140-unit condo building proposed at Meridian International Center

Rendering for 16th St NW & Crescent Pl NW please see full proposal below

“Dear PoPville,

I was hoping you could help get out the word that the Meridian International Center is proposing to add a 140-unit, 9-story condo building. They had proposed something similar last year, then told the ANC that they were tabling it. Well, it’s back before the ANC zoning committee (meeting this Wednesday 2/18 at Mary’s Center at 7:00), and then it will go before the Historic Preservation Review Board on March 26th.

I am really concerned about how this will impact a DC historic site, especially as it will eliminate the connection between the historic mansion and the park. I’m also terrified of what this is going to mean for neighbors of the site (myself included). Turning onto Belmont from 16th St. is the only way by car to access Beekman Place, Belmont, Crescent Place, and the 2300 block of 17th St., including the parking garage for a large condo building on 17th & Kalorama. It is is one-way and one-lane everywhere except for the first 200 feet or so. Now they want to add 90 cars going in and out of that building from Belmont. I also don’t know if the residents without parking spaces will get residential parking permits. The demand for parking spaces in the neighborhood already far exceeds supply. The addition of massive construction trucks and equipment for a year or more certainly isn’t going to help.

Considering all the new condos and apartments in the area (above Harris Teeter, Dorechester West, more coming on 2400 block of 17th, new ones at 17th & Euclid, the Ontario, plus the ones going in at the former Planet Pet/parking garage just southwest of us), I’m just not sure why we need another 140 units on a historic site.

Meridian proposal (PDF)

30 Comment

  • It’s 2015, who cares about parking

  • Everything is about parking all the time. It’s kinda embarrassing that some view easily housing their cars in the *public* right of way as sacrosanct and will fight housing for more and new neighbors to help keep that entitlement.

  • It is always about parking. I love how the post arbitrarily cites a bunch of other development projects as if somehow the existence of those means we should not building housing in this particular location. In case you haven’t looked at housing prices lately, there is clearly a shortage in housing supply in this city. Denying more housing to protect your heavily subsidized below-market rate parking and car ownership would be terrible policy.

  • “I was hoping you could get the word out, because I don’t really like this, and I don’t think there should be development in urban areas, and I like parking everywhere, and I want to make sure everyone else takes my side.”

    Maybe when something like this gets asked to be posted, it’s posted without bias?

    I for one think it’s great.

  • That’s a monstrosity of a building. I’m not against new development, but that’s not aesthetically pleasing – and doesn’t fit into the neighborhood.

    • This can’t be serious. It’s about the same height as it’s neighbor to the north. It steps down to about the same height as the old building. It’s surrounded by buildings the same height within a couple of blocks. It’s not a monstrosity.

      Aesthetics, fine, but it’s a perfectly sized building for that block

  • What a thinly veiled attempt to use historic preservation as a reason to slow development that might be slightly inconvenient to some.

    No one cares about an old parking lot. It’s not “historic.” Get over it.

  • This is… astounding. All of the development cited is still a small drop in the bucket compared to the growing housing demand in the area.

  • Why do people in a city think they have the right to be free from traffic? Why do people who concede there’s an affordability problem in DC continually oppose construction projects near them that will add density? Most of us are yearning for retail and more density and are thrilled that condos are being built in places where they’ll fit fine. This idea that there ought to be a link between the historic mansion and the park is completely bogus. The author doesn’t want more people around and uses this fake link as an excuse and it’s gross. I hope 1C approves this unanimously. But note to the 1C commissioners: even if you don’t the Zoning Board will. Great Weight ain’t so great when the ANC yields to NIMBYs.

