Gazebo Gone from Latney Funeral Home in Petworth – Rendering of What’s to Come


@dialeidoscope tweeted us:

“.@PoPville heartbroken! this building on Georgia and Randolph lost its lovely tower gazebo structure. Decapitated!”

Ed. Note: The gazebo part suffered some serious damage after the earthquake of 2011.

Another reader writes:

“Wondering if you saw the recent news about the plan to demolish the Latney Funeral home, on the corner of Georgia and Randolph, to make way for a 20-unit residential building.

It appears that in addition to demolishing a beautiful, if slightly rundown historic home, they are also seeking a variance to avoid the off-street parking requirement which will only add to the already congested parking. I live around the corner and have not seen any public notices about the application for a variance.”

From a press release:

“The Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) granted MMg for a variance from the off-street parking requirements, to allow the construction of a new six-story, mixed-use building containing 20 dwelling units and ground floor retail at 3831 Georgia Avenue, N.W. in Petworth.

Murillo Malnati Group, submitted this self-certified application on May 1, 2015, for the property located at 3831 Georgia Avenue, N.W. requesting a variance from the off-street parking requirements. MMg was represented by Christopher Collins and Jessica Bloomfield of Holland & Knight; Bill Bonstra of Bonstra Haresign Architects; and Osborne R. George of O.R. George Associates, Inc.

The project received conditional support from D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Office of Planning (OP). The Board also received 41 letters in support of the application from residents located in close proximity to the Site. Additionally, The Board also received a letter from Zach Teutsch, Single Member District Commissioner for ANC 4C05 (Ex. 50), who expressed his support for the project and described the importance of transit-oriented development and the value of creating additional density near the Metrorail station.

DDOT’s report stated that it has no objection to the requested variance with the following transportation demand management (“TDM”) measures: For rental apartments provide complimentary annual bikeshare, complimentary annual car-share membership subscription or $100 Metro SmartTrip card for the tenants of each unit for the first ten years.

The Site is situated in the Petworth/Georgia Avenue neighborhood of Washington, D.C., which is an area that is highly walkable and rich in public and private transportation alternatives. Petworth has seen significant new residential and retail development, which has resulted in the area’s emergence as a vibrant urban neighborhood. The Site has excellent public transportation options, with convenient access to the Georgia Avenue/Petworth Metrorail Station, multiple Metrobus routes, car- and bike-share facilities, on-street bicycle routes, and safe pedestrian infrastructure. One of the conditions of the variance requires MMg to make off-site parking available for two additional parking tenants if necessary.

MMg will demolish the existing building on the Site and construct a new six-story, 70-foot mixed-use retail/residential rental apartment building. The building will include approximately 1,488 square feet of ground floor retail and 20 residential units on floors two through six. The cellar will incorporate retail storage space and a bicycle storage room. The ground floor residential lobby will be accessed from Georgia Avenue, and the retail use will be accessed from Georgia Avenue and Randolph Street. Two at-grade parking spaces will be located at the rear of the Site and accessed from the public alley. The proposed project complies with all of the applicable provisions of the GA Overlay District, and the proposed uses are consistent with the Site’s GA/C-3-A zoning designation.”

3831 Georgia Ave_Schematic Perspective -01

56 Comment

  • While it’s sad that a handsome, historic building like this is being torn down, I’m 100% OK with them waiving the off-street parking requirement.

    Parking minimums drive up the cost of housing (by reducing the amount of housing that can fit on a given parcel) and encourage driving over more socially beneficial modes. Plus, this is right by a metro stop and several bus lines in a very walkable, bikable city. It doesn’t need parking and DC doesn’t need more cars.

    • i agree, but then again, i don’t like right next door.

    • You could make the same argument about height limits driving up the price or accommodation. And waiving the requirement for parking spaces doesn’t necessary change any lot utilization limits. With a building like this, rent is based on the going market rate not the cost of construction, etc. Limiting parking isn’t going to result in more units that offset costs and bring down the overall rent. Its also not adding enough supply to the market to have any measurable impact on rent.
      On the plus side, it’s a small enough building that it probably won’t add many cars to the crowded street parking up there.

