From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.
“This is not a good neighbor,” said one attendee at the presentation about the expansion of the Morrison-Clark Historic Inn on Tuesday, April 30.
This summed up the feeling of many from the surrounding condos and apartment buildings who showed up to hear the presentation by representatives of Forester Construction, Architecture Inc., and Morrison-Clark management.
The meeting took place in a well-appointed dining room of the hotel, which is located at 11th and L Streets NW near the corner of Massachusetts Avenue. About 40 people attended.
The hosts served punch and fresh-baked cookies, but it did little to mollify the disgruntled neighbors. Specific complaints included failure to adequately communicate with neighbors about the nature of the expansion, lack of a specific point of contact to address complaints, and difficulties accessing information which was supposed to be publicly available.
Expansion Will Double Size
The expansion will double the size of the Morrison-Clark. It will add 54 additional guest rooms while keeping the facades of the buildings untouched. The new structure will have six floors of guest rooms with an additional floor “mechanical penthouse” to house heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and other equipment.
The result: apartments in neighboring buildings that now have a view from windows and balconies will soon face a brick wall only yards away. Neighbors claimed the plans which were presented to city planning authorities did not show the abutting buildings and were therefore misleading.
Local residents expressed concern about the safety of their own buildings during the Morrison-Clark renovation. Within the last two weeks, the roof of a historic carriage house next door that the renovation was supposed to preserve collapsed.
“This doesn’t inspire confidence,” a neighbor said.
Presenters called the roof collapse an “unfortunate accident” which was due to mistakes in construction made long before the renovation was even planned.
“The carriage house shouldn’t have been standing,” a presenter said.
The presenters agreed to establish a single point of contact for neighbors who have questions, problems or concerns about the construction after repeated requests. The presenters at first did not make a firm commitment, saying on-site personnel during business hours would be sufficient.
Neighbors disagreed. After repeated requests to establish an email address where neighbors can direct their concerns, the presenters finally consented, but did not agree to the establishment of a listserv or an online bulletin board, both of which were suggested by neighbors.
Repeated requests by one neighbor for access to the architectural plans for the construction were turned aside by noting that the documents were available at DC government offices. It did not seem to occur to the presenters that some neighbors might have daytime jobs which they would be reluctant to take time off from. Furthermore, a neighbor said she had been to the relevant office and no such architectural plans were on file. One of the presenters said he would look into putting the plans online.
The current timeline for the Morrison-Clark expansion is two more months of demolition and excavation on the site. The frame for the new structure should be in place by autumn 2013. The planned completion date is early summer 2014.
Also attending the Morrison-Clark presentation was Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) Greg Melcher, 2F-06, as well as Jim Laukes and Howard Marks from ANC 2F’s Community Development Committee.