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Adams Morgan ANC Holding Community Meeting to Receive Comments on Hotel Project

Mon., Oct. 17 (7-10pm): The Adams Morgan ANC will be holding a Special Forum / Community Information Session at the Goodwill Baptist Church (1862 Kalorama Rd.) on the proposal to construct a 10-story “Adams Morgan Historic Hotel” at Euclid and Champlain Streets, NW which would incorporate the existing First Church of Christ, Scientist and its rear parking area and occupy the property on which the City Paper/WPFW Radio building now sits.

(The InTowner has reported extensively on this project, most recently in the August issue PDF at page 1; see, “Long-Awaited PUD Application Filed for Controversial Luxury Hotel Tower on Champlain Street in Adams Morgan,” available in the Current & Back Issues Archive .)

As the commission states in its public notice, “This is one of several ways we are making certain that the community can share with ANC Commissioners their opinions regarding this project.” In soliciting input, the commission encourages “including what you may perceive as a concern or as a benefit to the community [and] . . .  to identify any considerations or remaining questions that you feel the ANC should evaluate.”

And, while the requirement is for written statements of views, persons who wish to speak at the forum may do so, though limited to three minutes and must have first informed by email that they so wish to do so, and must also provide eight copies of their written statements when they appear. (See detailed instruction below.)

Written comments must be submitted by email to October17submissions@gmail.com no later than close of business on Wednesday, October 19. The following guidelines for submission are required: The subject line must contain the words, “October 17 Submission” and the body of the email must include a complete first and last name and complete address and the comments must be in the body of the email message and not as an attachment. (Submissions and personal information is for the use of the commissioners only and will not be distributed.)

For persons who wish to speak at the forum, they must state this in an email to be received prior to the meeting and then appear with the required eight (8) copies of their written statements which must also include complete first and last name and complete address. A speakers list will be developed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Also of note is that the Kalorama Citizens Association (KCA) is opposing the project and has adopted two resolutions that incorporate their comments with respect to the enabling property tax abatement legislation enacted in late December 2010 by the city council and a second incorporating comments directed to the Office of Planning. Both resolutions are set out below:

Kalorama Citizens Association Resolution Opposing Proposed Property Tax Abatement for a Planned Hotel at the Church of Christ, Scientist, and Two Adjoining Lots

WHEREAS developer Brian Friedman, in collaboration with Marriott Hotels proposes to build a 10-story, 174-room luxury hotel, the “Edition DC Hotel,” at Euclid and Champlain Streets, at Square 2560 on three lots currently occupied by the Church of Christ, Scientist, (the Church) a parking lot and the City Paper building; and

WHEREAS the proposed hotel will be constructed at a projected cost of $127.1 million; and

WHEREAS hotel construction plans include razing the City Paper building; reconfiguring the Church to accommodate events and restaurant and bar space; and building a 160-space parking garage; and

WHEREAS Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham on July 13, 2010, moved Bill 18-0969 titled “Adams Morgan Hotel Real Property Tax Abatement Act of 2010,” which would excuse the hotel from paying a projected $61.3 million in property taxes to the city for 15 years starting October 1, 2014; and

WHEREAS the District of Columbia government in the current fiscal year 2011 faces a projected revenue shortfall of $175 million, according to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, as reported in the Washington Post October 4, 2010, and will be cutting important programs and services as a result of this deficit; and

WHEREAS, allowing this hotel, if built, to not pay the $61.3 million in DC property taxes means that while also incurring additional demands on city services normally paid for by property taxes, cuts will be made in other programs, or that taxes/fees will be raised for other services, or that a combination of cuts and increases will occur to make up the difference, and

WHEREAS, the KCA affirms its support for responsible business development in Adams Morgan, but expresses concern as to the non-competitive nature of the proposed property tax abatement legislation and

WHEREAS the planned hotel will impose great physical strains on the Adams Morgan neighborhood, including: increased traffic congestion from hotel guests, visitors, employees, truck deliveries, and special events; deprivation of sunlight and sky for residents and businesses in the immediate vicinity of the hotel; and increased demand on fire-fighting and other city services; and

WHEREAS Champlain Street and Euclid Street are very narrow streets that can barely accommodate current traffic flow; and