      • You could make the same argument about height limits because they do indeed also drive up price of housing in the city. Both things limit supply.

        • Yes and no. While I agree that more units usually means lower rent, I don’t know if relaxing the height restrictions would lead to a huge influx of more tall buildings. Up to about 6 stories, you can get away with concrete foundations and stick built structures. Above that, you’re looking at much more major construction, large cranes, etc. The rental marketplace, except in a few neighborhoods, just doesn’t support the cost of constructing taller buildings. I suspect that relaxing the height limits wouldn’t result in a massive influx of new units as a direct result. It’s still cheaper for developers to put modest sized buildings on underdeveloped lots, etc.
          I should have been a little clearer with my argument. Sorry for the confusion!

          • west_egg

            And even if the height limit went away tomorrow and a dozen skyscrapers were built in Petworth, you better believe every one of them would have the same “luxury” finishes with “luxury” prices to match.

          • +1 to West_Egg.

      • Accountering

        Well, demand for units without parking is going to be slightly lower, so rents will necessarily be a bit lower (smaller group of potential renters – car free folks)

        • Not sure the demand will really be lower — it will make a difference only to people who were willing to pay extra for parking in the first place.
          My understanding was that the garage at Park Place is largely empty because parking spaces are NOT included in the rent (and I’m guessing it’s the same at similar new and fancy buildings). So some people with cars elect to pay for garage parking, and others get a Residential Parking Permit and try their luck with street parking. (And of course there’s a third group of renters who don’t have cars.)

        • Textdoc is right. I think there will be more demand for these units because people do not want to pay for an amenity they are not using. I would guess most people moving in will not have cars, and the few that do have cars would prefer street parking to paying extra for off-street parking. Unless you force everyone to buy parking there’s no other way to have it.
          Frankly I think a lot of this is thinly veiled resentment from people who don’t like to see the neighborhood changing.

          • “[P]eople do not want to pay for an amenity they are not using” — Definitely true, but I thought that parking wasn’t included in the rent anyway at Park Place and other new-ish apartment buildings.

          • It usually isn’t included as most buildings don’t have a 1:1 ratio for parking to apartments. Instead they rent out on a first come, first served basis. About the only time you see parking included in the rent is a privately owned condo or house that has a parking space (and the landlord isn’t trying to separately rent the parking).

          • GBinCH — Right. The problem is that when there’s a choice between paying $150 ($100? $200? not sure what these garage spaces in Petworth go for…) per month for a garage parking space and paying $35 per YEAR for an RPP, most people go for the RPP. Which means the garage parking space ends up being really underutilized, thus defeating its intended purpose of easing the parking pressure on surrounding streets.

    • The ANC commissioners and SMDs nearby are generally older folks and are VERY DETERMINED that no one use their precious street parking. They don’t honestly believe that people in those buildings will live car-free because it’s inconceivable to them. It’s a bummer, as it potentially inhibits development in a VERY walkable part of the city.

  • More of the same. Damn, the DC area is getting homogenous with these apartments. Rockville, Merrifield, DC, Columbia Pike, all looks the same. Stick built junk with paper thins walls. As long as transplants keep signing the leases they will keep on building. Good to be a local developer!

    • I agree. It’s a shame they couldn’t incorporate the existing building into a new design and give it more character or at least make a nod to the historical character of the city. I hate this cookie cutter crap.

      • A hundred years ago would you have said that all of the new rowhouses in Petworth were “cookie cutter crap”

        • dat – No doubt about it. However, the petworth rows are still here and going strong. These new buildings are not built nor designed to last. They will not be here in 100 years. It is not just the design that irks me, it is the poor quality.

      • meh. It’s not ideal but it’s not that bad. Renters these days like units with big windows. There are plenty of buildings worse than this. Take a look at Kansas just North of Varnum.

    • just another soulless building.

