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The Demolition Quandary For the 14th Street Car Barn

by Nena Perry-Brown

Car barn current conditions. Click to enlarge.

As WMATA attempts to move forward with plans to redevelop the former Decatur Street Car Barn along upper 14th Street, the demolition required for redevelopment is posing a hurdle.

This spring, WMATA filed a concept application that would partially demolish the landmarked Northern Bus Garage at 14th and Buchanan Streets NW (map) in order to deliver a new bus garage with up to 55,000 square feet of retail.

Historic Preservation Office (HPO) staff's position is that the requested level of demolition flouts the purpose of the landmark.

"The substantial demolition associated with the renovation project was inconsistent with the purposes of the DC Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act because it would destroy practically all remaining historic interior fabric, the original eastern wall, and the majority of the carbarn’s north and south elevations," an HPO report explains.

Previous rendering of proposed garage redevelopment. Click to enlarge.

Consequently, WMATA is seeking review from the Mayor's Agent for Historic Preservation for a raze application. HPO staff is recommending that the Historic Preservation Review Board defer to the Mayor's Agent to determine whether the proposed redevelopment is a project of "special merit" warranting the demolition.

At a May hearing, HPRB also found the concept design incompatible with the landmark; architecture firms Beyer Blinder Belle and Wendel are still working on a new design concept.

HPRB will hold a hearing on the project next week.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the-demolition-quandary-14th-street-car-barn/17304

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