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Dupont Mansion Hotel Plan Gets Pushback

by Shilpi Paul

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The plans to turn 15 Dupont Circle, the $26 million Patterson Mansion, into a boutique hotel have hit a roadblock: the Historic Preservation Office has found the current plans for a six-story addition to be built next to the mansion to be incompatible with the landmark.

French Quarter Hospitality is under contract to purchase the historic mansion, which has served as home to the Washington Club for decades. In order to build a hotel of a certain size to ensure a viable project, FQH hopes to build an addition adjacent to the historic building.

FQH, Studio 3877 Architects and a team representing the current owners of the mansion met with the Historic Preservation Review Board on Thursday. Unfortunately, the Historic Preservation staff was not supportive of the proposed addition as it is currently designed, and no vote was taken by the Board on the application; the team will be re-thinking the design and will appear before the Board at a later date.

According to the staff report (which includes FQH’s proposal), the addition “dominates the house and the surrounding streetscape.”

The HPO staff worried that the addition would detract from the integrity of the mansion as a free-standing building. The staff and the HPRB members were not opposed to the idea of an addition, but believed that as currently planned, the 65-feet addition was “aclassical,” with a large, unarticulated mass.

Several board members recommended a more “deferential” plan for the addition, particularly with regard to the spacing in relation to the mansion. The height is not as important as the illusion of space between the buildings, said one, and several reiterated that they were comfortable with more height.

The team behind the mansion was “taken aback” by the news, but are hopeful that a hotel is still possible. Other potential buyers included foreign governments who hoped to use the building as an embassy or consulate, they shared, but the sellers chose FQH because they liked the idea of the mansion returning to public use.

FQH plans to create several events spaces throughout the building for the public to access, and will be maintaining much of the interior space, including antiques and tapestries. The sellers mentioned that FQH didn’t offer the highest price, but had the most appealing offer.

The team will be returning to the HPRB at a later date.

See other articles related to: dupont circle, 15 dupont circle

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dupont_mansions_hotel_plan_goes_before_the_hprb_ordered_back_to_the_drawing/7740

1 Comment

  1. jj said at 1:30 pm on Friday October 25, 2013:

    I support the hotel use, but agree the design could be significantly improved and am glad it will be revised. A suitable compromise should be reached, but using the specter of an embassy buying it is a silly tactic. I live between two embassies and they make perfectly fine neighbors.  They’re open during business hours and closed when I’m home in the evenings and weekends—unlike a hotel that would be open 24-7. What makes this neighborhood unique is all the interesting embassies in the old mansions, so if it had to become an embassy to sell it, that would be just fine too (and wouldn’t require a monster addition).  Frankly, while I do support the hotel as a use for this beautiful old building, an embassy would be a lot less disruptive.

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