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The Most Creative Responses to PUD Appeals

by Nena Perry-Brown

UrbanTurf usually avoids publishing rankings or lists…except at the end of the year, when we look back at what DC’s residential real estate scene had to offer during the previous 12 months. This week, we revisit some of the best, most intriguing and peculiar things we came across over the course of 2018. Enjoy.


Aerial rendering of appealed Poplar Point PUD.

In recent years, a series of appeals of planned-unit developments (PUDs) have halted construction of hundreds of residential units in DC. Appeals have compelled the mayor and the DC Council to consider how to amend the Comprehensive Plan to render appeals less effective. Some development teams, however, have gotten a little more creative. 

This year, developers have increasingly turned to map amendments to circumvent the appeals process. While PUDs offer developers a route to build larger, denser projects than zoning allows, a map amendment would rezone a specific site to change the standards for what is allowable by-right. Although PUDs offer a developer more flexibility and are often done in conjunction with a map amendment, rezoning alone can still expand the possibilities of what can be built on a site without as much of the community engagement or opportunities for opposition associated with PUDs.

In October, two separate development teams with approved PUDs pending in the Court of Appeals got creative to move their projects forward.

The first involves a six-acre development in Poplar Point, approved in April and appealed in June. Previously slated for a five-building project with nearly 700 apartments, the stretch straddling Howard Road SE now includes an additional building and will likely support just as much, if not more, development by-right if the rezoning to NHR ("Northern Howard Road") is approved. Interestingly, the NHR zone is one the Office of Planning proposed just five days before the map amendment application was filed. 

Shortly thereafter, the development team behind the long-delayed PUD to redevelop the Rhode Island Avenue Shopping Center requested that PUD be extinguished. While the multi-phase, 13-acre project has been tied up in appellate court since January 2017, the development team instead got the project approved as matter-of-right via a large-tract review, enabling them to proceed with construction of nine buildings with over 1,500 apartments and 272,000 square feet of commercial space.

Even the development-opposed are getting in on the map amendment action. Two months before the aforementioned developer-led rezoning applications, a group of concerned citizens eschewed the appeal route and instead applied for a map amendment to down-zone a site and prevent a previously-approved PUD at the Meridian International Center from moving forward.

While Comprehensive Plan amendments are expected to come up for consideration again next spring and the Court of Appeals has put a few projects back on track this past year, it will be interesting to see whether more development teams go the rezone-and-by-right route in the years to come.

UrbanTurf's 2018 in Review Articles: 

See other articles related to: best of 2018

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the-most-creative-response-to-pud-appeals-map-amendments/14815

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