6 Proposals for H Street Library Redevelopment

by Shilpi Paul

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1300 H Street NE, currently. Photo courtesy of NCinDC.

1300 H Street NE, an address at the heart of the H Street Corridor and currently the home of R.L. Christian Community Library, will get a facelift very soon.

Last night six development teams met with the community to present their plans for a mixed-use project at the site. The city put out a request for proposals a few months ago, and the District’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) will choose one project from among those presented by the end of the year. DMPED was hoping for mixed-income projects with community-serving features.

Following, in the order they were presented last night, are the plans. We will publish renderings as we get a hold of them.

We felt that this would be a perfect opportunity for a poll. So once you’ve read all six proposals, please choose your favorite three below:


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28-Unit Rental with Outdoor Space and 3K Feet of Retail

Working with PGN Architects, Valor is planning a 28-unit apartment building with 3,000 square feet of retail. The exterior is similar to their other projects, such as The Maia at 1350 Maryland Ave NE, with brick on the facade. They intend for the project to blend in with what is currently on H Street, and they hope to solicit community feedback regarding retail. Three units will be set aside as affordable, and the project will have 20 underground parking spaces and 1,400 square feet of outdoor space.


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30-Unit Condo Targeting Artists, Social Entrepreneurs, Local Merchants with Community Ownership

Rise, the group behind Popularise and Fundrise, partnered with H Street CDC to create a proposal that incorporates Fundrise’s model of community investment. With an industrial-looking exterior, they are planning a 30-unit condo building with a large retail component, with 20 percent of the units held as affordable and ideally going to artists and social entrepreneurs. The retail will include a local food market from Arcadia and ten retail incubators for local merchants. Through Fundrise, community members will be able to buy shares in the project and to profit if it is successful.


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24 Large-ish Units and a Yes! Organic Market

Neighborhood Development Company, the team behind The Heights on Georgia Avenue and The Vue proposed a 24-unit residential building with 6,278 square feet of retail. The only developers with a committed retail tenant, NDC would bring Yes! Organic Market to the space. The units will be mostly one-bedrooms, on the large side, said the developers. Their facade is light colored with several bay windows. There will also be a green roof, and they are hoping for LEED Gold certification.


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40 Smallish Units with Community Arts Space and Public Gathering Area

NCD LLC, as the team is known, presented plans that highlighted the arts community. They are partnering with the artists behind Gallery O on H to create some sort of community arts space on the site. One of the taller proposals, the Art Deco-style building will have 40 residential units, with 10 percent reserved for those making up to 50 percent of the area median income (AMI) and another 10 percent for those making up to 80 percent. The units are on the smaller size, ranging from 500 to 650 square feet. The retail will be an all-day restaurant, and the building will be pulled back from the street in order to create a 2,500 square foot public gathering area. They are aiming for LEED Platinum certification. Wall Development has another project down the street on the 1100 block of H Street.


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28K Feet of Residential Plus Live/Work Units (and Maybe a Bookstore/Cafe)

John Torti of architecture firm Torti Gallas presented the plans for Atlas Partners, a team that also includes Community Three Development, the firm behind condo conversions such as The Schaefer and The Residences at St. Monica’s. Incorporated into the almost 29,000 square feet of residential space will be several live/work units, set aside for entrepreneurs, to serve as local business incubators. About three units will be set aside as affordable. For their 4,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, they are hoping to find a bookstore/cafe tenant. Eleven parking spaces will be available. There will also be a memorial for R.L. Christian on the site.


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36 Family-sized 2BRs and 3BRs with Police Substation

Argos presented plans for a building with 36 two- and three-bedroom units. They hope to make the homes family-sized. Eight will be affordable, and there will be 24 parking spaces on site. The facade is currently made of brick, metal and glass. The 8,000 square foot retail space will also house an on-site police substation, and the developers will make sure there are video cameras and other security features around. For the retail component, they are considering a market, but are trying to stay away from adding another bar to the H Street Corridor. Another aspect of the proposal is a scholarship in R.L. Christian’s honor, which will be $5,000 per year for three years. Argos previously developed the condo conversion project The Station and the Fire House nearby and is working on a 15-unit project in The Hurt Home in Georgetown.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/6_proposals_for_h_street_church_redevelopment/6123

10 Comments

  1. Campy said at 12:08 pm on Friday October 5, 2012:

    Really anything but the PGN/Valor plan. They should be ashamed proposing such a boring concept.

