HPA No. 1995-078 (In re. The Louise)
- HPA Number: 1995-078
- Building Name: The Louise
- Address: 214 7th St. NE
- Date of Order: 06-Oct-95
Capitol Hill Group ("Applicant") sought approval of an application to demolish the Louise, a three-story brick apartment building located in the Capitol Hill Historic District. The Applicant wanted to demolish the building in order to create an eight- to nine-space parking lot. On January 26, 1995, the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board ("HPRB") denied the application, holding that demolition of the building would be inconsistent with the purposes of D.C. Law 2-144. The Applicant subsequently appealed the decision to the Mayor's Agent, arguing that failure to issue the demolition permit would result in unreasonable economic hardship to the owner. The Applicant stated that renovation of the building would cost as much as $80 per square foot. The Mayor's Agent denied the permit, holding that the demolition of a contributing building within an historic district is inconsistent with the purposes of the Act. The Mayor's Agent also determined that the Applicant had failed to demonstrate unreasonable economic hardship or that issuance of the permit was necessary for the construction of a project of special merit.
Consistent with Purposes of the Act:
The Mayor's Agent held that the demolition of a contributing building within an historic district and its replacement with a parking lot would be inconsistent with the purposes of the Act.
Economic Hardship - General:
The Mayor's Agent held that "the mere fact that it would cost the Applicant more to renovate The Louise than to erect a new edifice is not, in and of itself, proof of unreasonable economic hardship." Any applicant claiming unreasonable economic hardship is required, pursuant to 10 DCMR §2516.4, to file an affidavit disclosing specified financial information for the affected property. The Mayor's Agent held that the Applicant's failure to file such an affidavit precluded its claim of economic hardship. The Applicant "bears the burden of proving that no other reasonable economic use for The Louise exists." See MB Assocs. v. D.C. Dep't of Licenses, Investigations & Inspection , 456 A.2d 344 (D.C. 1982); 900 G Street Assocs. v. Dep't of Housing & Community Dev. , 430 A.2d 1387 (D.C. 1981). The Mayor's Agent held that the Applicant "has failed to meet its burden of proving that no other reasonable economic uses for The Louise exists in that the Applicant has failed to introduce any evidence that it has seriously attempted to explore other economic uses for the subject property."
Special Merit - General:
Although the Applicant did not appeal the HPRB's decision on special merit grounds, the Mayor's Agent held that "a parking lot in no way is a project of special merit, in that it does not have significant benefits to the District or the community because of any exemplary architecture, features of land planning or the bestowing of benefits to the community."
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