    • This is architectural Xanax.

  • It’s a shame they couldn’t design a building with a little more personality. This building looks like Farragut North circa 1985. So sad.
    More kudos to the Fahrenheit

    • Agreed this is more architectural blandness we see over and over and over. So sad that a city like DC doesn’t push harder for architectural variety – the demand for real estate is so strong they could easily make that a requirement for new developments. I’m sure it all boils down to making as much money as fast as possible, and little if any concern about enhancing the nearby neighborhood.

  • I am also going to miss Latney Funeral Home’s sign inside the front door which read, “Same Low Price, Even For Fatties!”

  • Accountering

    Excellent. Parking here isn’t horrible, and it is quite close to metro and the 70/79 busses. Thanks Zach Teutsch for advocating for the continued improvement of the area.
    As far as the facade, just because it was old doesn’t mean it was worth keeping.

    • +a bajillion
      Street parking in this area is not tight. People who pay to live in your neighborhood have just as much right to park on the public street as everyone else who lives in the neighborhood (assuming that RPPs are given for residents in that building).

  • As a nearby resident, I fully support the demolition of this crumbling and blighted building. In my personal experience, the parking issue is overblown. There is parking available for residents, but some people think they “own” the spot directly in front of their house. I’m sorry, but they don’t. Many people choose to have a big back yard instead of a parking pad in the rear of the house. It’s all about choices. The developer of this building seems on the level. He even said he wants to bring in a SweetGreens, Bakery/Coffeeshop or another locally owned restaurant. I applaud his efforts and attempts to engage the community. The rhetoric from certain ANC members was over the top.

    • +1. Almost all the lots of Petworth have room for off street parking in the back. It’s insane that the parking thing is even an issue this close to the metro.

    • Seconded. I also live very nearby, and while this building may have been beautiful and charming at one point, is now neither. It is in disrepair and seems out of place in the neighborhood somehow. I’m not exactly charmed by the rendering – yes, it’s very blah and generic-looking – but it’s 10x preferable if it’s going to bring more shops and eateries. Just my humble opinion.

    • Absolutely! The building is old and not historic. Those worried about its preservation never cared about the litter surrounding it. Plenty of parking available on GA (no rush hour restrictions) on Taylor, 9th, Randolph, etc.
      and now people will be forced to clean the debris behind the alleys, so that they may park behind their homes.

  • There shouldn’t even be an off-street parking requirement there. Besides, it’s across the street from Safeway and a block from Metro.

  • clevelanddave

    There is no way they should waive parking requirements: all you are doing is setting yourself up for a situation where residents can’t find street parking, then there won’t be any street parking for businesses and visitors. Then you will complain about how there isn’t any parking or that businesses are going out and it will be your own fault because you didn’t build enough parking spaces for residents.

    Yea, DC is a walkable city- if you are young and healthy and it is between April and November and it isn’t raining and you aren’t carrying groceries or pulling a couple kids around. I guess it is a different version of the one percent who prefer “socially beneficial modes” of transportation over what is convenient and/or appropriate for many/most other people.

    • Almost all the houses nearby have off street parking. And several of the apartment buildings have excess parking. These are small units very close to the metro. There is absolutely no need to force developers to build new parking. If you want to have guaranteed parking feet from your door there are plenty of neighborhoods in MD and VA where that’s possible. It makes no sense in the city.

      • clevelanddave

        Yes but there aren’t enough off street parking spaces if even one out of three people have a car. “If you don’t like it you can move” – why don’t you go move yourself- and take your bike with you.

    • Proposed new zoning regulations, also known as the ZRR, have been posted on the Office of Zoning web-site. The proposed regulations would reduce minimum parking requirements citywide, and the minimum parking requirement for a 20-unit building within a half-mile of a Metro station would be 3 spaces. (Only 2 spaces for an 18-unit building, and only 16 spaces for a 100-unit building). For buildings within a half mile of a Metro station, there would be no conditions that would limit residents ability to obtain residential parking permits (and visitor parking permits if approved for that ANC).