  1. Urban_Architect said at 1:40 pm on Friday October 5, 2012:

    I’m not surprised at the PGN/Valor proposal.  Have you seen the building at 3rd and L NE?  They’re using vinyl siding on the exterior.  I’m waiting to see the finished product before being too quick to judge, but I’m not loving the exterior design at all right now.

    Valor also sold that same building to Ellisdale (the contractor) and once ownership changed, the retail was dropped from the project.  I wonder, if something like that would happen to the above proposal.

  1. honestly said at 2:12 pm on Friday October 5, 2012:

    All of these proposals need to propose more parking. Someone needs to build something in the area that has a bigger parking lot/garage that can be used as public parking. None of these proposals has even enough parking for its own future residents. Ridiculous

  1. KB said at 2:16 pm on Friday October 5, 2012:

    That plot is not that large. Where is all of that going? Anyone of those projects seems larger than the land that’s available.

  1. Amanda said at 1:42 pm on Monday October 8, 2012:

    Totally agree about the blandness of the PGN/Valor design. The rest are better, but I bet those cool amenities like a community arts space or a bookstore will disappear long before this project becomes a reality. They sound good and the community loves them, but they don’t tend to turn a profit and thus can’t fit in the ultimate plan (see: Hine school redevelopment project).

  1. Annoyingmous said at 10:48 am on Tuesday October 9, 2012:

    All the plans put in less parking than the residents will need, in a neighborhood that already has less existing parking than the existing residents need.

    Therefore, all the plans suck.

  1. Jessica said at 10:35 pm on Thursday October 11, 2012:

    None of the above
    Any development on H street should fit its surroundings - that means small scale and not mega complex
    H Street is an attractive neighborhood for a reason
    These proposals take the charm out
    Why not promote the market that’s been forming there in recent years?

  1. Tom A. said at 10:10 am on Monday October 15, 2012:

    They are all basically the same. 3 stories of residential with retail on the first floor.  And they all look too large for the lot.  Not gonna bother to vote.

  1. Frank said at 12:29 pm on Tuesday October 16, 2012:

    I agree with Jessica. None of the above.

    I think the ANC can provide additional guidance and ask some of these groups to revise their proposals.

    Here’s what I want to see:

    1) A proper memorial for R. L. Christian (a scholarship for a few years doesn’t cut it in my view)
    2) Enough underground parking (at least one proposal has none!)
    3) Setback from road needed at minimum like other buildings at this intersection.  13th is very narrow and this project will bring clogged traffic at the surrounding intersections. 
    4) More than just a single grocery store as the store.  My understanding is the proposal with Yes! will not have any other stores.
    5) A design that will fit well into the neighborhood and not be bland.

    For me, I love the general design of the last one presented by Argos, “36 Family-sized 2BRs and 3BRs with Police Substation” and it has its own +/-

    Negatives:
    *Project height might be very tall for the area
    *No underground parking
    *No physical memorial for R.L. Christian incorporated into project

    Positives:
    *Great design suitable for area. Does not look like a boooring Govt building.
    *Police substation
    *The dry cleaners next door is part of the project

    I want to ask the ANC to send some of these groups back to the drawing board.  I did not vote above.

  1. Ashira Malka said at 3:47 am on Tuesday November 20, 2012:

    Why, oh why does this wonderful building have to be torn down?
    It could be used as a great greenhouse just the way it is,
    with community yoga classes, language lessons, and other enrichment activities.
    Talk about letting in the light—what other structure have you seen anywhere else within hundreds of miles if not more that does so as effectively? The yard could be made into a gorgeous gathering space for outdoor picnics, while there is still an outdoors left.

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