Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B holds its monthly meeting tonight, February 2, and the planned development on Florida Avenue NW between 7th and 9t Streets NW will be at the center of the agenda. The plans for consideration come from JBG, the influential development group with “more control over the future of U Street than any other property holder,” according to The Washington Post.
JBG has already presented its residential/retail concept to the various ANC design committees, and now the firm seeks ANC approval on issues before the Historic Preservation Board. These issues will most likely have to do with the fates of historic facades currently on the properties.
The design, covering two buildings on three parcels, comes from the Seattle firm Miller Hull Architects. JBG principal Kai Reynolds told Washington City Paper that their aesthetic will be aimed at “transforming the warehouse vernacular into housing.” In short this means lots of metal, lots of glass and perhaps an affinity for exposed staircases. (Slides from the ANC1B design committee presentation in December are available here.)
JBG bought the three parcels from Metro last summer after they had been on the market for nearly a decade. Though the lots appear vacant, they are home to a lively and at times controversial weekend flea market. (Some neighbors have complained of vendors selling stolen goods.) Michael Sussman, who runs the flea market, had a lease with Metro due to run to October 2012. When JBG purchased the property, the company made overtures to end the lease early, by the end of January.
At the last ANC 1B meeting on January 5 (which I attended), approximately 25 vendors showed up to protest the end of the lease. Sussman told the commissioners that 40 vendors and their families earn a living at the flea market, and requested that the ANC ask JBG to continue the lease.
In an email message to several neighborhood groups sent on January 13, ANC 1B Chair Myla Moss (ANC 1B-01) said that an agreement had been reached between JBG and Sussman. JBG will continue offering a month-to-month lease until October, as long as the flea market accepts a list of terms meant to eliminate traffic, trash and the sale of stolen goods.
It will be interesting to see if this issue arises again at Thursday’s meeting. I will be there and will post an update on any developments.