With the Hine development on the agenda, I wasn’t surprised to see a full house at last night’s ANC 6B meeting. Around 50 residents were in attendance, many of whom lived near the Hine Jr. High School site. Here is my brief recap:
- The commission voted 6-4 to support the Hine project and approve a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Stanton-Eastbanc, the site’s developers. I voted to support the agreement because it represents a good balance between the interests of nearby neighbors and the interests of Capitol Hill as a whole. The community benefits package – essentially what the community receives in exchange for allowing a nonconforming use in a zoned area – includes:
- a commitment from the developers to seek daycare for the site
- an agreement to keep restaurants on the west end of the development
- $75K for a playground, ideally in the northeastern section of the Eastern Market Metro plaza
- a commitment from the developers to lease 20 percent of the retail space to local retailers, and
- and a commitment to seek to locate at least 20 percent of office space for community-oriented nonprofits.
These benefits are on top of the benefits of the project itself, which include additional affordable housing and more office and retail space on Capitol Hill.
The only “benefit” in the agreement I did not support was the reduction in height of the 7th and Pennsylvania office building, which translates into a big loss of office space and a loss of customers for Eastern Market and the retail corridor. However, given that height was a significant concern of the nearby neighbors and the reality that, even with the height reduction, the benefits of the project and the agreement significantly outweigh the costs, I did not hesitate to vote in favor.
I certainly understand and respect the views of nearby neighbors, but asking for additional dramatic reductions in the height and size of the building is not in the best interests of the city, Eastern Market area retailers nor Capitol Hill. I feel strongly that the Hine project will provide significant benefits to the neighborhood and is appropriate in height and size for its location next to the Eastern Market Metro. The Zoning Commission will begin the Planned Unit Development (PUD) hearing (pdf) for Hine on Thursday (June 14) evening.
- I was disappointed that the owner of Yes! Organic Market, which is moving to 410 8th Street SE, was unwilling to sign ANC 6B’s standard voluntary agreement. Yes! is seeking a Class B Retailer’s license, and the owner claimed that somehow he would be lowering the store’s high standards by signing the ANC’s voluntary agreement. Huh? I was totally confused, particularly since the owner claimed that he already abides by the prohibitions in the voluntary agreement. While Yes! is certainly a valued business on Capitol Hill, I feel strongly that the commission needs to treat all businesses equally. I joined 6 other commissioners in protesting the license, though I’m hopeful that the owner will eventually sign the voluntary agreement. The vote was 7-1-2 in favor of the protest.
- The commission also voted unanimously to protest a request by Bachelor’s Mill bar at 1104 8th Street SE to extend its closing hours to 4 am Sunday through Thursday and 5 am Friday and Saturday. The owner of the establishment did not show up to the meeting, but at last week’s ANC 6B ABC Committee meeting, the establishment’s manager tried to argue that having a “soft closing” would help reduce the disorder and police calls generated when the bar closes each night. Given that the bar has had 11 calls to MPD just since April this year, including an assault on a police officer, the commission felt that extending the establishment’s hours was inappropriate until Bachelor’s Mill can learn to appropriately manage its customers during its current hours.
- The commission unanimously approved a new liquor license for Beuchert’s Saloon, a new restaurant at 623 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, and a single sales exemption for World Liquors at 1453 Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Both Beuchert’s and World Liquors signed voluntary agreements. The owner of World Liquors plans to use the exemption to sell small, high-end craft beers – his store has no plans to sell traditional “singles.”
- Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04), chair of ANC 6B’s Transportation Committee, reported on the frustrating June 6 meeting with DDOT at Payne Elementary School. I’ve since learned that DDOT plans to hold a public charrette to get community feedback on 17th and 19th Streets during the week of June 25. I’ll post the date, time and location once it is confirmed. Commissioner Francis Campbell (6B10) has also been in communication with DDOT.
- During the Hill East Task Force report, I shared my thoughts on the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development’s response to the commission’s May 15 Reservation 13 resolution.
- The commission unanimously voted to approve the hiring of a new executive director. Once candidates who have been interviewed are notified, the commission will announce the name of the new executive director.