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56-Unit Project on 14th Street Plans to Eliminate Parking

by Shilpi Paul

image
Courtesy of PGN Architects.

On Monday night, Madison Investments and PGN Architects returned to the ANC 1B Design Review Committee to seek approval for the revised plans for a 56-unit residential development at the corner of 14th Street and Wallach Street NW (map).

Since we last reported on the project, Madison Investments has made a few changes. First, they have reduced the number of units from 60 to 56, and the plan is for a mixture of studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms.

However, what led to a debate last night among committee members was the plan to eliminate parking from the project. (Previously, nine underground spaces were planned.) The developers are open to putting a stipulation in the lease prohibiting residents from acquiring a residential parking permit, an increasingly popular solution in the city.

The topic divided the committee. Zara Jilani, who resides over the single member district where the project will be built, was in favor of the plan.

“We need to show our support for something like this,” said Jilani. “U Street development is not sustainable; there is no more space for cars. You have to attract people to stay in these buildings who don’t have cars.”

Other commissioners were worried that tenants who will live in the two-bedroom units will likely be older and more settled than the typical studio dweller, perhaps with children and a greater need for a car. Another commissioner worried about displacing the cars on the current parking lot that sits on the site, which usually has 15 to 20 cars parked on it.

The committee was unable to resolve their issues, and a motion in support of the plan failed to pass. Madison Investments will go before the full ANC later this month, and before the Board of Zoning Adjustment in early October.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/14th_and_wallach_project_eliminates_parking/7564

24 Comments

  1. GFR said at 9:56 am on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    All this debate will be moot if the enforcement of the parking permit moratorium works. It seems like the DMV should just have a list of addresses where residents can not get a residential parking permit and not issue permits to those addresses.

  1. RC said at 10:00 am on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    @GFR—That’s not what happens?  This solution seems like it would work well with buy-in from the city.

  1. Diana said at 10:47 am on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    @RC @GFR

    I agree completely. Just have a list of buildings that can’t get residential parking permits at the appropriate cit agency and that’s that.

  1. charlie said at 10:51 am on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    I’m wondering if the price will be any different than the average 550-650 a square foot that is usual in the area.

  1. Scoot said at 11:12 am on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    I don’t think the developer cares whether the building attracts families (who, if they don’t “need” a car, would certainly find it more useful than a single).

    Maybe a solution would be to only let owners in the 2-bedroom units apply for a parking permit, or demonstrate some kind of “need” that must be individually approved by the city.

  1. LessParking! said at 12:11 pm on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    Just let the market decide. If tenants absolutely can’t live without parking, then this building won’t work and no more will be built like it (which I seriously doubt). If it does work, all the better. We can grow the population without growing congestion. It is not the job of the government to tell developers to build parking.

    One thing is for certain: more parking = more driving = more traffic.

  1. DD said at 2:12 pm on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    So the concern over not approving is that the current residents have more of a right to the street parking than new residents? Do all of those rejecting have off street parking? I don’t think the “I was there first argument” applies here.

    Also, when these townhomes were first planned and built there was a streetcar system, and local supermarkets, schools and anything else you needed very local without the use of a car.

    Ultimately you do need parking or an alternate form of transportation. Are the buses along 14th street meeting the demand?

  1. kob said at 2:39 pm on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    You know how this is going to work. The RPP exclusion will be one confusing line in several hundred pages of condo docs. Buyers might not even see it or understand it, especially if they are from out of state.  New owners will likely buy completely unaware of the RPP restrictions, and discover it only after they attempt to register their cars. The developers, by then, are long, long gone. But I imagine that the condo association will eventually go to court to change this, or simply remove as a by-law change. They will fight it. And what’s to stop them? If the District doesn’t have any special law recognizing RPP restrictions as binding forever .... what law blocks the owners from rejecting this exclusion? 

    But beyond that issue, I don’t think the District, or developers, should be adopting rules that favor incumbent property owners, and are being adopted only to maximize a developer’s profit. It’s bad policy.  It’s horribly unfair, and it creates an entitled class of property owners who don’t deserve it.

  1. Ayn Rind said at 2:51 pm on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    Just let the market decide. If tenants absolutely can’t live without parking, then this building won’t work and no more will be built like it

    And in the meantime, everyone in the neighborhood suffers.

  1. kob said at 2:56 pm on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    @Scoot “Maybe a solution would be to only let owners in the 2-bedroom units apply for a parking permit, or demonstrate some kind of “need” that must be individually approved by the city.”

    Ok, if you are going to have a policy where people have to demonstrate need (which will involve turning over personal information to the District to prove it), then every time any house is sold in the District, that’s over two bedrooms, the District should automatically pull the RPP rights and require the new owner to demonstrate “need.” If we’re going to adopt rotten policies, let’s make them uniform and have everyone get their privacy invaded in exchange for having a car.

