45-Unit Residential Project Planned For Capitol Hill Auto Shop Moves Forward

by UrbanTurf Staff

45-Unit Residential Project Planned For Capitol Hill Auto Shop Moves Forward: Figure 1

The developer behind the plan to redevelop industrial buildings near Watkins Elementary School on Capitol Hill into a 45-unit residential project filed its planned unit development (PUD) with the Zoning Commission on Thursday. The proposed buildings at and around 1311 E Street SE (map) would include roughly 30,000 square feet to be constructed on what’s now an auto repair shop and a warehouse.

45-Unit Residential Project Planned For Capitol Hill Auto Shop Moves Forward: Figure 2

Sean Ruppert, the principal of developer OPaL LLC, gave the local ANC an informational presentation on the project in January. Gregory Sparhawk of gps designs is the project architect.

The project, called Watkins Alley, would consist of 30 three-bedroom townhomes, eight flats and six lofts, with much of the homes’ activity centered around an alley. In January, Ruppert said he is targeting empty nesters and families in the homes, the most expensive of which would sell for around $1.3 million.

45-Unit Residential Project Planned For Capitol Hill Auto Shop Moves Forward: Figure 3

Per the PUD, the project will have “one level of underground parking with 45 spaces below the south block of townhouses.” There will also be parking for 48 bicycles.

The development team is looking for a rezoning of the property from industrial to residential use, an increase in the allowed lot occupancy (given the size of the planned homes), and the ability to change the location of the parking area, among other changes.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/45-unit_residential_project_planned_for_capitol_hill_auto_shop_moves_forwar/9969

1 Comment

  1. skidrowedc@gmail.com said at 6:24 pm on Friday June 5, 2015:
    Given that, as shown, this project is certainly 'smart growth' and would be an improvement over the current condition, is it churlish to complain that the exterior design is so lame? This is the first I've heard of gps designs, the apparently-uncapitalized architectural design firm. A review of their website shows mostly suburban work, stylistically a mix of half-hearted contemporary and sloppy historicism. Which seems to be what's proposed for Capitol Hill -- a variety of facades, none very convincing and with a pointless randomness of location, attempting (but spectacularly failing) to conceal the underlying banality of the boxy construction. Part of it is the horrible renderings. If the built reality is more like the architect's Lombard Court project in Baltimore, it won't be so bad -- although even there, it's evident that gps designs doesn't understand how to do a mansard correctly, or (at an elemental level of design competence) how façade elements turn a corner. Also, at Lombard Court, the simple-but-competent historicist treatment of the lower floors mostly works because of grade changes: the townhouses are in groups of 2 or 3 stepping up the hill, injecting interest and a little dynamism. At the Capitol Hill site, in contrast, the flatness appears deadly: just stripes of dumb windows. Moreover, the mansard (which apparently the architect loves, given how often it appears on their website) isn't a common Capitol Hill design move -- it mostly exists in 1970s and 1980s rowhouses, not the actual older buildings. This is another facet of sloppy historicism: not bothering to look closely at the actual historic context. Doing sloppy historicism in the suburbs is one thing. Who cares?--you don't live in the suburbs if architectural history is a central interest. But in Capitol Hill, there are actual historic buildings in the immediate vicinity to compare against. Mistakes are obvious. Developer OPaL, take note. You should really consider having a different architect take a stab at the exterior design.

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