More on the Richardson Place Dev

Read today’s Truxton Circle daily dispatch! There is a meeting tonight at Mt. Sinai at 7 regarding Mr. Mondie’s development on Richardson Place. John added a few more concerns, sadly he won’t be able to make the meeting.
I share John’s concerns. Mondie’s plan looks like a poor one and needs to go back to the drawing board.

Another thing, semi-related. I’d love to see a DC architecture blog covering residential and commercial architecture of buildings in the District and how they relate to surrounding buildings and why some buildings are so ugly make you wanna slap the builder. The problem with the Mondie proposal is that the buildings have the wrong look for the area but the community lacks the vocabulary for expressing why such and such is ugly or wrong. We need real pictures of buildings not computer line drawings. Anyway, if there is a blog like that out there, tell me about it.

Well the meeting was held and Mondie claimed to Jim (not Berry) that he didn’t know anything about the meeting. Jim Berry had spoken to Mondie’s lawyer who was aware but could not make the meeting. Is it my faulty memory or didn’t these two ask for meeting between the BACA meeting and the ANC meeting?
I had created a lovely Power Point presentation for Mr. Mondie. I am saddened that he did not show. It’s not that anyone is against something going on the land on Richardson, it’s just that what Mondie is proposing is horrid. My little PP thing was a suggestion of something less horrid. But he wasn’t there. Yet, I did learn something valuable, while gathering pictures for the PP I discovered if you ride around like a crazy woman on a bike randomly taking pictures and then biking off and taking more pictures, you freak out the drug dealers. You can also freak out the drug dealers by running full force down the sidewalk in loud clompy heels. Anyway, I digress.
A point was made that at the BACA meeting Mondie failed to state why his proposal is so unique that he needs a zoning variance. He did not state why he cannot work within the rules that currently exist. He could build 2 18-20ft wide 3 level houses. Yet he wanted three 14 ft wide houses. C. informed us that in 1958 the city changed the rules regarding housing width because of the problem of overcrowding. If Mondie is allowed to build as he wishes, which no one is sure of what his wishes are since he doesn’t seem to be sure about what the heck he wants, he undermines what the District is trying to prevent, density that is more than what the space can bear.
Even if Mondie is able to one of the two three things he was proposing to do he’s going to loose money. After a few of us skipped out as the meeting turned to the matters of group houses, those closer to the action floated numbers that Mondie is going to pay for the land (it is unclear if he actually owns the land) and the amount is way too much. Couple that will all the potential problems of interest rates going up, which will slow down the Real Estate boom, and the fact that this is still a transitional area makes hints that he’s not going to get the kind of money he may be aiming for. When the market slows down, condos are the first to suffer. Also I read somewhere that a way to keep gentrification at bay was bad or poor design. Mondie’s proposal is a lovely example of bad design and will live itself out as affordable housing because people with choices will not pick the ugly poorly designed cramped house.

3 thoughts on “More on the Richardson Place Dev”

  1. Mari– I think a blog like that would be excellent. Unfortunately, I am in no way qualified to author such a blog.

    William McDonough ( has described the importance of design as, “Design is the first signal of human intent.” While he is usually focused on architecture, Mr McDonough has written, consulted and spoken about the importance of design in everything we interact with– clothes, furniture, cars, consumables, etc.

    I think that considering what we intend the neighborhood to become will help guide us in determining how it should be designed– from specific buildings to retail establishments to socio-economic diversity and so forth.


  2. I completely agree. Bad Design = bad neighborhood for long long time. The practical reason you give, which is that people with choices will not choose poorly designed living spaces, is a great way to put it. There is also a philosophical school of thought in that bad design has adverse psychological effects on the inhabitants and neighbors. That’s harder to argue, so it requires a little faith in Feng Shui.


  3. Regarding DC building design, the architects are not always at fault. The Office of Planning generally rejects designs that do not conform to “classic” DC rowhouse design. As a result we see really ugly stuff like the houses on Kentucky Ave and 13th Street SE. So, you do what you need to do to get approval.


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