by Tim Regan August 22, 2016 at 12:05 pm 4 Comments

Longtime opponents of a plan to redevelop St. Thomas’ Parish (1772 Church St. NW) have ultimately been “unpersuasive,” The District’s Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) said last week.

In an order published Friday, the panel granted developer CAS Riegler a zoning variance it initially requested roughly one year ago and elaborated on its decision against the parish’s redevelopment foes.

Some neighbors have opposed the plan to turn the St. Thomas Church site into a religious center and apartment complex on the grounds that the new building would be too tall, would deprive locals of public space and would be incompatible with the surrounding historic neighborhood.

However, the plan’s opponents have seemingly failed to win D.C.’s governing bodies to their side. The Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) last July voted to approve the project. Similarly, the BZA voted to give its blessing to the plan earlier this year in January.

The BZA wrote in its order that it found the “argument made by the parties in opposition to be unpersuasive.”

The board continues:

Much of the opposition was related to the loss of the park that the community has enjoyed. However, the park is actually the private property of the church, and the community does not have a right to use that space. Furthermore, both the CSN and the DCCA expressed concerns regarding the application’s compatibility with the historic district. However, the Board notes that in granting concept approval, the HPRB was required to find that such compatibility existed. And while the Board is not compelled to accept the HPRB conclusion, the evidence in the record clearly corroborates its finding.

In other words — at least in regard to grievances over lost green space — it’s private property, and the church can do with it as it pleases.

As Dupont ANC 2B chair Nicole Mann pointed out on Twitter, the BZA’s latest opinion may not bode well for opponents of developer PN Hoffman’s plan to build a seven-story mixed-used building at SunTrust plaza in Adams Morgan.

Foes of that plan have said the building would deprive locals of a community space. In response, developer PN Hoffman has said the plaza is private property.

Sound familiar?

h/t ANC 2B’s Nicole Mann for sharing the order with us

by Tim Regan January 13, 2016 at 12:30 pm 7 Comments

The contentious plan to redevelop St. Thomas’ Parish (1772 Church St. NW) has moved one step closer to fruition.

D.C.’s Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) voted unanimously to approve developer CAS Riegler’s request for a zoning variance during its meeting yesterday. The developer sought permission to construct its planned seven-story building on 86.7 percent of the lot as opposed to the usual maximum limit of 80 percent. (more…)

by Tim Regan October 14, 2015 at 12:10 pm 0

2B Special Election

Some Dupont Circle residents will have the chance to elect a new ANC commissioner tonight.

ANC 2B will tally votes tonight during a special election for former commissioner Justine Underhill’s 2B-07 seat, which was vacated in August when Underhill moved to New York City. Voting takes place between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. during tonight’s ANC 2B meeting at the Brookings Institution (1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW) near Dupont Circle.

Dupont residents Holly Biglow and John Kupcinski have entered into the race for the 2B-07 seat. In previous interviews with Borderstan, both candidates have said weighing in on the planned St. Thomas Church development is at the top of their agenda if elected.

“First and foremost, … I’d like to try to [figure out] how the construction is going to happen [at the St. Thomas’ Parish], how the operations will work, how the pre-construction, construction will work,” said Kupcinski. “Just make sure there aren’t any misunderstandings. It’s going to be one of the biggest developments happening in 2B-07.”

“I know the St. Thomas Church project is a very large project,” Biglow told us. “It’s very important to the community, so that will be the number one issue that will have to be addressed.”

According to ANC 2B chair Noah Smith, 2B-09, ballots will be available in the back of the ANC meeting room. D.C. Director of the Office of ANCs, Gottlieb Simon, will check in voters as they arrive. Locals do not need to stay for the entire meeting to cast a vote, added Smith.

by Tim Regan October 5, 2015 at 1:15 pm 1 Comment

St. Thoms Church renderings, photo via Circle residents will have another opportunity to discuss the planned St. Thomas Church development.

Locals can speak their mind at an upcoming public input meeting in the west wing room of the Embassy Row Hotel (2015 Massachusetts Ave. NW) this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. During the meeting, attendees will be able to discuss concerns and items for future consideration with the ANC’s zoning, preservation and development committee members in small groups.

As it stands, the project calls for the construction of a new church and a seven-story housing building. Though neighbors and developers have clashed over the proposed height of the development — among other things — the Historic Preservation Review Board voted to approve the project voted 4 to 1 to approve the project in July. Last month, Washington Business Journal reported that the project “advanced to a critical review stage” when the developer applied to obtain a single zoning variance for the project.

Photo via

by Tim Regan September 10, 2015 at 10:30 am 0

Dupont Circle’s ANC 2B is getting ready for a special election.

Residents Holly Biglow and John Kupcinski have entered into a race for former commissioner Justine Underhill’s 2B-07 seat, which was vacated last month when Underhill moved to New York City.

The two candidates introduced themselves and touched upon community issues during “stump speeches” at last night’s ANC 2B meeting at the Brookings Institution (1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW) near Dupont Circle.

Holly Biglow, who said she’s lived in P Street NW for six years, touched upon the hotly debated issue of the St. Thomas Church development project.

“I am aware of the St. Thomas Church development project, which I know has been a major issue. I’m also aware that a neighborhood group has developed work on some of the issues they have regarding this project,” Biglow said. “I definitely commend them on all the work that they’ve done and all the things that they’ve accomplished.”

“I really look forward to working with the group if possible to continue to address the neighbor’s needs,” she added.

“This neighborhood has various issues that need to be addressed,” Biglow concluded. “I’m a very open-minded person. I really look forward to working on a vast number of issues that ANC 2B-07 and the rest of the ANC will be working on.”

Kupcinski, who owns a consulting firm in the area, then stepped in front of the microphone to introduce himself.

“I’ve been involved in the community ever since I purchased [my home] about a year and a half ago,” said Kupcinski. “I got involved in the Church Street neighbors. I got to meet lots of our wonderful neighbors and our ANC.”

“I’ve been to a lot of ANC meetings,” he added. “I’m excited about Dupont, both what it was and what it’s growing into be. I think that we’re at a very interesting point in terms of the changing dynamics and shifts as other parts of the city continue to develop.”

“Regardless of the outcome of the election, I’m still going to be involved,” he said. “You’ll still see my face on a monthly basis. You’ll still see me walking my dog around the neighborhood.”

Newly revived ANC blog Short Articles About Long Meetings recorded both speeches and uploaded them to Youtube earlier this morning.

Residents of the 2B-07 single member district can cast their ballots next month at the Brookings Institution on Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Click here for more information regarding voter eligibility and the voting process.


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