ANC 6E Report – April 2017

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Three development teams bidding on a city-issued request for proposals (RFP) to redevelop Cobb Park and a K Street parking deck shared their proposals with the commissioners at the April meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6E. At the end of the discussion the practicability of the plans came into question. Commissioners Alex Padro (6E01, chair), Anthony Brown (6E02), Frank Wiggins (6E03, vice chair), Lily Roberts (6E04, secretary), Alex Marriott (6E05, treasurer), Alvin Judd (6E06), and Kevin Rogers (6E07) made up the quorum.

Proposals for Cobb Park and K Street Parking Deck
The Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) issued an RFP in May 2016 to redevelop Cobb Park and a parking deck at Second and K streets NW that sits directly above I-395. The proposals were due the following September. After reviewing them over the winter, DMPED chose three groups to present plans for approval. Representatives of the groups attended the meeting to share their proposals.

The MVT Partnership proposal calls for replacing the parking deck with a 688-unit building, with 481 of the units at market rate and 207 as affordable housing. The building will provide 140 parking spaces and 5,000 square-feet of retail space on the street. The building will be constructed in halves, with a walkway through the middle to connect pedestrians to opposite streets and a skyway on the upper floors. The proposal also provides courtyards and green space. The developers believe that the building will bring positive surveillance to the streets and Cobb Park. Building over the highway will be technically challenging, the group noted, but it can be done.

Capital Vista proposed to use the deck as an active park by installing a lightweight turf on the 90,000 square-foot roof to accommodate recreation. The deck has leakage problems during rain, so the group will have it waterproofed and sealed. On the Cobb Park portion of the site, plans call for a 165-room hotel and a 198-residential unit building, with 129 of the units priced at market rate and 69 as affordable for senior citizens. Each building will have ground-level retail space and underground parking. Dog parks, extra recreational parks, and green space, also designated in the plan, are to be designed with the help of the city, ANC 6E, and residents.

Tishman Speyer proposed nearly 20,000 square feet for grocery retail, 3,000 square feet for community event space, and nearly 7,000 square feet for two separate art buildings on the parking deck site. The deck site will also have space for recreational sports, pet exercise, landscaped areas, and a playground. Plans call for Cobb Park to transition from neighborhood to commercial by constructing a 350-residential-unit building, with 100 units priced at the area median income (AMI). Retail space will be provided on the ground floor.

Each group said it is looking to prioritize Ward 6 residents for employment opportunities. Commissioner Marriott expressed concerns about building on top of the deck site with a freeway running below it, and motioned to send a letter to DMPED to reexamine the structural viability. The motion passed with an amendment added by Chair Padro stating that the community is made aware of any building on the parcel and if it isn’t supported a separate RFP be issued for Cobb Park.

Zoning Support for Luxury Affordable Housing
A representative of Dantes Partners spoke about plans to convert a triangular parking lot at 888 New Jersey Ave. NW into a 104-unit, luxury affordable housing building. The lot is at the corner of New Jersey Avenue and H Street and is used for event parking only. The units will be split into 21 studio, 51 one-bedroom, and 31 two-bedroom apartments. The building will have a fitness center and computer room as well as 3,000 square feet of retail on the H Street side. The rent for 70 percent of the units will be priced at 60 percent of AMI. Residential parking will not be permitted and residents will have to use a private parking lot. Dantes Partners is studying the availability, capacity, and pricing of neighboring parking lots. It was also noted that $50,000 will be set aside for public art and community organizations. The commissioners voted to communicate support to the Zoning Commission for a request for development.

Grant to New Endeavors by Women
A spokeswoman from New Endeavors by Women requested a grant in the amount of $3,000 to fund three new computers for the program’s computer lab. The program started in 1988 and provides temporary and permanent housing for homeless women and children. Up to 200 women and children are served each year, and more than 3,000 have been served since the program’s inception. The facility’s lab would like to add the computers to improve resources for searching and applying for employment. The commissioners agreed to support the grant request.

Childcare Facility Gets Zoning Support
Representatives of Logan-Shaw Child Care requested the commission’s support for a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) application to increase the organization’s capacity of serving children from 20 to 51. The facility, located at 1700 Seventh St. NW, has 3,000 square feet and meets the 355 square-feet-per-child requirement. The current rule that has kept the number at 20 dates back to 1958. The commissioners motioned to communicate support of the application to BZA.

Intent to Enclose and Raise a Deck
A representative of a homeowner whose property is located at 1529 Eighth St. NW gave the commission a preliminary notice of intent to file an application with BZA to modify his deck. The rear portion of the home faces an alley and Jefferson Apartments. The alley has become busier with pedestrians and automobiles and the owner doesn’t like the exposure and exhaust. He would like to enclose and raise the deck 12 feet. The deck has a hot tub that is visible to passersby. The two most affected neighbors support the plan, and the owner would like to hear any concerns from the commissioners and residents now so they can be taken into consideration when this case is taken up at a future meeting.

ANC 6E will meet again at 6:30 p.m. on May 2 at the Shaw/Watha T. Daniel Public Library located at 1630 Seventh St. NW. Steve Holton can be contacted at ssholton@gmail.com.