DC Height of Buildings Act Might Have First Alteration Since 1910

by Borderstan.com July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,950 0

From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.


Building height restrictions in DC could change. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Last week the Congressional Committee with oversight over the District’s affairs began considering a measure that would allow DC buildings to exceed their current height limit.

If it came to be, the change would be the first alteration of the federal Height of Buildings Act, which has limited the city’s vertical – and many say economic – growth since 1910.

As Wikipedia notes, “The original act restricted the heights of any type of building in the United States capital city of Washington, D.C., to be no higher than 110 feet (90 feet for residential buildings). In 1910, the 61st United States Congress enacted a new law limiting building heights to the width of the right-of-way of the street or avenue on which a building fronts, which is the main law presented by this act.”

Committee members were quick to reassure District officials and concerned residents that the change would not allow skyscrapers and condos to overshadow the monuments. If enacted, the bill would allow DC buildings to turn roof space into occupied space, essentially adding one story to much of the city skyline.

City officials say the District suffers a disadvantage because the federal government owns approximately 40 percent of its land, rendering it non-taxable. This additional real estate would provide a new source of tax revenue to counteract this disadvantage.

While many people think The Cairo residential building on the 1600 block of Q Street NW is the city’s tallest building (other than the Washington Monument), that honor actually belongs to The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, according to Wikipedia.

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