Judging Renderings – 1442 Penn Ave SE

“Dear PoP,

I’ve just come from a neighborhood meeting at Wisdom about a new development to replace the old/abandoned KFC @ 1442 Pennsylvania Ave SE, [next to Wisdom,] being designed by R2L:Architects. They intend to have retail space on the ground floor fronting Pennsylvania with the aim of courting a cafe, [though the current plans do not show a kitchen area in this space as the tenant is not yet assigned,] and the rest of the building is to consist of 21 apartments with an extensive [un-inhabitable] green roof. Though there was only a small group of us who showed up to the meeting, there were a variety of interests expressed, from the liquor store owner across the street to neighbors on all sides.

Our biggest concerns were that while there will be 21 units only 7 parking spaces will be provided, and the height of the building – while within zoning code allowance – is more than twice the height of its neighbors. The architects [+ perhaps a member of the ANC who was present? I missed his name] expressed that they will be looking into not allowing residents to gain street parking permits. With the site being at such a proximity to the Potomac Ave metro, + with many designated bike parking spaces, + perhaps some sort of shared/zip-car parking, this seems like it may be feasible. The height is something that does not bother me, as approaching it from eye level it will not appear so massive due to the varied nature of the facades, [though I can see it perhaps being a bone of contention for some in the neighborhood,] + I will not be offended by the bit of the building I will be able to see from my back yard, as they have backed the upper floors away from the alley.

One other point discussed at length is the bus stop on the corner of 15th & Penn, which may detract from the desirability of outdoor seating for the retail on the ground floor. There were various ideas thrown out about the possibility of relocating the stop a block up or down Pennsylvania, though obviously this may be a difficult feat to accomplish.

Personally, I think the design shows promise, + is certainly more desirable than the abandoned KFC. As a neighbor, I am for the concept as it stands now – I think it an interesting design, + while not in the same style of the neighborhood, it seems to respect its surroundings. The architects expressed their desire to get these designs out to the neighborhood as soon as possible in order to get feedback from the community, so I thought I’d pass it on to you in case you’d be interested in posting it.”

The plans are for 21 apartments and about 3000 SF of retail area. The 4th floor apartments that face Penn Ave have access to private roof terraces. The target for the start of construction is April 2012.

33 Comment

  • Oooh, could we do this with the Stanton-Eastbanc (Hine School) development at 7/8th and Penn Ave SE? It would be interesting to see what the opinions are outside of the neighborhood.

  • If you have the parking permit system anyone who lives in that zone should be able to get them through the same process as everyone else. If the problem is you have too many people with permits for a particular zone, then increase the price to get one or institute a lottery. Yes they are proposing a new building with relatively little parking (though I assume the number of spaces is permitted under DC law) but why in 10 years should someone who lives there have less access to a parking permit then someone who moved into the condo’s above Harris Teeter?

    • +1. That’s a stupid idea. No one is entitled to parking. As the OP him/herself stated, there are plenty of public transportation options nearby…everyone, new and old alike, can utilize it.

      • What? Just because public transit is nearby doesn’t mean everyone must use it or else.

        • Nope, but the availability of more efficient modes of transportation renders the “everyone deserves a parking spot” mentality obsolete. If you want to have a car in a popular residential area, there are certain costs that come with it…one of which might be walking a few extra blocks to park it.

          • What more efficient modes of transportation exist here? I work in this area and driving is definitely faster than anything else.

    • Doesn’t seem fair to prohibit new residents from getting street parking permits, and (as far as I know) isn’t possible anyway.

      • It’s actually pretty common. A lot of the residents of the high rises around the ballpark, as well as some smaller multi unit developments that have their own parking, are prohibited from having city parking stickers. It’s often part of the deal that developers make with the city to ensure that you don’t suddenly have 200 people parking on the street near a new building.

        • Interesting; thanks. I didn’t know this!

        • The residents of the new buildings near Nats park do not have access to RPP because the streets in area are not zoned for RPP, similar to chinatown/downtown apartment buildings. This area has RPP.

          • Not true. They’re zone 6. (except for the ones that are strictly metered) This was one of the big things that Hill East residents said was why they didn’t want to be in W7 – so that they could park near the ballpark. It’s a nice little perk of living in W6, that you can park in the non metered spots down there.

            The condos/townhouses at Bryan Square on 12th and Independence have the same rule about not being able to get RPPs.

      • Do you really think all residents in a big city should be entitled to street parking? I agree with Eli — there are way too many cars on the road (hence the amount of congestion). The more housing units that have limited number of reserved parking passes, the better. Makes people take more “efficient” means of transportation such as walking or biking. If you don’t work within a reasonable distance of these options, don’t live there.

        • I think people are just saying the the same rules should apply to everyone (within the Ward). As opposed to, “if you live in THIS building you get a parking permit, but you can’t get one if you live in THIS building” nonsense. Let the market sort itself out. Price parking according to supply/demand, and those who need/can pay for it the most will use it.

    • Never heard of the DMV either increasing the price of residential parking permits in response to a shortage, or of their starting a lottery.

