“Development is becoming a suburban eyesore in historic Blagden Alley!”


“Dear PoPville,

My partner and I have been watching the developments pop up in our neighborhood. It has been great! Although, the development being built at 1250 9th Street NW is becoming a suburban eyesore in historic Blagden Alley! We’ve been watching as they began slapping on siding. Much to our horror they now have three different colored sidings on the building. I’ve seen that the original plans submitted to the city called for a stucco exterior on these sections. Do you know if this modification to their original plans was ever approved? They are really ruining the aesthetics of an otherwise charming little area. I really hope the city steps in an puts a stop to this.”

Ed. Note: You can see renderings from the developer here.


38 Comment

  • 1. I dont see it. 2. Maybe it’s not done? 3. I guarantee a reasonable and respectful debate below…..cough

  • pablo .raw

    You can check the status of the project (permit wise) here http://pivs.dcra.dc.gov/OBPAT/Default.aspx


  • If this area is part of a historic district, and if the Historic Preservation Review Board approved one set of plans but the developer did something else instead, the OP might do well to complain to the HPRB.

  • Excuse me, but when it comes to new construction plenty of DC suburbs have way better looking builds/higher architectural standards than the glass boxes and generic facades seen in DC-proper. Trying to drag the word “suburban” through the mud is not accurate in this situation. DC-proper new construction architecture is the pits, even and especially compared to its suburbs.

    • I call bullshit on this. Show some examples outside of well-moneyed Clarendon/Bethesda.

    • In this context “suburban” is short-hand for ugly and new-looking (not of the period in which the building was built). We all know what the OP means.

      Don’t get your panties in a knot defending the poor, offended suburbanites (all 3 of them who follow this blog).

    • Wow, funny comment. New builds in DC aren’t winning any architectural awards, but the architecture in the burbs around here is downright depressing. Bethesda is the best I can think of, which is sad.

  • The idea that all buildings in a neighborhood should look similar is itself suburban. No one ever criticized a city building for looking different from its neighbors, until the suburbs redefined what a neighborhood “ought” to look like. Criticize a building for being ugly all you want, but the idea that this is suburban is completely false.

  • they failed to elicit my sympathy.

  • Maybe they should just cover the outside with crumbling brick like a majority of the surrounding blocks?

  • Okay I see what you see from the roof but what about from the alley?

  • Pretty sure that’s just the layer they add before masons come lay the stones and bricks.

  • justinbc

    Does anyone in this city ever wait til a project is done before getting pissed off about it?

    • No, because then it’s too late to fool yourself into thinking that you can persuade the city to do something about it.

    • tonyr

      This is nothing compared to the frenzy on the local listserv regarding the micro-units that they’re planning to build on the same block/alley. The HPRB folk should be looking our for torches and pitchforks.

      • What listserve are you following? I haven’t seen the “frenzy”. Live in the hood and I haven’t heard anything

  • OK, is it just me or does it occur to anyone else that what you’re seeing in the OP’s photo might be the back side of the building, and what you see in the developer’s rendering might be on the other side of the building from what you can see from the OP’s vantage point? That building looks awful flat in the photos (i.e. far fewer corners, no apparent bays), which is what I would expect to see on the alley-side of a development. I could be wrong, that’s for sure. Been wrong lots of times before.

  • This issue has been discussed at the local ANC and they supposedly submitted a note to HPO.

  • So… You are complaining about the HardieBoard siding on the non-frontage side of the building? What about all the brick, cut stone, and metal work on the 9th and N Street sides?

  • Looking at your picture I see only a single building, the church, that is remotely attractive and even that is nothing special. Seems like a historically ugly area is getting a modern ugly building.

  • Rich people problems. Seriously. More important things in the world than you disapproving of the siding on a building.

  • Dismissing people’s observations and concerns – calling them “rich peoples problems,” deriding their use of the word “suburban,” all so you can score a snark award isn’t helpful. Come on – there is a basic question here – did an approved design get altered without anyone’s knowledge? If so, is there anything anyone can do about it? Can’t we discuss in a more neighborly way – without being a-holes?

    • Like the OP is exactly being “neighborly” and respectful about this issue themselves?

    • I get your point – two wrong’s don’t make a right – but in this as with most issues of aesthetic taste, there seems to be a disproportionate level of OP freakout to what is perhaps not beautiful, but is certainly no worse that most of the surrounding construction. As others have also noted, it may be the project is only half done. In that case the OP should try being more “neighborly” and inquire of the project foreman what kind of final look the building will have….instead of jumping on-line and creating a big stir where possibly none exists.

  • Look at the window frames covered by brick in the forefront. Now look at the windows in the subject building. Pretty sure those window frames will get the same brick treatment over the next couple months. It doesn’t look like siding, it looks like a wrap.

  • Look at the window frames covered by brick in the forefront. Now look at the windows in the subject building. Pretty sure those window frames will get the same brick treatment over the next couple months. It doesn’t look like siding, it looks like a wrap.

  • What is it about our DC politicians and regulations that is preventing reputable architects, with a creative sense of urban design from submitting/winning projects? All of this new construction looks EXACTLY the same! It doesn’t look and feel urban, there’s no creativity… Everything is just a boring box… Thank god I live in bloomingdale and there’s no more space for this, save for McMillan, which is concentrated on top of a hill, and isolated enough that I’ll never have to interact with it…

  • I’m the ANC Commissioner (SMD 2F06). The backside of this building was supposed to be stucco per approved plans. The historic preservation office (HPO) has been alerted to the violation (the artificial horizontal plank siding visible in the picture) and the neighborhood met with the developer on options for correction (they did violate their building permit by installing this siding). HPO is currently working with the developer on the correction plan and will direct the developer in the near future. It will be posted on the blog when we know what it is. This siding will remain, painted a dark color on the interior courtyard but I would expect significant changes including possibly removing the siding for those parts that are visible from the alley or street.

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