New Construction/Popping Up – 14th Place, NE

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Dear PoPville,

Thought you might be interested in this house now being built on 14th PL NE near H street/Capitol Hill. Slightly different than your usual “Pop Up” posts. The original 2 story house on this plot burned over 30 years ago. For many years this was an empty plot of land that a few neighbors used as a community garden. Last year the city sold it to a developer who despite ANC opposition was able to get a permit to rebuild a house to include a cellar, 3 stories and a rooftop deck. The developer’s plan is to break it up into 2 units. The neighborhood opposition was around the height since all the other properties on this block are only 2 stories high.

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28 Comment

  • Woah. We contemplated putting an offer in on the house immediately next door when it was on the market ~1.5 years ago. One of the features we liked most was the community garden immediately next door. Thank god we didn’t end up buying it.

  • hard to tell from this picture, but it doesn’t seem absurd when compared to the red brick building across the alley.

    • I had the opposite reaction – to me, the angle on the pic showing the (two story) building across the alley masks how tall the new building is compared to everything else around it.

      I’m not complaining, but the new building IS very tall and skinny.

    • My apologies – I now understand what you meant. Let me re-phrase my response:

      The angle of the pic masks how tall the new building is. It’s three stories tall, unlike every other building on the block. This one really stands out due to both its height and width.

  • The “community garden” had trash bags all over it in the photo from Google streetviews…

    • Hate to feed trolls, but I assume you’re referring to this:

      If by “trash bags all over it” you meant “there were a couple bags full of cuttings at the front of the lot because it was garbage day,” then I agree with you.

      • Agreed. That’s obviously trash day. But is this really what passes for a “community garden” nowadays? I’m not knocking people making every inch look better (which I think they accomplished here), but “community garden” brings to mind vegetables or at least planter boxes, and this looks more like a good job of pruning some bushes.

        • I’m not a troll. You can actually see from the photo that the trash and recycling bins have already been emptied but these bags have been left behind. The broader point, that this does not exactly appear to be a major community treasure, also stands.

  • It doesn’t seem that bad at all, considering it’s only one additional floor and there’s a huge demand for housing in DC. Two units is reasonable and smart development.

    Hopefully the developer takes the time & money to blend it in with the rest of the row houses on the street (i.e. don’t wrap this thing in vinyl siding). I like all the windows on this place – the apartments will have lots of light and nice views.

  • Doesn’t look out of place to me at all. Glad there will be additional density and residents in our fair city.

    Maybe some of the other neighbors should increase their height…

  • It doesn’t look at bad as the eyesore 5 story pop-up you reported on last week: on V St. NW between 10th and 11th.

  • Looks great to me. Two more tax paying families will be living in the city, and riding the streetcar. Terrific.

  • The house itself looks all right so far. I just hope they don’t cover it in vinyl siding.

    It _is_ out of place on that block, though. Not as out of place as the V Street Pop-Up Monstrosity, but still. If I were a neighbor, I wouldn’t be happy about it either.

  • Emmaleigh504

    So far, it doesn’t look bad to me.

  • Is it just me or do the window placements look odd. Maybe they make sense from the inside layout?

  • Seriously though, the high price of each of these apartments will boost the values of all the adjacent single family townhouses. These will probably be new high comps for this block. The neighbors are going to benefit from this, if they decide to sell or refinance.

  • likes fine to me, and what a cute street!
    the width of these narrowest of rowhouses gets to me a bit, but many people don’t mind at all.
    it’s about 9′ wide, right?

  • How are they able to have side windows? Code dictates that windows must be 3ft from property line… or am I just missing something?

  • It won’t be vinyl. They were unloading the brick yesterday. The only thing I find interesting regarding the height is how easily peeps will be able to ‘peep’ in on the neighbors backyards in the alleyway behind the build. Since I’m one of those people…

    This is going to mesh just fine, other than being a tad higher than the rest of the block. A block which is one of the most beautiful in DC btw.

  • I think it’s great. There’s a similar fill in development happening in the 400 block of Hobart PL, NW. Three new three-story, two-unit rowhouses are going up at the end of the block. I was relieved to see that the developer used brick for the front. They are taller than the existing two story houses, but I think they look good.

  • i used to live on this block. i think one too-tall building will definitely take away from the block’s beauty.

  • Here we go again. This building is not “too tall”, is it simply “taller than” the existing buildings.

    I have two suggestions for everyone who is appalled by the height of the building or others like it:

    1. Learn about the zoning in your neighborhood (at the DC Office of Zoning) – your home, your neighbors, across the street, and the properties facing your back yard. Every zone includes defintions of what type of uses can be built on the property and some basic parameters on how big the construction can be; if a project conforms with these parameters, it is said to be ‘by right’ which means that the city or the neighbors have very little input on the project.

    One of these parameters is a height regulation – every building is alllowed to be up to a certain height; if the proposed bulding is within the height limit, you will not be able to prevent that building being built that high.
    I will bet that the allowable height is greater than you realize; do not assume that existing buildings reflect the height regulations – they may be much smaller than allowed. I will also bet that this building (and the one on V St) are within the height limit. (Heigth regs are typically found in local zoning across the country; the famous DC height restriction is a variation on this approach. It is unusual in that it severely restricts heights throughout the city while other cities tend to allow tall buildings in some zones.)

    2. If you object to the potential height allowed by the zoning regulations, you have to make an effort to have the zoning changed, before a project is proposed. This is not a simple matter but it is the only way to change what other properties owners are allowed to do with their properties by right (It can also affect what you can do with your own property.)

    And always remember: In most cases, the city does not review or approve or change the aesthetic appearance of a proposed building beyond what is defined in the zoning regulations – unless the property is in an historic district. So ‘pretty’ is irrelevant in these discussions.

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