Adams Morgan Redevelopment Plans Leave a Bad Taste in Neighbors’ Mouths

by Nena Perry-Brown

A street view of 1815 Columbia Road NW.

Last night, the ANC 1C planning committee intended to vote on the proposed development for 1815 Columbia Road NW (map).

However, the discussion ultimately raised far more questions about both the proposed development and the developer’s approach.

Building owner Lisa Drazin & Woodmont Asset Management, Inc. did not attend the ANC committee meeting, while several nearby residents and business owners were present to express their disdain and bewilderment with how the redevelopment process has unfolded thus far.

An early set of plans and massing furnished in May of 2015 suggest the construction of a seven-story mixed-use building with a roof deck and 12’ cellar. The cellar and ground floors will be commercial space while the upper floors are likely to contain 10-16 residential units. There also appears to be a build-out from the second floor upward which will protrude over the sidewalk.

May 2015 massing of the proposed development.

To the understanding of those in attendance, Drazin has already secured a demolition permit, although it may not be tenable. A fence topped with barbed wire has long surrounded the site, making it difficult for passersby to tell what is being done there. The owners of the neighboring restaurants Mintwood Place and Cashion’s Eat Place reported hearing drilling which seemed to be a basement excavation extending beneath their sites. Neighbors behind the property have seen activity which suggests the intention to construct some sort of back porches, balconies or a fire escape. Many in attendance spoke wistfully about the days when Sidney Drazin, Lisa’s father and a well-liked neighborhood fixture, owned a liquor store on the site before his 2005 passing. Another attendee distributed a flyer in opposition to current zoning regulation reform efforts, highlighting their detrimental impact on historic districts. Drazin has largely been unresponsive to community members’ attempts to reach her.

The ANC commissioners seemed taken aback by Drazin’s absence and lack of engagement, with Commissioner Wilson Reynolds noting that “this is highly disturbing”, especially because although Drazin is “not a shrinking violet”, they have worked with her successfully in the past. Commissioner Ted Guthrie added that when he reached out to Drazin to inform her that this issue was on that night’s agenda, she accused him of harassment and is unlikely to participate in the ANC process.

The committee voted to have Commissioner Alan Gambrell prepare a substantial document detailing the experiences with and opposition to the development to this point, and the full ANC will vote on that resolution at their February 2nd meeting.

The former FootAction space has a C2B zoning designation and a 2,315 square foot lot size. Located in the Kalorama Triangle Historic District, the building was originally constructed in 1930 and has been listed with the National Register of Historic Places.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/adams_morgan_redevelopment_plans_leave_a_bad_taste_in_neighbors_mouths/10784

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