  • I’m the original OP, and I might not have expressed my concerns very well. For those familiar with this area, the turn onto Belmont from 16th is a bit of a mess, but it’s many people’s only option to access their home via car — whether that is their own car or an uber or a cab or a moving truck. It’s supposed to be a one-way street, but they let the folks coming out of Beekman Place go out to 16th St., thus making it two-way for a couple hundred feet, despite the fact that it is really a one way street — we regularly have near misses with the Beekman traffic. There is no light at the intersection, you have lots of pedestrians in the cross walk, and lots of people making hasty left turns onto the street whenever they see a small opening in southern traffic. So street parking aside, you are going to have an additional 90 cars (or more) adding two-way traffic in that already not-super-safe area. That, I think, is going to be a mess. I have not seen any part of the proposal that addresses these concerns.

    Also, when we only have one lane and no alternative routes, the construction is going to frequently block all traffic (we already see this when Meridian has events and their party trucks block everyone).

    • The horror! The situation you describe is clearly unfixable, so we must stop all construction.

    • I lived on that section of 17th street for a year (ending in 2014) and agree that navigating that street and finding parking is an issue, but… this is a city. Density is to be expected and welcomed – in fact it’s why the vast majority of us live here. The sooner you come to terms with that, the happier you will be 🙂

    • Sounds like you have issues with DDOT and DPW, not an issue with the zoning or building size for the new building (noting that DDOT is a fantastic mix of incompetency and laziness while DPW/MPD does a terrible job at parking enforcement in neighborhoods on weekends)

  • “90 cars going in and out of that building”. I doubt 90 cars will be going all at once or all day long non-stop.

  • Thank you for posting this. I am a neighbor too and was unaware of the development proposal.

  • I’m a neighbor and I welcome the new addition. I just wished that the retail space on the ground floor was more ambitious. This block is very scary to walk at night and getting rid of the wall and putting anything there would add greatly to safety. For that matter, the entire area around Harris Teeter needs more development. The area is completely desolate, dark, and void of any traffic at night.

    As far as parking. Well I paid dearly for my spot, don’t own a car, and welcome additional cars b/c they would only increase what I can potentially charge for renting my spot.

    I think traffic patterns, however, are a killer. I can’t imagine the horror that this would cause to 16th street if an additional stop light is added or the city is bold enough to reconsider traffic patterns. /sarcasm.

  • Thanks for bringing this to my attention. What can I do to support the development and help make sure our city which desperately needs more housing gets this project completed?

  • Ok, lets get right to it. Your concern isn’t about a “historic site”. Its about keeping your neighborhood as it is so lets not try to cloud your argument with non-existant “concern”.

    Secondly, why does a highly sought after, transit multi-modal location that is currently low density and vastly underutilized according to zoning and location “need” more condos? Because DC is a growing place and this is the center of town. DC has added ~90,000 new residents in the past 10 years (or 16% pop growth). Where should the live? They want to live in the same nice neighborhoods you do, have access to all the same amenities that you do, and this neighborhood is one of those places.

    Why parking? Because despite the “eye rolling” about parking, the funny thing is that the data shows us people who are shelling out 800K to 1 million bucks for 2 bedroom condos in this neighborhood and others in DC, also have cars…usually expensive ones they want (and are willing) to pay for offstreet parking for. Fact of life. If they are willing to pay for offstreet parking, then great. It is better than folks like Douglas Jemal conning the city into letting him out of building parking for his new condos (and pocketing millions in savings that he certainly isn’t passing on to his buyers), promising he will “police” his buyers for years after they buy (unhuh…sure) to ensure they don’t get RPP stickers to park in their neighborhoods. The result, the condo buyers bring their cars (shocker) and then have to park on the already crowded streets.

    I am sorry construction is going to disturb your bucolic life for a whole year. I mean, gee…who thought one would have to deal with the occasional disruption of construction by living in a city? Between the city replacing all the utilities in the streets around my neighborhood, and almost every house on my block being bought and renovated, my entire neighborhood has been a construction zone for about 6 years. Its the trade off of being able to live where you do.

    Lastly, you answered your own question “Considering all the new condos and apartments in the area…I am not sure why we need 140 more”. Well…the answer is simply because all those other condos were bought in record time, indicating a high demand for more.