      Parking zones occupy pretty wide expanses; I believe they correlate with the ward boundaries. In my experience in a different Ward (Ward 1), some parts of the ward have higher demand for street parking than others.

  • Were the brackets from the original writer?

    At the beginning, I though that the bracketed content was PoP’s editorial addition… but partway through I started wondering if maybe the original writer was just using brackets instead of parentheses.

  • I agree! A developer wants to build a (relatively) attractive mixed-use structure on a lot that is currently urban blight. Why would we want to impede that progress? It’s not like they’re asking to build a an enormous condo building in the middle of single-family houses.

    Check out this article:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/03/how-skyscrapers-can-save-the-city/8387/

  • Why only four stories? Seems low for something near metro and tons of bus lines. Build higher!

  • “The architects [+ perhaps a member of the ANC who was present? I missed his name] expressed that they will be looking into not allowing residents to gain street parking permits.”

    What? How would that benefit the developers trying to sell the condos? “Sorry… if you have a car, you won’t be able to park it in your neighborhood…”

    “One other point discussed at length is the bus stop on the corner of 15th & Penn, which may detract from the desirability of outdoor seating for the retail on the ground floor.”

    Can you expound on this? It seems to me that bus stops and outdoor seating co-exist pretty well all across the city. What are the particular issues here?

    • OP here! Let me first say that I missed the first bit of the meeting, so may not have all the info. The conversation about parking permits came up obviously because the building is designed without parking for all residents, + we neighbors wanted to check into the possibility of not adding so many extra cars into our already overly-strained neighborhood. We aren’t as concerned as the developer about trying to sell/rent the spaces.
      The exchange about the bus stop sprung as it is not the most pleasant in the city, + its position seems to interfere with the more desirable location for outdoor seating. I believe there were several people there [including the owner of the liquor store across the street,] who have had problems with people at that particular stop in the past. As I said, there are many stops within a couple of blocks of that location, + the idea was thrown out as to the possibility of having this one moved or combined with another.
      Obviously these were all just ideas thrown out by neighbors of the property – who knows how much we can or will affect what happens!

      • Without parking permits I’m sure the new residents would rather keep the bus stop right in front of the building than have to walk a few blocks in “not the most pleasant” area of the city.

        The Allegro in Colubmia Heights has a bus stop right in front of the outdoor seating area for Thaitanic and it’s fine.

        • Im sorry I was not clear – the next bus stops are not a few blocks away, they are on the same block or across the street. I was not referring to this area as not the most pleasant part of the city, but this particular bus stop as not the most pleasant. As to bus stop/café seating combination, obviously it works in many other locations/situations across the city quite well. The question was if it will work here, + the opinion of many at the meeting was it would be more desirable if this particular stop were moved.

  • I’m sure it’s an improvement on what’s there now, but I can’t stand the desing. It’s one I think will be out of date in about 10 years. It looks like additions were made to “update” a plain brown facade built 60 years ago–yet it’s a new building. There are so many of these unimaginative designs all over the city

  • Wish it was a more “historical” looking design. The notion that new residents in that building can or should have their access to zone stickers restricted is flat out stoopid. It’s better than what is there and may jump start that end of Penn Ave SE. Anyone opposed, please get out of the way of progress for crissake!

  • Doesn’t look too bad.
    If it’s not going to look historic (colonial/georgian/beau arts/art deco) then can it at least be high quality contemporary? This looks like alot of contemporary buildings being dropped across the contry.

    Either blend in or stand out with some great urban design (see the Fred and Ginger building in Prague).

  • You know the architect is concerned about the height of the building when they place a +50 foot tall street tree on the rendering.

  • I live in the neighborhood and definitely like this plan. Replacing blight with 21 new units in a very transit rich area should help this end of Pennsylvania Ave. Now if we can just get rid of the used car lot a block further East…

  • Considering the situation most things would be better.

    Saying that, the Iridium down the the street has first floor retail and but except for a few months of the Cricket store and something that may be there now, it has been empty. Then there is the old place at Potomac Metro that was supposed to be a fancy sandwich shop but has otherwise sat empty. I would love more retail/food down that way but with it being so close the bridge that neighborhood doesn’t seem to be as amenable.

  • Build it!

  • Restricting these residents from street parking isn’t fair. It’s not a “right,” but that doesn’t mean you should be able to restrict them over anyone else. My neighbor has 5 cars and a boat legally registered and parked on the street plus 2 cars in his backyard. That’s 7 vehicles and a boat! … and I live 2 blocks from here. I’m not making this up. How’s that okay, but someone in this condo can’t get a zone 6 sticker for a car? Also, enforce the people from MD who drive in and park on our streets to ride the metro … I see that all the time.

    The KFC has been abandoned for a decade with a horrible looking chain link fence around it. Crime is an issue on this street corner, just ask the owner of Wisdom. Adding a nice building with (who I would presume would be) law abiding citizens and it can only help the crime.

    Plus I’m sure Trusty’s and Wisdom wouldn’t mind the extra business. Perhaps removing the eyesore that’s there now would make people feel more comfortable walking down that street to frequent businesses close to the bridge.

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