During a June 5 Zoning Commission hearing, representatives from the DC Department of General Services testified that the city plans to demolish Building 9 on the DC General campus and that DGS, working with the Mayor’s Budget Office, had identified the estimated $2 million needed to raze the building this coming year.
As I wrote in a previous post, the city is relocating the Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter from Building 9 to Building 27 on the DC General campus. The relocation is due to hazardous and unsafe conditions in Building 9, particularly in the 85 percent of the building not used by the shelter. Since Reservation 13 is zoned to conform with the Reservation 13 master plan, the city needs to get zoning relief to allow the shelter relocation to happen.
Originally, the Office of Planning sought a text amendment that would have allowed shelter use permanently in either Building 9 or Building 27 (not both) and referenced the Department of Human Services’ plan to move the shelter back to Building 9 once renovation was complete. In a May 14 submission to the Zoning Commission, ANC 6B objected to the text amendment and urged the Zoning Commission to require OP to seek a time-limited special exception to allow the temporary shelter use. ANC 6B also urged the Zoning Commission and city to signal intent to demolish Building 9.
After consulting with DGS, DHS, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and reviewing ANC 6B’s comments (pdf), the Office of Planning revised their text amendment to limit the use to Building 27 for period of 5 years. Though I testified (pdf) on behalf of ANC 6B for the special exception, the Zoning Commission approved OP’s revised amendment. While this was not exactly what we wanted, adding a time limit was big move in our direction.
Though getting a time-limit included in the text amendment was a big news, the bigger news was the DGS announcement that the city plans to raze Building 9 this coming year once the women’s shelter is relocated to Building 27. The demolition of Building 9 opens up the northern third of the Reservation 13 site (parcels B1, B2 and C) for development and certainly signals the city’s commitment to the Reservation 13 master plan. Overall, a good outcome for both the residents of the women’s shelter and for the development vision for the site.
I really appreciate DGS, DHS, DMPED and OP’s willingness to revise their original text amendment and find funding to raze Building 9. I’m also appreciative that the Zoning Commission agreed to include a time-limit on the temporary use in Building 27. And, finally, I’m grateful to my colleagues on ANC 6B for supporting a strong position on this issue and to former ANC 6B Commissioner Ken Jarboe for sharing his expertise and advice on the zoning issues at hand.
You can watch a replay of the June 5 Zoning Commission hearing on the Office of Zoning website.