HPA No. 99-401, 99-402, 99-404 (In re. Syphax School)

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HPA No. 99-401, 99-402, 99-404 (In re. Syphax School)

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  • HPA Number: 99-401, 99-402, 99-404
  • Building Name: Syphax School
  • Address(es): 1360 Half St. NW
  • Date of Order: 13-Dec-99

Summary:

Applicant, owner of the property including the Syphax School, a historic landmark, sought permits for partial demolition, alteration, and subdivision to develop an affordable housing project that included both the Syphax School building and new construction on adjacent property. The Mayor's Agent granted the multi-part application, concluding that the project was necessary in the public interest as a project of special merit, finding "substantial evidence in the record that the project [would] generate unique and extensive social and other benefits that have a high priority for community services" that outweighed the historical value of the school. The Mayor's Agent recommended that the Applicant further consider options for preserving a greater portion of the 1941 addition to the school.

Adaptation for Use:

The Mayor's Agent concluded that the Applicant's proposed development of an affordable housing development in and around the historic Syphax School was "an appropriate adaptive reuse of the property... both for the purpose of preserving a landmark school building and as an opportunity to strengthen the residential community."

Alteration:

The Mayor's Agent found that alteration of the landmark Syphax School to allow for the maximization of residential unit development while preserving and restoring many of the school's historic elements was necessary to allow for the creation of an affordable housing development, since the project was one of special merit. Adopting a portion of the Historic Preservation Review Board's action, the Mayor's Agent recommended that the Applicant consider further options to preserve more of the school's 1941 addition.

Demolition:

The Mayor's Agent found that partial demolition of the landmark Syphax School to allow for the maximization of residential unit development while preserving and restoring many of the school's historic elements was necessary for the creation of Applicant's proposed affordable housing development. Adopting a portion of the Historic Preservation Review Board's action, the Mayor's Agent recommended that the Applicant consider further options to preserve more of the school's 1941 addition.

Economic Feasibility:

Based on Applicant's testimony, the Mayor's Agent found that the project, an affordable housing development in and around the landmark Syphax School, would not be economically feasible without his granting the applications for partial demolition, alteration, and subdivision due to the prohibitive costs of construction and rehabilitation of the existing Syphax School for other types of residential regimes, loss of projected income from the Applicant's inability to build a sufficient number of units, and the unit affordability limits required under public grant agreements for low and middle-income housing development the Applicant had secured for the project.

Mayor's Agent - Procedural

Pursuant to D.C. Code § 1-309.10(d)(3)(A), "the affirmative approval vote of a majority of the members of [the Advisory Neighborhood Council] is entitled to "great weight" by the Mayor or his or her agent."

Special Merit - Balancing Test:

"In any special merit proceeding, the Mayor's Agent must balance the historical value of the particular landmark against the special merit of the proposed project." See Committee of 100 on the Federal City v. District of Columbia Department of Consumer & Regulatory Services , 571 A.2d 195 (D.C. 1990).

The Mayor's Agent concluded that the social and community benefits of the Applicant's proposed affordable homeownership housing project in a vacant and blighted historic schoolhouse, including adaptive reuse of the school building, an increase in local low and moderate-income homeownership, and a projected decrease in neighborhood crime as the blighted property was redeveloped, outweighed the historic value of the school in its unused condition.

Special Merit - Community Services Having a High Priority:

The Mayor's Agent concluded that there was substantial evidence in the record that the Applicant's proposed affordable housing development in and around the historic Syphax School building would "generate unique and extensive social and other benefits having a high priority for community services, with very positive impacts on the Syphax School property, the neighborhood and larger community." These benefits included the adaptive reuse of a historic landmark school building, an increase in local low and moderate-income homeownership, and the projected decrease in neighborhood crime rates resulting from the redevelopment of vacant blighted property.

Special Merit - Specific Features of Land Planning:

The Mayor's Agent found that the Applicant's proposed development of an affordable housing development, which included re-use of the historic Syphax School and new construction on adjacent property, was consistent with the District's Comprehensive Plan, specifically policies recited in the Plan's "Housing, Land Use, and Preservation and Historic Features Elements." The Mayor's Agent specifically noted the policies of increasing homeownership among low to moderate-income households, using publicly owned vacant properties (including surplus schools) for housing, and preserving buildings' important historic features while permitting new development consistent with those features.

Subdivision:

The Mayor's Agent found that subdivision of the Applicant's lots into a single lot of record was necessary to allow for the creation of the Applicant's proposed affordable housing development, since the Mayor's Agent determined the project to be one of special merit.

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Title: HPA No. 99-401, 99-402, 99-404 (In re. Syphax School)
Author: Government of the District of Columbia. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Office of Adjudication
Abstract: Decision and order concerning an application for partial demolition, alteration and subdivision at 1360 Half Street S.W.
Permanent Link: http://hdl.handle.net/10822/761262
Date Created: 1999
Subject: Demolition; Alteration (Including Addition); Subdivision; Adaptation for Use; Economic Feasibility; Mayor's Agent: D.C. Administrative Procedure Act; Special Merit - Balancing Test; Special Merit - Community Services


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