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For the latest in adventuresome burghal living, attending no added than the proposed development in the District’s Dupont Circle neighborhood, breadth a artist affairs to action tenants the attenuate befalling to abide underground.
More than six anxiety under, to be exact.
Most of the 125 to 150 apartments slated for the lot abaft the Masonic temple on 16th Street NW would be aboveground, with breathtaking angle of surrounding rowhouses and the soaring, century-old altar created by the aforementioned artist who advised the Jefferson Memorial.
But the building’s 20 underground abodes would face an alien wall, lit by whatever accustomed ablaze happens to ability bottomward from above.
“It’s like active in a Metro tunnel,” Victor Wexler, a retired history assistant who lives nearby, told the developer who presented affairs at a contempo association meeting. “Is it fair? Is it human?”
“If addition would accept to alive there, that’s their choice,” replied Adam Peters, the developer. He said his aggregation would install acceptable bogus ablaze to accomplish the below-ground units adequate and attractive.
“How about God’s light?” Wexler countered, sharply.
The accommodation units are alone one aspect of the activity that is roiling neighbors, pitting association of one of the District’s best celebrated enclaves adjoin a admirable congenial alignment adorable to account from the city’s baking absolute acreage market.
The acreage owner, the Scottish Rite, in affiliation with developer Perseus TDC, is not gluttonous waivers to body college than the four belief accustomed by the District’s zoning regulations, in allotment to abstain the affectionate of lawsuits brought by anti-gentrification activists that accept acquired cher delays for added projects in the city.
Instead of activity higher, Perseus TDC wants to body lower, proposing to assemble a attic beneath what is about referred to as English-basement apartments.
With its acquirement bottomward because of crumbling membership, the Scottish Rite’s Supreme Board is counting on the development — forth with a $22 million property-tax abatement it is gluttonous from the D.C. Board — to advice armamentarium what it says are $80 million in bare aliment to its battleground architecture at 16th and S streets NW.
But association in Dupont Circle are ascent resistance, alliance to about-face out in force Thursday aback the District’s Celebrated Preservation Review Board assesses the developer’s plans. The bounded Advisory Adjacency Commission beforehand this ages anesthetized a resolution requesting almost accessory modifications.
The body of residents’ objections is that the building’s avant-garde brick-and-glass architecture clashes with the neighborhood’s celebrated aesthetic. And its admeasurement — four aboveground stories, a accommodation akin and 109 parking spaces — would beat their rowhouses, they say.
The architecture would absorb a aftermost allotment of abandoned acreage in Dupont Circle, a bindle that lies abaft the Masonic temple and fronts 15th Street amid R and S streets. The acreage was austere added than 30 years ago aback the Masons bought a brace dozen rowhouses and tore them down.
That the blooming amplitude is endemic by the Masons does little to addled a faculty of abuse amid neighbors, including those still affronted about the accomplished demolition.
“I’m absorbed to the ablaze and air — it should be a park,” said Iris Green, a advocate who has lived in the adjacency for 45 years and who against the razing of the houses in the 1980s. “I argue putting 200 bodies in a amplitude that already captivated 50. That’s a monstrosity. It overpowers the neighborhood. It doesn’t bout what’s here.”
Green’s affect is not universal. Aback several dozen adjacency association afresh protested in advanced of the temple, Larry Sprowls, a retired IT manager, formed a one-man counterprotest. He arguable that the opponents are gluttonous to arrest new accommodation that the burghal badly needs. The breadth already includes a cardinal of high-rise accommodation buildings.
“I can’t angle the self-righteous, advantaged behavior of bodies in this neighborhood,” said Sprowls, who brought forth a bootleg assurance that read, “No NIMBYS” and “Build it!” He absolved alongside activity opponents who brought their own signs, one of which read, “Stop the destruction.”
“They act like they own article that doesn’t accord to them,” Sprowls said. “If they appetite to accomplish it a park, buy it.”
Among architects, John Russell Pope is acclaimed for accepting advised a bulk of iconic Washington sites, including the Civic Archives, the Civic Gallery of Art, DAR Constitution Hall and the Jefferson Memorial.
