HPA No. 1991-261 (In re. Luzon Apartment Building)
- HPA Number: 1991-261
- Case Name: In re 2501 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
- Location of Property: 2501 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Square 14 lots 800 & 812
- Date of Decision: May 11, 1992
- Type of Case/Type of Permit Sought: Subdivision
- Disposition: Granted
- Date of Case Summary: May 31, 2007
Summary of Decision:
Chatham Lake Associates (the "Applicant") filed a request for subdivision to combine Lots 800 and 812 into one single lot. Lot 800, site of the Luzon Apartment Building, is a historical landmark listed on the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites. The adjacent lot, Lot 812, was not a designated landmark, and was then improved with the remains of two demolished structures. The Mayor's Agent granted the subdivision application, concluding that combining the two lots would put the non-landmark lot under the purview of the historic preservation standards applicable to development at the landmark site, which would therefore protect the landmark from "uncontrolled" development around it. The Mayor's Agent further supported the subdivision because the Applicant agreed to make substantial repairs to the landmark once the lots were combined, including reconstructing a tower that would "enhance and strengthen the visual presence of the Luzon as it faces onto the corner," according to testimony of the D.C. Preservation League that was noted by the Mayor's Agent. Concluding that the arguments were not yet ripe for review, the Mayor's Agent postponed answering the opposition's arguments about the proposed development project, including whether the proposed plan of constructing a new, larger structure would subsume the landmark and be inconsistent with the purposes of the Act, reiterating that that the issue to be determined at this stage is merely one of subdivision to assemble the lots, not approval of a demolition or alteration permit concerning the overall project.
Mayor's Agent - Procedural:
- The Applicant carries the burden of proof "[i]n all contested cases under the Districts' [sic] Administrative Procedures Act..."
- During its deliberations, the Mayor's Agent is to give "great weight" to the concerns of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, who in this case opposed the subdivision. The Mayor's Agent stated that this standard means that their concerns should be discussed "with particularity" in the written opinion.
- An opponent to the application for subdivision argued that the notice of hearing was defective because the notice was dated before the Historic Preservation Review Board (the "HPRB") made its recommendation to the Mayor's Agent, in violation of 10 DCMR 2509.7. However, "the Mayor may for good cause waive any of the provisions of these rules, if not otherwise prohibited by law." Since no harm was shown as a result of this early notice, and the Mayor's Agent would need to review the application no matter how the HPRB decided, so the Mayor's Agent determined that the early notice was not defective.
Consistent with the Purposes of the Act:
Because the Luzon Apartment Building was then in use, the Applicants did not argue that their proposal was consistent with the purposes of the Act through encouraging the landmark's adaptation for current use; rather, they argued that the subdivision was consistent with the purposes of the Act because their project would retain, enhance, and restore the landmark. The Mayor's Agent agreed, noting that the concern at issue was "what will happen to the landmark if it is not assembled with the non-landmark lot." Because the developers stated that they will restore the Luzon's towers and make other restorations if the lots are combined, the Mayor's Agent determined that the assembly of lots would thus retain, enhance, and restore the landmark (thus meeting the statutory standard for the purposes of the Act for historic landmarks under D.C. Code § 5-1001(b)(2)).
See HPA No. 1999-405, orders of September 1, 1999 and April 29, 2005 for related history concerning this property.
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United States Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit (1999-12-17)
District of Columbia. Court of Appeals (1995-11-17)
United States District Court for the District of Columbia (1998-09-25)