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.