loading...

Neighbors Call Plan to Redevelop Dupont Circle Church “An Unholy Alliance”

by Lark Turner

image
A rendering of the new church building by MTFA, an architecture firm.

Neighbors of a Dupont Circle church pledged Wednesday night to do “everything they can” to derail the development of condos on part of the church’s site in its bid to help pay for the construction of a new church building.

The church plans to use the sale of some of its land to pay for what it says is a much-needed new building on the site, which currently offers neighbors the use of plenty of green space on the corner of Church and 18th Streets. In a meeting about the project for ANC 2B residents on Wednesday, various neighbors called the plan “an unholy alliance” and “bullsh*t,” and one urged the church to “find another facility” or “take up begging.”

The residential building is slated to be developed by CAS Riegler with architect Hickok Cole. The building will primarily need approval on historic preservation grounds; the rest would be built by-right. A preliminary RFP suggested zoning would support a little under 60 units on six to seven floors on the planned residential site, which would sit about where the church is now. The church plans to build underground parking to accommodate both churchgoers and residents.

Most of the original St. Thomas’ Parish Episcopal Church at 1772 Church Street NW (map) burned down in an arson attack in 1970, and since then the church has tried — and repeatedly failed, mostly for financial reasons — to rebuild. The existing structure is the building’s former parish hall, and Ryan Winfield, chair of the church’s building committee, told the hundred-plus crowd gathered at the Chastleton that it was in a state of disrepair.

“The space is falling apart around us,” he said. “We are hemorrhaging money by maintaining it.”

Winfield also said that because the church’s sanctuary was on an upper floor without elevator access, casket funerals can’t be held in the church and baptisms are inaccessible to those unable to use the stairs.

But some of the residents weren’t convinced.

“You have what you need,” said one resident, who said he was there to witness most of the church’s destruction after he and his wife moved in back in 1970. “We don’t need more apartments. This community is saturated with people. You’re meeting your mission. Keep it up.”

“Amen!” came the response from several in the audience.

Residents accused the church, who many acknowledged as a previously “great” neighbor, of acting secretly to develop the redevelopment plan. But Nancy Lee Jose, the church’s rector, said the residents’ comments were extremely concerning and that the Episcopal Diocese, not the local church, was the ultimate decision-maker on the project.

“When we say that we didn’t know, it’s because we didn’t know,” she said.

Another member of the building committee said the church was sorry for its “radio silence” during the past year or so of planning in conjunction with architect MTFA, “but we honestly couldn’t move forward” without the final go-ahead from the diocese.

Other neighbors suggested the church was selling off the land for a paycheck, though Winfield and others said the money from the land sale may not entirely cover the cost of the new church.

“It’s not a make-money proposition,” one architect responded.

But it was the residential developer, Kevin Riegler, who took most of the heat.

“I don’t think there’s anything more we can say or you guys can say to make us feel worse about (the planning process thus far),” he said toward the end of the meeting. The church took CAS Riegler and Hickok Cole on about 11 days ago, though MTFA has been part of the planning process for much longer.

Though many of the residents’ blanket opposition to the plan couldn’t be more plain, some took a more nuanced view.

“I’m in the camp that says it’s your land and you can do what you want with it,” one said, while asking the developer to keep the community in the loop and be willing to shift things around if neighbors are concerned.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/neighbors_call_plan_to_redevelop_dupont_circle_church_an_unholy_alliance/8174

0 Comments — Be the First!

Join the discussion

UrbanTurf now requires registration in order to post comments. Register here, or login below if you are already registered.

Click here if you forgot your password.



DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Ballston
Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Clarendon
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Rosslyn
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
Shirlington
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
Huntington
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
Parkfairfax
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »

Maryland

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Annapolis
Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bethesda
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
Potomac
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
Wheaton
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Hyattsville
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Bloomingdale
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
Brightwood
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
Burleith
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
Crestwood
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
Georgetown
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
Kalorama
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
Palisades
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Petworth
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
Shaw
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Takoma
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Tenleytown
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

Brookland
New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
Deanwood
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Eckington
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
Langdon
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
NoMa
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Rosedale
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
Trinidad
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Woodridge
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Hillcrest
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »

Upcoming Seminars ▾