      • clevelanddave

        That is ridiculous. And counter productive. It is anti business (nowhere for customers to park), anti visitor (nowhere for visitors to park), anti seniors (because they will have nowhere to park) and anti family (because, you guessed it, bikes and metro and buses don’t work too well for families). What a shame.

        • These are bizarre and ridiculous claims. DuPont and Georgetown have little parking. Are they anti-business and anti-visitor? If seniors need parking they can get a handicapped pass. Despite rampant handicap fraud, most spots remain empty and the offer for more spots was turned down. This is a caricature nimby comment and completely untrue.

        • re anti-business. I also have concerns about lack of commercial spots for businesses. If you really wanted to benefit commercial areas you would be in favor of removing all day RPP spots and replacing them with metered spots. business interests and your Nimby interests are not always aligned.

          • Agreed. I’d like to see more metered spots around Petworth and Columbia Heights. The city also needs a lot more loading zones. It’s not a problem here yet, but 14th street is a mess. Much of the parking in that area should be converted to commercial loading zones to alleviate the problem of trucks using the street to load. Side streets should then be converted to metered parking.

    • Let’s imagine a scenario where you have two 20-unit buildings: In Building A, you have (20) 1,500 SF apartments, some with 2+ BRs. In Building B, you have (2) 500-700 sf bedrooms, mostly studios and some 1 BRs. BOTH buildings would have the SAME parking requirements under current zoning. Don’t you think the residents of Building A are more likely to own cars? No matter where the two buildings are constructed, it’s more likely that larger units will contain more families and multiple-person households, factors tending to indicate car ownership (reasonable assumption).

      This proposed development is a “Building B”: All the units are studios or junior 1 BRs. To criticize the developer’s request for parking relief because “that’s the zoning code” misses some of the logical analysis of the example above. AND this development is across from a metro, on a major artery with bus lines, across from a grocery store. AND the developer said at the BZA hearing that 80% of the units are going to fall below the DC Area Median Income (AMI) level. ANNNND it’s impossible to built an underground lot at this site because of size constraints. So it’s either build this project as the developer has proposed or do something so scaled back it won’t be worthwhile for any developer to touch it and it will remain an old and blighted building taking up valuable space in front of a metro, a place people who can’t afford to live downtown could live in.

      I’m sorry if you’re a resident and you bought a house next to Georgia Ave. and across from a metro stop. The need for transit oriented housing trumps your imaginary right to park in front of your house.

    • In Montgomery County, in their recently revised zoning regulations, they did take unit size into account. For apartment buildings that are in a reduced parking area, there is a one space per unit requirement, 20 spaces for a 20 unit building, but outside that area the parking requirement increases with the number of bedrooms: one space for an efficiency, 1.25 spaces for a one-bedroom, 1.5 spaces for a two-bedroom and 2 spaces for 3 or more bedrooms.

      Arlington County’s requirement does not take into account unit size. They require 1.125 spaces per unit for the first 200 units, and one space per unit for each additional unit. (23 spaces for a 20-unit building)

      OTOH, DC’s proposed regulations would reduce the minimum parking requirement from 0.25 to 0.5 spaces per unit depending on zone, to approximately 0.167 spaces per unit within a half mile of Metro or a quarter mile of a streetcar or priority bus line (3 spaces for a 20-unit building) and 0.333 spaces per unit elsewhere.

  • Excellent! Thank god the obstructionists on ANC4D weren’t successful in stopping this. There is so much parking in the nearby blocks, and the new buildings across GA both have tons of excess parking after being forced to comply with requirements. I was terrified we we’re going to be stuck with an abandoned building and vacant lot for another 5 years.
    I hope people in Petworth start to realize that bringing development to the corridor will reduce crime and make the area for everyone. Hopefully this and the almost complete Farenheight will really incentivize the owners of some of the other blighted structures along GA to make use of their property.

