Site plan image from the application.
The Heritage Foundation wants to build a large parking structure beneath new row houses on residentially-zoned land adjacent to their office building near Union Station. At their Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) hearing on April 9th and the ANC 6C meeting on April 10th, Heritage agreed to several changes which will improve this project.
The parking garage is now slightly smaller, including 3 levels below grade instead of 4. This will decrease the number of spaces to 90 from 105 and reduce the amount of required excavation and construction time.
Heritage will also charge more for the parking. They previously planned to charge $90 per month, the same as the current charge in their parking lot. Instead, the fee will reflect, if not the market rate, at least the cost of building this underground parking structure. This policy change essentially removes a subsidy flowing to employees who drive from non-driving employees and donors.
Close neighbors worried about potential hazards from the garage exhaust shaft. The Heritage Foundation agreed to move the shaft farther from neighboring homes and raised its height above the alley from 8 to 22 feet. In addition, it will replace an existing cooling tower with a more efficient and quieter model.
An air quality study commissioned by the Heritage Foundation at the request of ANC 6C confirms that there will not be unhealthy levels of CO, NO2 and particulate matter at neighboring properties as a result of this project.
A new Capital Bikeshare station, which Heritage will pay for at a cost of $70,000, will also help encourage employees and visitors to use other forms of transportation. It will also create a neighborhood amenity and improve access for other local businesses along Massachusetts Avenue, NE. This was included at the request of DDOT, before their BZA hearing, but was not in the original filing.
The new rowhouses are a positive improvement to this neighborhood, and recent changes will help mitigate some of the negative impacts of the parking structure.
The ANC voted to support the project, and the BZA will rule on the required variances and special exceptions in the near future. Now that the ANC and many neighbors are in support of this project, it is likely that the BZA will follow suit and approve zoning relief as well.