27 Jul 2011

Hine Development Inches Forward in the Dead of Summer

The updated design to the north residential units adjacent to Eastern Market (left). Photo courtesy Stanton-Eastbanc

When developers first acquired property at the site of the former Hine Junior High School on Capitol Hill two years ago, they had hoped to break ground on a mixed-use development by 2011.

That’s far from reality now, as planning for the Hine project inches forward through design and zoning approvals.

ANC 6B commissioners, who usually break between July and August, convened for a special meeting on Tuesday to gauge the community’s reaction to updated plans, released by developers last week.

Unlike earlier meetings, which turned out crowds of people and resulted in several changes to designs, last night’s meeting was noticeably quiet. Blame it on a hot, summer night in Washington.

The commissioners unanimously approved a resolution, which makes recommendations for Hine’s design plan, including the project’s public space, landscaping and residential units.

ANC members said they liked the streetscape elements, including the proposed water fountains, planting boxes, trees and a pedestrian-friendly plaza.

But, commissioners were at odds with the size of the project’s central plaza, which will serve as market space on weekends for Eastern Market vendors.

ANC 6B Commissioner David Garrison said the proposed plaza offered limited space for vendors, who currently use a lot behind Hine to sell flea market items.

“The plaza could be a problematic issue,” Garrison said. “I am concerned that there is not sufficient space for tents.”

As part of the ANC’s resolution, developers agreed to meet with vendors to discuss tent spacing in the new plaza.

In addition to input on public space, the ANC heard from Hine’s project architect, Amy Weinstein of Esocoff & Associates, on changes to two residential units.

Developers showed plans for a redesigned façade to an apartment building at 7th and C Street. The apartment, which is referred to as the plaza residential building, will have ground floor retail and above ground residential with a lobby entrance directly off the plaza.

While the building is currently slated for apartments, developers said that could change if a hotel group is interested.

“There’s the possibility that the plaza building could become a hotel down the road, but right now in our plans it’s residential,” said Weinstein.

Across from the plaza building, height changes were made to condos on C Street. Developers made a two-foot reduction in the building and simplified façade elements to match neighboring row homes.

In the approved resolution, the ANC also requested that the condo units undergo a setback from the C Street alley, which would improve access for trucks using the back street for Eastern Market business.

The ANC’s resolution will be presented to the Historic Preservation Review Board on Tuesday, Aug. 4, where the project must clear another hurdle in design review.

If the review board approves the plan, the project awaits zoning from the city. The Planned Unit Development process will start this fall developers said.

Zoning is expected to be held up until early 2012, after which another comment period will open to residents before ground is broken.

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