15th & D Street SE Building Plans & Preliminary Design

View of D Street SE of preliminary design of proposed residential building. Design by R2L Architects.

Preliminary design of proposed residential building (view from D Street SE). Design by R2L Architects.

Around 20 residents attended a Jan.  24 community meeting organized by Commissioner Nichole Opkins (6B06) and me to learn about plans for a residential building at 401 15th Street SE, located at the corner of 15th & D Streets SE. Sheldon Jones and Michel Regignano of property owner Goodeon Kingston LLC presented their preliminary design plans for a 12-unit residential building on the site and answered questions from residents.

While attendees certainly disagreed on various aspects of the project, I felt the meeting was helpful and that Goodeon left with some constructive suggestions for the project. They are also open to hearing additional feedback from neighbors and the community in the future.

A brief recap of the highlights:

  • The building will include 12 residential units (likely condos) and will be five stories in height, the  height allowed under the site’s C-2-A zoning. Almost half of the units (5) will be one bedroom units, while the remaining units will be 2 or 3 bedrooms. As required by inclusionary zoning, there will be one affordable unit.
  • Goodeon Kingston does not plan to seek any zoning relief for the building, which means the ANC and Board of Zoning Adjustment will not have a chance to review the final plans and design.  
  • Goodeon decided against including retail on the first floor of the building, citing a lack of space and current market demand. The first floor units could potentially be used for office space, but Goodeon believes they will likely be residential units.
  • The building includes the required six parking spaces . Parking will take up about half of the first floor of the building and is one of the reasons why retail is no longer part of the plans. Vehicles will enter using the existing curb cut on 15th Street SE.  
  • Goodeon plans to raze the current one-story structure on the site in March. Construction on the new building would likely begin either late this year or in early 2014. John Reid Construction LLC will be the builder.
  • Representatives from R2L Architects presented the preliminary design of the building, sharing views looking south from D Street SE and north up 15th Street SE. Goodeon and the presenters made it clear that they were sharing preliminary plans not final plans and were eager to get feedback from the community. View the preliminary design (pdf).
  • Reaction to the building design ranged from outrage to acceptance. One resident said, “It’s not as ugly as I thought it would be.” Others said the building was too tall and was not in keeping with the character of the neighborhood. Some argued that changing the zoning along 15th Street SE  to R-4 would prevent such out of scale buildings. Others voiced disappointment with the lack of retail on the ground floor and the lack of connection between the building and the surrounding sidewalk.
  • While I agreed that the design could use some work, I did like that the architects stepped back the height from adjacent properties and provided some variation in the facing. The connection between the building and sidewalk could certainly be improved.
  • Mr. Jones said that his team would come out to the community for a follow-up meeting with updated plans. He thanked attendees for the feedback and suggestions, and Commissioner Opkins and I thanked him and his team for agreeing to meet with the community.

What do you think of the building plans? Do you like the design? Can you point to examples of new construction in Capitol Hill and Hill East that both meet the need for additional housing and “fit in?” Please post your comments below.

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12 Responses to 15th & D Street SE Building Plans & Preliminary Design

  1. Alex B. says:

    Reactions:

    The height looks fine to me. Frankly, I think this kind of development should be allowed by right in most parts of the city. The fact that this height will sit at the corner of the street is perfectly acceptable.

    Density: Great to see so many new units. More housing is a plus for the area. However, the obsession over a few feet of building height forces that first floor to be recessed below the grade of the sidewalk, likely preventing future conversion to retail and also creating a somewhat awkward residence. Given the constraints of the code, I think it’s a clever solution – but not exactly an endorsement of the contents of our zoning code.

    Design: I could nitpick some elements of the design, but I don’t know that nitpicking should be part of our public process. The city is growing in population, and the built environment needs to be allowed to respond in-kind.

    Parking: this is a great example of the ills of parking requirements. Here you have a building close to Metro and good bus service, forced by code to provide more parking than the market would necessarily dictate. The cost to the building fabric is the loss of potential retail as well as the awkward dingbat-style tuckunder parking.

    All in all, it would be a nice addition to the neighborhood.

  2. Eric H says:

    I would agree with Alex’s comments. I don’t think developers should be too worried about making sure everyone in the neighborhood agrees with the “style” or “looks” of the building because they will never satisfy everyone; tastes are too subjective.

    Height and density look great.

    I am sad about the lack of first-floor retail but honestly I don’t know that I can blame them for not including it. The demise of Crepe’s on the Corner I think demonstrates that it is a challenging area for retail, and it might be hard to find a tenant.

  3. Pat Taylor says:

    What is this building’s “front setback” on both the15th St. side and the D St. side? [‘Front Setback’ is the distance (in feet) from the inner edge of the sidewalk to the front edge of the building.]
    I am particularly interested to learn whether the front setback will be within the setback range of the existing block-face [which is the proposed new zoning regulation].
    It is the narrow “front setback” of the condo building on the northeast corner of 15th and C Sts. SE that gave rise to this proposed change in zoning regs. That condo building has such a short front setback compared to its neighbors that it obstructs the adjacent rowhouse neighbors’ light and views. And it is out-of-keeping with all the other houses on that side of the street in that block.

    Pat Taylor 3xx 17th St. SE

    p.s. It would be desirable for all people posting their comments to indicate their block & street. 🙂 On neighborhood issues, I and I believe others,too, would like to know how close the commentors live to the buildings / developments under discussion. For myself, I give greater weight to comments by folks who live in the immediate neighborhood of the development / zoning issues being discussed.

    • bflahaven says:

      Good question. From the preliminary plans, it appears that the building is not setback as far as the existing block on either 15th or D Street. This should be less of a concern on the 15th Street side since there will be space between the building and the existing row (entrance to the parking area). It doesn’t appear that the setback on D would be as narrow as the building at 15th & C though we would need to see more detailed plans to confirm.

  4. Sharon Bernier says:

    I live at 16th and D street. I am concerned that the building does not reflect the architecture of the area. I like the condo building from my old neighborhood, at 11th and Penn Avenue where it looks like it belongs in the neighborhood. One of the beauties of Capitol Hill is its classic architecture and we should fight to keep it that way. I also think it is too tall but maybe it would not seem so if it reflected the architecture of the neighborhood. Sharon B.

  5. […] 15th Street SE – Goodeon Kingston, LLC has begun construction on a 12-unit mixed-use retail-residential building at the corner of 15th & D Street SE. The big news is that they have now decided to include […]

  6. Jamie Rothschild says:

    Well the building is going up and the structure’s architecture looks no different than the original plans. So the owner could not do the right thing and try to have the building fit in to the neighborhood as the condos that replaced Kentucky Court apartments. I thought after all those meetings, there would be some consideration of the input from the neighborhood. I guess checking the box was sufficient for them.

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