ANC Votes to Support Three Southwest Buildings for Historic Designation

by Lark Turner

ANC 6D, which covers the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood, supported the applications of three buildings seeking historic designation — and attendant protections — on Monday night. One of the three receiving support? The forthcoming Museum of the Bible building.

Here’s a rundown of each building that won over the ANC on Monday. Up next: each one will seek approval


300 D Street SW

The future home of the Museum of the Bible received enthusiastic support from the ANC — and earned plenty of head-nods from the sometimes-fierce neighbors in attendance at the meeting. The museum will feature the Green Collection, a large number of ancient Biblical artifacts owned by the founders of the Hobby Lobby retail chain, and will be constructed at the former site of the Washington Design Center. The building sold for $50 million last year. Despite the Hobby Lobby chain’s connections to political and evangelical Christian movements, the museum has said it will be non-sectarian and not affiliated with any political agenda.

The building, constructed in 1923, was formerly the Terminal Refrigeration and Warehouse Company, also know as the District’s “ice box”. The Historic Preservation Review Board has already expressed support for the planned design of the building.


301 G Street SW

Capitol Park Tower residents became concerned last year when rumors that the building had gone up for sale started circulating, and the tenants association reached out to the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly for help in advocating for a historic designation. The building was built relatively recently, in 1962, but was one of the first developments to offer integrated housing. Capitol Park Tower, which has since been sold, offers green space that residents fear may be developed, and the historic designation includes mentions of the building’s landscaping. Commissioners cautioned that a historic designation wouldn’t stop the open space from being developed.

“Designation wouldn’t preclude the developer from developing on this site,” one commissioner said. “It would just provide another level of review.”

Photo courtesy William Rich, Southwest Quadrant

820 South Capitol Street SW

The Randall Recreation Center, which has received unsolicited proposals from developers and has been eyed by a charter school for redevelopment, dates back to 1912 and would probably be the only former animal pound in the country to get historic status, said researcher Hayden Wetzel, who’s meticulously documented the building’s history. When the building was first constructed, Wetzel said, it was in a southwest neighborhood that The Washington Post called “not much” in an article on the animal control center.

“If you could see the location you would see that it is entirely suitable for a pound and not fit for any other purpose,” one historic document read.

Apparently some developers think it’s fit for other purposes now — hence the scramble to get the site designated.

“It truly is an important piece of the community. It’s one of the few surviving structures from urban renewal of the last century, has been a rec center for decades, and with that we’d ask for the ANC’s support,” an advocate for the designation said.

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This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/southwest_waterfront_anc_votes_to_support_three_buildings_bids_for_historic/8594

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