Developers’ New Plan for Historic Site Near Meridian Hill Park Irks ANC

by Andrew Ramonas November 3, 2016 at 3:55 pm 5 Comments

Rendering of residential building proposed for Meridian International Center property (Image via ANC 1C/Perkins Eastman)

(Updated at 5 p.m.) Community leaders in Adams Morgan have shot down a development team’s revised proposal to bring a nine-story residential building to a historic property just west of Meridian Hill Park.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C last night voted 6-1, with one abstention, to urge the District’s Historic Preservation Review Board to oppose a plan to redevelop the Meridian International Center grounds on 16th Street NW between Belmont Street and Crescent Place NW. The site includes the Meridian and White-Meyer houses, which were built between 1912 and 1919.

Designed by Jefferson Memorial architect John Russell Pope, the mansions won’t disappear under the proposal by Streetscape Partners and Westbrook Partners. Rather, a 110-unit residential complex would take over a parking area and other open land on the property.

The development team presented the plan at an ANC 1C meeting yesterday after more than a year working on alterations to a previous proposal that failed to win the commission’s approval and drew concerns from HPRB and locals over its size, among other issues.

Despite decreasing the complex’s mass and density by what a representative of the developers said was 20 percent, locals said at the meeting and in a petition with more than 2oo supporters that it was still too big.

“Its skin is better. I’ll certainly give you that,” said ANC 1C chairman Ted Guthrie, who voted in opposition to the project. “But the fact that the skin is better does not work when it’s a size 16 in a size 2 pair of jeans that you’re trying to squeeze in.”

Jon Cummings, a director at Westbrook Partners, declined to comment after the vote. But representatives of the development team indicated during the meeting that they plan to make some tweaks to their plan.

ANC 1C commissioners Alan Gambrell, who voted against ANC’s 1C decision to fight the proposal, and Billy Simpson, who abstained from voting, said the developers have made progress in addressing concerns that prevented the project from moving forward last year.

“It has become clearer and clearer to me that the fundamental objections of most of the people who have contacted me aren’t grounded in a historic preservation aspect, but have more to do with just not wanting your part of the neighborhood to change,” Simpson said.

The project now is set to go before HPRB, which might consider it before the end of the year. The board must sign off on the proposal before construction can begin.

Image via ANC 1C/Perkins Eastman


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