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Scottish Rite Temple on 16th Street NW Getting a Facelift

by Borderstan.com June 6, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

Advisory Neighborhood Committee (ANC) 2B/Dupont‘s committee on development endorsed two local projects at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, June 4. One of them is the first complete renovation of the 16th Street Scottish Rite Temple. In addition, the Zoning, Preservation, and Development (ZPD) Committee heard a presentation from the DC Office of Planning about how the proposed zoning rewrite will impact the area.

Green Lights for Scottish Rite Temple and 1451 S Street

"Temple"

Hartman-Cox Architects present to ANC 2B on Scottish Temple Renovation. (David McAuley).

The ZPD Committee will recommend the full ANC pass resolutions of support for two projects in 2B. One will be for the Scottish Rite Temple, 1733 16th Street NW, at the corner of S Street.

The 97-year-old building, known officially as “The House of the Temple,” is the headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction. This renovation, the first of this building, will improve handicapped access and use, repair and improve air conditioning and other vital systems, add an emergency generator and replace some of the windows. The scheduled start date is early 2014.

Representatives of Hartman-Cox Architects told the committee a few trees on the street will have to be replaced to allow the installation of the ramp for handicapped accessibility. The emergency generator and a cooling tower will be in a separate building, which fronts onto a public alley connecting 15th and 16th Streets. This building will also be renovated and the cooling tower will not be visible from the street.

Some of the green space that faces 15th Street at the rear of the property will have to be converted into a staging area for construction, but will return to green space when the project is completed.

Michael Beidler of Trout Design Studio presented in support of a proposed set-back expansion of 1451 S Street. The plan will add a third floor to the existing house. The addition would not be visible from S Street, Beidler said, although it will be visible from the rear alley. Beilder said one of the abutting neighbors had been contacted already. Commissioner Noah Smith (district 09) said he would visit the other abutting neighbor.

The resolution presented to the full ANC will also say the new construction has minimal impact on light and air quality, and the construction is in line with the character of the street.

If passed, the resolutions will be presented to DC’s Historical Preservation Review Board (HPRB) when the petitioners have a hearing.

Yellow Light: 2112 R Street

Fowlkes Studio appeared before the committee requesting endorsement of their request for zoning relief for proposed construction at the rear of 2112 R Street NW, near the corner of Florida Avenue and across the street from Restaurant Nora. The wooden structure currently in the rear of the house is unsafe to walk on.

The replacement structure would push the rear of the house an additional six feet toward the narrow rear alley and add 54 square feet to the interior of the house. It will also add a four-story-tall spiral staircase on the rear corner of the project, which will lead to an existing roof deck. A representative of Fowlkes Studio said new structure will not be visible from either R Street or Florida Avenue, and some neighbors had been consulted.

The committee declined to recommend the addition for zoning relief, due to the lack of input from neighbors and the ANC. The committee also encouraged Fowlkes Studio to return with some computer-generated images of what the completed project might look like, and said the structure would likely require consultation with both the HPRB and the Dupont Circle Conservancy as well.

DC Office of Planning on Zoning Rewrite

Joel Lawson, associate director of the DC Office of Planning, talked about the planned complete rewrite of the city’s zoning regulations. The changes that will be felt in ANC 2B include:

  • expansion of the downtown overlay district to include all of ANC 2B south of M Street,
  • elimination of car parking space requirements on virtually all new construction,
  • expansion of bike parking requirements on virtually all new construction,
  • requiring car share spaces in new parking facilities.

Other changes will have a smaller anticipated effect in ANC 2B. A proposed regulation that would facilitate the development of “granny flats” would not change the zoning regulations for most homeowners in the area. Another regulation encouraging the opening of corner stores was found to apply to only one intersection in the area – Swann and 15th Streets. Commissioner Noah Smith said he knew the intersection well, as it is in his district. He doubted any of the corner lots at this intersection would be likely to host a store.

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