*HPA Number: 2001-208 and 2001-209, and 2001-219 through 2000-224
*Building Name: St. Patrick's Church
*Address(es): 921-927 F St. NW, 931-935 F St. NW
*Date of Order: 01-Aug-01
Applicants sought permits for demolition, partial demolition, subdivision, and new construction to consolidate lots and build a mixed-use commercial building along F Street in the Downtown Historic District. The Mayor's Agent ordered the issuance of all necessary permits finding the project to be one of special merit for several factors, including retention of historic facades and respect for existing landmarks, adaptation of historic buildings for modern retail use, and accommodation of art-related space. The parties in opposition to the project lent their support after working out a "Memorandum of Agreement" with the Applicants, in which a covenant was drafted to ensure the continuation of the attributes of the site on which special merit was based.
The Mayor's Agent found that the total demolition of 935 F Street, a contributing building in the Downtown Historic District, was necessary to obtain the maximum amount of historic fabric from the other buildings on the site of the Applicant's proposed mixed-used commercial project. Because he also concluded the project was one of special merit, the Mayor's Agent ordered the issuance of the demolition permits.
Retention of the first 50 feet of 921-927 F Street and the facades of 931-933 F Street was a large factor in the buildings' rehabilitation and their designation as contributing. The Mayor's Agent cited the retention of these elements as specific features of land planning in his conclusion that the proposed project (a mixed-use commercial development built on several sites in the Downtown Historic District) was one of special merit.
The design of Applicants' project was found to respect the aesthetics of both the historic district and St. Patrick's Church, the only individual historic landmark in the site, by massing new construction and alteration of abutting buildings away from the church.
*Mayor's Agent - Procedure:*
The Mayor's Agent had denied the Applicants' demolition and subdivision applications in an earlier proposal ( _See HPA 99-219, et seq._ ), but because the order was not issued within the statutorily required 60 days after closing of the record, the project was "approved," and several parties in opposition had filed suit to enjoin.
*Special Merit - Community Services Having a High Priority:*
The Mayor's Agent concluded that the Applicant's proposed mixed-use commercial development in the Downtown Historic District was a project of special merit by virtue of community services having a high priority. Among the factors in this determination were the Applicant's inclusion of 82% more space for arts-related uses than was required by zoning: "a significant benefit to the community and the city as a whole."
*Special Merit - Land Planning, Specific Features of:*
The Mayor's Agent concluded that the Applicant's proposed mixed-use commercial development in the Downtown Historic District was a project of special merit by virtue of specific features of land planning: the conceptual designs respected the character and setting of the historic district, by massing the bulk of the project away from the landmark St. Patrick's Cathedral, and by scaling the project back to reduce the overall appearance in deference to the district's low-scale setting. The project was also found to meet key components of the Comprehensive Plan for downtown including the continuing development of the retail core on F Street; inclusion of arts and entertainment facilities in a downtown land-mix; and development of new office space to increase daytime activity, retail use, and employment near the Metro.
The Mayor's Agent concluded that issuing a permit for subdivision of Applicants several lots into a single lot of record was necessary to construct the proposed mixed-use commercial project: a project the Mayor's Agent concluded was one of special merit by virtue of land planning and social or other benefits having a high priority for community services.
*Prior History:* See HPA No. 99-219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 225 226, and 285, orders of May 24, 1999 and November 9, 1999 for prior history.