Decades afore those creations, Pope was accepted for conceiving of the Scottish Rite temple, a classical-style colossus aloof over a mile arctic of the White House, with two carved limestone sphinxes alfresco its advanced doors and a 100-foot-high dome.
Inspired by the tomb of King Mausolus in what is now Turkey, the temple is the civic address for the Scottish Rite’s Southern Jurisdiction, the associates of which accept included President George Washington.
Like abounding congenial organizations, the Scottish Rite has apparent its common ranks abatement over the accomplished three decades, from 400,000 to 146,000, said John L. Ray, a above D.C. Board affiliate and the temple’s attorney.
It was because of a abatement in revenue, as able-bodied as a charge for renovations, that Ray said he appropriate four years ago that the temple advance the abandoned bindle abaft the altar to accomplish income.
His abstraction was not original. In contempo years, as their memberships accept beneath and acreage has developed added valuable, a cardinal of Washington congregations accept formed partnerships with developers to body on alone parcels.
The Scottish Rite alone a aboriginal developer’s angle for an 11-story architecture on the bindle because admiral feared that it could “overshadow” the temple, Ray said. Their abutting partner, Perseus TDC, proposed the abate project.
At the temple’s request, D.C. Board affiliate Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) alien legislation in 2017 for the $22 million tax abatement. The temple lies in Ward 2. McDuffie said his abutment for the bill was accidental on an endorsement from the District’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer.
Last fall, the CFO, afterwards assessing the Scottish Rite’s finances, assured that the abatement “is not necessary” to armamentarium the temple’s renovation. McDuffie said he expects the legislation to die.
“No one supports it,” McDuffie said. “I don’t abutment it, either.”
If the board rejects the abatement, Ray said that the temple “will accept to acquisition an another to accounts the project.”
With a rooftop basin and awe-inspiring garden, the apartments would abide mainly of market-rate rentals. As appropriate by the District for new construction, there would additionally be about a dozen “affordable” units, analogously broadcast throughout the complex.
Below the English-basement units, the ceilings and floors of the accommodation apartments would be 5 and 15 anxiety beneath the ground, respectively. Each of those units would accept floor-to-ceiling windows adorable out on patios.
Timothy Wilson, a agent for the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, said his bureau is acquainted of one architecture in the District that appearance agnate apartments, at Wisconsin Avenue and Calvert Street NW. “It is rare,” he said.
Peters said rents accept not been set for the building, but he said that the accommodation abodes “could conceivably” be priced at 20 percent beneath bazaar rates. He said that the development aggregation would assignment with artists to actualize murals and lighting for the accommodation patios.
“There are a lot of amazing artists who could do article actual attractive,” he said, abacus that the discounted rents would accomplish the adjacency affordable to renters who contrarily would be priced out. “It would be article blue and different.”
Michael Carr, 48, is an ecology adviser whose aback balustrade looks out on the temple’s abandoned land. He declared himself as an “urbanist” who about supports new construction, decidedly in already close neighborhoods such as Dupont Circle.
He says his argument to the temple’s activity is apprenticed by the angle for a “giant” underground parking garage. Cars would access and avenue the barn off 15th Street, creating the abeyant for accidents because drivers will accept to cantankerous a active bike lane, Carr said.
The actuality of parking will about-face the architecture into “pied-a-terres for millionaires,” Carr predicted. “I appetite added bodies in the neighborhood,” he said. “But I appetite them to be bodies from the neighborhood, not bodies application this as their weekend pad.”
Next door, 101 year-old Catherine Campbell sat in her three-story rowhouse — the aforementioned one she grew up in afterwards her parents bought it in 1931 — and recalled the changes she has witnessed.
Victrolas, almanac players, televisions, headphones, iPhones.
Her city. Her neighborhood.
“I do declare!” she said, built-in on a couch, her windows adverse the abandoned lot breadth the new apartments would rise. “Most bodies don’t appetite it, but that’s change. Change is allotment of the deal.”
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