    The architect “starchitect” in this situation has his name on some of the best, most acclaimed designs in the city that folks rave about. Considering how much mental energy folks expend ridiculing and waxing non-poetic about the crappy designs and poor build quality of the condo conversions happening in DC, you would think folks would be raving that this developer is doing it right.

  • To get back to the OP’s question/final statement “I’m just not sure why we need another 140 units on a historic site.” *We* don’t need them, Meridian International Center does so that they can continue funding their programs and furthering their mission. As someone who has benefited from their programs, I am all for this. So unless you have an alternative funding solution, I say we let them proceed.

  • I couldn’t care less about someone’s personal parking problems. DC is a rapidly growing city, we need less cars and more places for people to call home.

  • Always amazed at the self-righteous attitudes of some commenters here. So now we can’t acknowledge the fact that, in the area, parking is already a nightmare and would likely get worse *AND* that some people don’t have a choice in having a car (work hours after/before the metro opens or in a non-metro/bus accessible place). How many of you actually live in the neighborhood?

    I live next door to where this would be, and while I’m not necessarily against it, it’s important to realize that people in the neighborhood have real and valid concerns, and that a significant change to Belmont/Crescent Places would be needed to accommodate a much larger in/out volume of cars.

    • Amazed, what is self righteous about a position that the RPP system is broken, and restricting density wont fix it? I do live here. just around the corner to be exact. I’m not really impressed with any of my neighbors advocating for the status quo, in which they got theirs and screw everyone else.

      Here’s a thought – Let’s price street parking competitively. The residents of this neighborhood can afford it, and the revenue will be useful, and the program would provide a dis-incentive for car ownership, while having little to no impact (and possibly a positive impact) on the desirability of the neighborhood.

    • +1
      The anti-car/anti-parking lobby has completed its troll of this thread.
      This condos = more density & affordability whining is getting old. Affordability in a 500 sq ft $500,000 condo + HOA fees? And no parking?

      This isn’t Manhattan as much as many would like to turn it into that. Nobody’s saying you can’t move there.

  • I was anti-car until I had a child. Just curious to see how attitudes may change when you’re hauling around a baby while waiting for public transportation.

    • We’ve been able to live in DC without a car and two kids, with the oldest now 6. Public transportation is accessible and the journey itself is always a good time with the kids. When we have to get somewhere fast there are taxis, Car2Go, and the occasional rental on holidays.

  • Arrgggh, so frustrating to read these comments. First, this *isn’t* about parking. The original poster probably was just including *all* the reasons supporting his/her and other people’s concerns about this development. Second, the existing buildings (the ones that will be directly across from the new condo) on Belmont St are LOW-rise (4-level, but more like 3-level because one level is partially below ground) brick townhouses. Because of that fact, the new glass/steel building is comparatively HUGE and an aesthetic eyesore, and probably will block sunlight to the Belmont St units. 16th Street is an INCLINE; as such the new 9 story condo is in reality a much higher elevation building than nine levels, compared to the Belmont St townhouses. Third, Belmont Street (a very narrow street since there is street parking on both sides) can BARELY handle the existing ingress/egress of cars, and yet the new condo will DOUBLE the level of such traffic. Fourth, the new condo will require ANOTHER traffic light on 16th Street. Fifth, if YOU had bought a unit in a low-level condo unit and found out an enormous condo well beyond twice the size of yours (and completely out of place design-wise) is going up a few feet next to yours, YOU’D be unhappy too and less self-righteous about increasing housing density and the availability of more high-priced condos.

    • This is my favorite comment! The commenter thinks the new building “will probably block sunlight to the Belmont St Units”. I’d like to remind everyone that in the northern hemisphere (where Washington, DC resides) a building that is directly north of a group of townhouses will NEVER block sunlight, as the sun will come from the east, the west, the south, the north-east on early summer mornings, the north-west at dusk during the summer, but NEVER the north. IF ANYTHING, while not usually an appealing quality, this building might REFLECT sunlight onto the townhouses to give them even MORE LIGHT! EVERYBODY WINS!!!

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