WHEREAS it is highly questionable whether the Adams Morgan neighborhood–which features a mix of single-family homes, four- and five-story apartment buildings, and commercial enterprises occupying townhouse-style buildings– is a good place to build a 10-story hotel, which would be the tallest building in the neighborhood; and

WHEREAS the developers of the planned hotel have not informed the community, including the Kalorama Citizens Association, of their plans, causing many serious concerns and questions to remain unanswered; it is hereby

RESOLVED that the Kalorama Citizens Association oppose the proposed “Adams Morgan Hotel Real Property Tax Abatement Act of 2010; and it is further

RESOLVED that the developers of the planned “Edition DC Hotel” have a civic responsibility to fully inform neighborhood residents and businesses of its plans before the project proceeds further

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Kalorama Citizens Association Resolution Expressing Concerns to the Office of Planning with regard to the Planned Unit Development Application for Construction of a Hotel at Euclid and Champlain Streets

Whereas, developers have proposed to build a 104’ tall hotel, the “Adams Morgan Historic Hotel” at Euclid and Champlain Streets, N.W., on lots currently occupied by the Church of Christ, Scientist, and the City Paper/WPFW Radio building, and

Whereas, as soon as mid-October, the DC Office of Planning, which actively invites public participation, will present a report on this application to the DC Zoning Commission at a so-called “set-down hearing” at which the Zoning Commission will decide if this project has adequate merit to go forward to a full-blown Zoning Commission hearing, and

Whereas, KCA wishes to provide community input to that report, and

Whereas, the proposed hotel will contain up to 227 guest rooms and a 174-car underground garage; with pedestrian and vehicular entrance to the hotel on Champlain Street, N.W.; and

Whereas, the proposed site of the hotel lies within the boundaries of a zoning area known as the “Reed-Cooke Overlay,” which seeks to protect the residential nature of the neighborhood and which limits new building heights to 40 feet and prohibits within its boundaries bars and hotels, while encouraging “small-scale business development that will not adversely affect the residential community” of Reed Cooke; and

Whereas, the developers of the proposed hotel project on July 29, 2011, filed with the DC Zoning Commission a “Planned Unit Development” (PUD) application to seek relief from Reed-Cooke Overlay restrictions; the current R-5B zoning of the Church; the current RC/C2B zoning of the other parcels and relief from rear and side yard requirements in order to construct a hotel that would exceed those restrictions; and

Whereas, DC has established a “Comprehensive Plan for the Capital City” to guide future land use, building construction, and other development, which states in city Policy Mid-City-2.4.5: “Protect existing housing within the Reed Cooke neighborhood, maintaining heights and densities at appropriate levels and energizing small-scale business development that does not adversely affect the residential community;” and, for the larger Adams Morgan area, in city Policy Mid-City-2.4.1: “Protect the historic character of the Adams Morgan community through historic landmark and district designations, and by ensuring that new construction is consistent with the prevailing heights and densities in the neighborhood;” and

Whereas, the members of KCA would like to see the Christian Science Church building preserved as part of a more moderately sized project than has been proposed,

Now, then, be it resolved that the members of the KCA wish to notify the Office of Planning that:

1. The hotel project as currently proposed seeks 2½ times the height allowed by the Reed-Cooke Overlay and, if approved such approval would run counter to the guidance for neighborhood development as laid out in the city’s Comprehensive Plan;

2. The height, density, and mass of the project as proposed, as well as the range of commercial activities it plans to host, is at odds with the residential nature of the Reed-Cooke neighborhood and will have negative impacts on the quality of life for residents of Champlain, Euclid and other nearby narrow neighborhood streets, including traffic congestion, residential parking demand and late-night events that will cause disturbance;

3. The height and overall scale of the hotel as currently proposed will visually overwhelm the historic row-houses along the east side of 18th Street, in the adjacent Washington Heights Historic District, as well as the row-houses and smaller apartment buildings along Champlain and Euclid Streets;

4. Approval of a project of this scale will set a precedent for other very tall, very dense projects, be they hotels or other uses, that will greatly detract from the human scale of Adams Morgan, and further contravene the goals of the Comprehensive Plan as expressed above.