Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More on the U Street Hotel

JBG cos. are pushing forward with their plans for a hotel project at the corner of U and 13th streets, but the project has gotten a little smaller.

Bowing to pressure from nearby residents, JBG recently unveiled revised plans for the hotel, which include--among other things--lowering the height of the building from a proposed 10 stories (and 98 feet from ground to parapet) to 9 stories (87 feet). The two images below show what the hotel would have looked like at its proposed 10 story elevation 9top image), and what it will look like with 9 stories (bottom image).

Now, I'm no architectural critic, but I feel that the 10 story version looks a lot nicer. The building seems stunted at 9 stories.

This isn't the worst thing that could have happened to the project of course, but I really do have to question what has been accomplished here. We were in attendance at the March CSNA meeting where the project was discussed, and the height issue was raised. Contrary to the comments made by several in attendance that evening, the proposed height of the structure was not "grossly disproportionate" to the neighborhood. It's tall (by DC standards), but not oh-my-gosh-that-building-is-massive tall. When presented with a scale model of the neighborhood in which the hotel would reside, it was difficult to identify which building the hotel was--something that should be readily apparent for a building that is supposedly so out of proportion to its surroundings.

The building looks fine in its new proposed state, but it could have looked better--and it's hard for me to understand how an additional 10 feet was going to adversely impact the neighborhood.

In addition to the decrease in structure height, JBG has also added a "cantilever condition" in the rear of the building that has decreased the building's footprint and added five additional feet of space in the back. It's not much, but in the original proposal things looked to be pretty cramped back there (particularly when delivery trucks are added to the mix), so it can only help.

JBG will be at the CSNA meeting on Thursday, May 14 to seek support from the CSNA for the project. You can find additional information at the CSNA's website.


CSNA said...

Could you please add CSNA (Cardozo Shaw Neighborhood Association) to your sidebar listing of civics - is our site.


Joel Lawson said...

I couldn't agree more. Opposition to this project equates, in my opinion, with an anti-stimulus attack on DC's economy.

A hotel of this scope, employing many people both directly and indirectly, and drawing customers to local businesses, is not something to be left to the oppositional process fetishists around here.

Chris Loos said...

10 stories definitely looks better. The building has more room to step back from the street creating a more slender, tapered look. But what can you do? Nimbys will be nimbys.

Anonymous said...

that god for socialist community groups that protect people in DC from having a nice building in their neighborhood.

if those lunatic developers had their way every street in DC would be covered with nice shit!!

Anonymous said...

Those who favor the development of a hotel at 13th & U St. NW show little regard for their neighbors who reside behind it on Wallach Place. The concern is not for being literally “in the shadow of it;” we know that it is on our north side. Our concerns are: as proposed, it will be butt up against the alley line, effectively reducing the width of the now available alley, making it hard to get in and out of our off street parking; it will be an eyesore in a residential neighborhood; it will lower the value of residential properties on Wallach Place.
I should think the residents of Ellington Apartments would also be opposed to the project, for it will obliterate their view of the city, for which they pay big bucks. There is an empty space behind the Ellington Apartments, which means that the residential neighborhood does not butt directly up against it. There is no such empty space between the proposed hotel and the houses on Wallach Place.
The proposed hotel with boutiques will not necessarily enhance the neighborhood or give residents anything they need. For openers, we could use a grocery store more than boutiques or more restaurants.
The project now seems to be on hold. The John Buck Company (JBC) of Chicago owns the property and proposes building the hotel. I am told it is possible that their associate, Mubadala, a state owned development company in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, may have less money than it once had.
Fortunately, there are many working within the Cordozo Shaw Neighborhood Association (CSNA) to oppose the project. Please imagine if you lived next to the proposed project and show some consideration for your neighbors,
who are not "oppositional process fetishists," thank you.
Chuck W

Mr. Other Upper NW said...

Chuck, the only reason I elected to post your comment (which I typically don't do for posts older than 6 months) is that I find your thinking--and that of other Wallach Place residents--on projects like this to be out of step with the trajectory of the neighborhood.

You may find the project to be an "eyesore"--I happen to disagree--but I find it particularly interesting that you classify Wallach Place as a "residential neighborhood" when the streets immediately to its west and north are two of the busiest commercial corridors in the city. That does not a "residential neighborhood make--the neighborhood is a mix of residential and commercial.

Regarding the hotel causing a decline in property values, that concern is based on nothing more than mere speculation--and considering that the explosion in commercial growth along 14th and U streets has largely contributed to a general rise in property values in the neighborhood, I find it questionable at best.

Regarding the alleyway concerns, I've seen models of the proposed hotel, and I fail to see where alley access would be lost or compromised. And you'll forgive me for questionning the legitimacy of your concerns for the Ellington residents who woul dhave their views of the city "obliterated".

Regarding the "necessity" of independent retailers in the hotel, considering that this project is years from completion and no one has an inkling of what will ultimately end up there, I fail to see how you can claim that the neighborhood doesn't "need" it.

There are legitimate arguments to be made both for and against a hotel at this location, but it would be tremendously unfortunate if a project of this stature were to be shelved due in large part to concerns the likes of which you have expressed here.

Gary A Urra said...

The residents of the Ellington do not own their apartments, so it seems obvious to me that those who oppose it are the huge company that owns the Ellington. It is, to me, a fight among big developers.

Those who live on Wallach Place will not lose any benefits of sunlight as the building is to the North of them.

The building looks better in its previous scale.

This hotel will be a net plus for the neighborhood and I encourage all in favor to come out of the closet and express their support.