Two of the large signs have been removed from the west wall of Uline Arena. Photos by the author.
The illegal signs on the west side of the Uline Arena are finally down. Dogged determination from the local ANC, rather than any city agency, managed to get a powerful owner to comply with the law.
The arena is at 3rd and M Streets NE in NoMA, just east of the railroad tracks. We first discussed the illegal signs in June 2011. A little over a month later, DCRA fined Douglas Development, the owner of the building, for illegal billboards. More than a year has passed, during which time Douglas appealed the ruling and fines.
While Douglas appeared to be successfully running out the clock by keeping the appeal active, another deadline became more pressing. The company needed an extension from the Board of Zoning Adjustment (case number 17809B) that required ANC 6C‘s approval. The ANC presented Douglas with a list of items the commission wanted completed before giving its consent.
The items on the list included:
- Painting/removing graffiti on the roof
- Fixing any openings providing access to the roof
- Fixing the leak in the side of the wall along the west side of the building
- Rebuilding the sidewalk at the corner of 3rd and M Streets (at the 3rd Street side)
- Getting Clear Channel to paint the billboard post (in the plaza area)
- Complying with any DCRA orders concerning the (potentially) illegal billboards at the west wall
- Installing additional fencing (approximately 4 feet high) to prevent cars from parking in public space at the M Street side of the “ice house” property, along with associated gates, benches and other site furnishings.
Number 6, you’ll note, addresses the signs on the side of the building. Douglas Development could have responded that they believed the signs were legal and that their appeal would bear this out. Apparently, this wasn’t an action they wished to pursue. Instead, the signs have come down, and other improvements for the historic, yet vacant, shell are underway.
Kudos to the ANC for holding the developer’s feet to the fire and getting a substantial set of actions in exchange for support. There’s no reason a building can’t be minimally (and legally) maintained while it’s being warehoused for development, and ANC 6C has proven that’s the case.