    • AMEN

      • Exactly. Truth be told… This isn’t about parking. It’s about stopping any and all development. The ANC Rep for this area, Timothy Jones, has opposes any and all development associated with Georgia Ave. Every. Single. Project. Granted, he changes his reasoning based upon the latest “hot topic”. In fact, the chair of the ANC, Vann-Di Galloway, rents a room in a house. He isn’t even a property owner, hence, he does everything he can to stunt property values. I welcome new stores and restaurants to Petworth. I certainly don’t want to displace current residents, but parking waivers and zoning variances are not asking that much. It helps us all!

        • west_egg

          Oh noes, the ANC chair is a filthy *renter*? My word, the neighborhood really has gone downhill. Heaven forfend the idea that the proletariat should have any kind of representation in “their” government.

          • You have a point that some people in the city treat renters as a second class. While I disagree with that attitude, I think it’s completely reasonable to point out that the long term incentives for people renting vs owners are not the same, and in fact are often directly in opposition.

        • Seriously, why do these filthy renters even have the right to vote? Everyone knows that property owners are the only ones who should be able to make decisions about our city and country.

    • petworthnews

      This is ANC 4C, not 4D. Ultimately, I think the ANC voted to oppose the parking variance because so many residents were concerned about a street that is already tight on parking.

      However, it’s important to remember that as a rental property, it’s going to attract more short-term, younger residents who are more likely to not own a vehicle. Plus, the developer is planning on offering bike & car-share accounts, bike parking and a real-time metro status board in the lobby. It’s 2 blocks from the metro, across the street from Safeway and 1-3 blocks from multiple bars and restaurants. It’s perfectly situated for an apartment building full of tenants who don’t own a car. Latney’s was a neat building but that corner lot will be able to provide more density and more consumers for local businesses. It’s a good move.

      • “This is ANC 4C, not 4D” -thanks for clarifying. .
        “Ultimately, I think the ANC voted to oppose the parking variance because so many residents were concerned about a street that is already tight on parking.”- Do you believe them? I read your account and my overwhelming impression was that these were people who opposed development in the neighborhood and would use any pretext to oppose the building.

        • petworthnews

          I didn’t get the impression that the opposition was against “development” so much as parking issues, as concerns about the new building / parking were from new & long-time residents. The 21 letters submitted by residents at the last ANC 4C meeting were about lack of parking, or future impact on parking. Of course, that could be a pretext by some (I can’t speak for them, obviously).

          In any case, I think the ANC made a strategic mistake in not working with the developer. They had to know the developer was going to get the variance from the Zoning Board. Instead, they didn’t have any conversations with the developer and voted to oppose the parking variance, losing any potential leverage and likely delaying any future discussions with the developer / building mgt on how the building could support the community (donations to a park, community events, hosting bicycle workshops, etc, just to throw a few ideas out there). Plus, having some input into the type of retail they end up leasing the first floor space to would have been nice.

  • What a horribly bland and boring looking building. It is unfortunate that the developer does t realize their new building could be so much more desirable and unique if they put the extra effort into incorporating the historic building with an addition. And the neighborhood would also retain a bit more character.

  • Woo Hoo!

    But make them add parking.

    • How about no? Quoting from Donald Shoup’s paper “The High Cost of Free Parking”:
      “The only research on how parking requirements affect housing shows that they raise housing costs, reduce urban density, and reduce land values. In 1961, Oakland, California, began to require one parking space per dwelling unit for apartment buildings. Brian Bertha (1964) collected data for 45 apartment projects developed in the four years before Oakland introduced the parking requirement, and for 19 projects developed in the two years after. After
      parking was required, the construction cost per dwelling unit rose by 18 percent, housing density fell by 30 percent, and land values fell by 33 percent.”
      His book on the subject is way more comprehensive. Parking requirements are awful policy.

  • Would it ever occur to an architect to put in balconies, or is the weight of Americans too much for this cheap, disposable flavor of crappy buildings.
    Good luck filling the retail spaces. Restaurant saturation is imminent. Everything else you can buy on the internet.

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