So last week I saw the good news from Scott Roberts that the ANC 5E voted to oppose the raze permit application for 319 R St NW.
Since I’m not a house historian I’ll quickly mention 319 R and most of the houses on that block are Wardmans built around 1902-1903, by developer Harry Wardman and his architect Nicholas R. Grimm. My interest is that it at one point housed members the Glorius family, who had owned the whole block and lived there in the late 19th Century. So the house is special in that way. It is also special because it is a corner house.
From what I can remember from the October 2016 BACA meeting the developers wanted to get rid of the turret on this building, among other things. The other things, like placing the entrance on the 4th St side, thus changing windows and doors, and putting on an extra floor, I actually have no problem with that. It’s getting rid of the turret that I have a problem with. Development has been done before, on this very block, a floor added and a turret kept.
Back in 2009, I and resident of the 1700 blk of 4th St, John, fought to preserve a look for that block as the owner wanted to add a 3rd floor and obliterate the roof (with the turret) and replace it with something pitched and very suburban looking. I’ll admit the turret wasn’t the focus, preventing an ugly az popup was, as this was the time of horrible pop ups, popping up in the neighborhood.
The shorter building to the left is the dry cleaners, and to the right that gap between the buildings is now gone and something plain and brick resides there now.
I never had images of what the owner had suggested to the BZA. But imagine an extra floor and a “decorative” upside down ‘V’ of a roof, like you’d see in suburban Maryland on top. It was ugly.
The owner had to go to BZA because this property was well over 62% of its lot occupancy. Unfortunately Jim Berry was no longer our ANC because he had moved/retired, and our ANC at the time (now city councilperson) was too trusting of the system so this fight was hard. Berry was there with neighbors at BZA hearing with the development on Richardson Place NW. The ANC then, not so much, and there were fewer neighbors up in arms to fight the owner’s ugly proposal.
Long story short, we prevailed and it was win-win. The owner got more square footage and an extra floor. We got something that looked good and was not an ugly as F* popup. Yes, the turret is absorbed into the house, but it isn’t too out of place.
I believe that there can be a win-win with this developer. They can get an extra floor and new entrances (I dunno about parking, that’s another ball of wax) without destroying the turret. That block will probably see more development in the future and we’ve set a path for how that can look, I just hope the new people follow.
Postscript- Yes, I know of this thing called historic districts. I oppose that for my own neighborhood. With historic districts we wouldn’t get such interesting houses like the Darth Vader house that just sold for a million dollars, or the interesting Ditto condos. Yes, we wouldn’t get the monstrosities on P Street, but there is enough good to outweigh the bad, you just have to be vigilant.