  1. Ruth said at 3:26 pm on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    I have stopped shopping and going to restaurants on 14th Street because the parking is so bad.

  1. Brian said at 3:45 pm on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    The solution would be to not allow builders to build huge condo buildings without supplying parking for the new owners and their guests.  When people bought individual housing in these neighborhoods without garages street parking was adequate to support the demand.  Buildings that house many more than previously lived in these areas should also be required to add the resources their new tenants will need.

  1. Justin S said at 4:38 pm on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    Brian,

    You’re suggesting that we should scuttle $100,000s of thousands of tax dollars & sales revenues toward local businesses so that a handful of existing residents can maintain exclusive personal control of a public resource?

    That sounds worse than protectionist. This problem solves itself if we just let it happen. The only “victims” are the people who seem to think that they own public resources.

  1. Colin said at 8:13 pm on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    This is ridiculous. No one has a right to free parking. DC should set a limit on the number of parking permits and then have a yearly auction. Parking is a scare commodity and should be treated as such.

  1. Tim Jones said at 8:42 pm on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    If the developers want to make a ton of money, they must pay by providing parking. In general, people are not going to give up their cars as Portland, which has returned to requiring parking, discovered: http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-19687-block_busters.html

  1. Larry Edwards said at 10:19 pm on Tuesday September 17, 2013:

    @Tim - I believe the Portland comparison is moot as only 9% of their residents do NOT own cars compared to Washington DC where 40% of residents do not own cars. That is why their plan failed. Also if you did continue to build parking in DC with 1100 residents movign into the city each month, you can be sure that the city would be in a permanent state of congestion and pollution. DC’s population will more than double at this rate in 50 years or less.

    I would in rebuttal offer you this article on how Boston and other cities are following a similar trend and also mention the fact that only 50% of millenials have drivers licenses.

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2013/07/04/boston-limiting-new-parking-number-residences-soars/kYMnkSr6l55wBMgH4d7VKP/story.html

  1. Ginger said at 9:46 am on Wednesday September 18, 2013:

    Is anyone else bothered by the lack of curb cuts in the image from PGN Architects?

  1. Alex said at 12:45 pm on Wednesday September 18, 2013:

    @Ginger - I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt.  To create this render they had to remodel the the entire scene.  I’m sure they’re intending to have curb cuts.

  1. yeah said at 1:16 pm on Wednesday September 18, 2013:

    I don’t believe in the RPP compromise, but you gotta consider this.

    For many of us long time residents, we moved into certain neighborhoods expecting a certain lifestyle.  When things change on you (and for the worse), can you really blame us for resisting???

    Maybe someone can explain it to me - but what is even the mechanism where high density buildings like this are going up in low density areas? 

    I live in a NW neighborhood populated mostly with rowhouses.  If a big ass development like this were to pop up, bringing in 1100 residents, you’d bet I’d be pissed and worried about parking among other things.

  1. CX said at 2:59 pm on Wednesday September 18, 2013:

    If the parking is eliminated at the building and residential parking permits are prohibited, this project generates zero demand for parking. If the residential permits are enforced, this shouldn’t be a problem for people who live in the surrounding area. Increasing demand for transit however should make the neighborhood more acessible for everyone. This is a step forward.

  1. Earl said at 3:31 pm on Wednesday September 18, 2013:

    In other news, only white people in PNG’s rendering of the new street scape.  Intentional?

  1. chris said at 3:49 pm on Wednesday September 18, 2013:

    All the new development is really only happening on 14th street.  I can’t think of any major developments on 16th, 15th, 13th, 12th street.  Yeah, demand for parking maybe growing right along 14th street, but the rest of the area is unchanged.  People can just park a couple blocks away.  Big deal, that’s the tradeoff for living in the liveliest, densest place in the city.

  1. ? said at 4:38 pm on Wednesday September 18, 2013:

    to Chris - No big deal?

    The streets a few blocks away are NOT empty.

    And that’s the thing.  For many of us DC residents (and not transients), we CHOSE to live in low density areas.  Neighborhoods with ROWHOUSES, not high rises.

    How people can get away with building buildings like these is inconceivable to me.  Then again - not that inconceivable.  Developers are notoriously sketchy - wonder how much money these people have given to DC government officials.

  1. Mike said at 3:27 pm on Monday September 23, 2013:

    I live in SW DC where off-street parking was required when buildings were constructed.  I dare say, most of our parking spaces (~400) are filled most of the time.  Many of us use Metro or walk but want a car for long trips, not to drive downtown.  Many of us also own more than one car—usually a collectible that rarely is driven.  My problem with these new parking restrictions is they don’t consider that most of us who live in DC don’t use our cars, but may have need for a parking space in our building.

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