ANC 6B Opposes DGS Takeover of Lower Seventh Flea Market

ANC 6B Report - March 2019

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B held the monthly meeting of the full commission at the Hill Center on Tuesday, March 12. On the dais: Jennifer Samolyk (6B01), Gerald Sroufe (6B02, secretary), Brian Ready (6B03, parliamentarian), Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04), Steve Holtzman (6B05), Corey Holman (6B06, treasurer), Kelly Waud (6B07), Chander Jayaraman (6B08, chair), Kasie Clark (6B09, vice chair) and Denise Krepp (6B10).

The ANC voted 8-2-0 to send a letter to the Department of General Services (DGS) objecting to the decision to assume management of the Saturday outdoor market on the 300 block of Seventh Street SE. A request for proposal (RFP) for new management was issued on Feb. 7, but DGS rejected the only applicant, apparently on the grounds that the applicant had requested no licensing fee be charged. DGS then announced that it would take over management of the outdoor market.

In the letter, the commissioners argued that it is inappropriate for an agency to release a solicitation and then decide to assume control and operation for which the solicitation was issued, saying that such an action “undermines the open contract and procurement process.” The commissioners called for DGS to either reissue the RFP or pay the licensing fee, adding that any further decisions should be publicly vetted prior to adoption. 

Renovations to Folger Shakespeare Library
The commissioners voted unanimously to endorse the application for a public space construction permit by the Folger Shakespeare Library (201 East Capitol St. NE). The permit is the first step in making renovations to the building and grounds, planned to begin early in 2020.

The concept design expands the interior rooms into below-grade public space that will include two new public exhibition spaces as well as a gift shop and washroom facilities for the galleries and the theatre, and two elevators for accessibility within the building, including the theatre balconies.

The building’s main entrances will be relocated to new east and west public gardens. The plinth, the elevated platform along East Capitol Street, will be made accessible so that visitors can see the nine famous bas reliefs along the facade.

All of the entrances will be made fully accessible, as well as the interior space and the exterior plinth, which will be graded to allow access at the front of the building. Currently, the main entrances are accessible by temporary ramps, but these are not graded to support the weight of electric wheelchairs. Stairs in the interior also inhibit accessibility to exhibits.

The plans eliminate the turnaround driveway on Second Street and the associated curb cut. The iron fence on Third Street will be removed to open the garden to public use. Much exterior public seating will be added, and the gardens will be illuminated by “discreet” public lighting.

The bike lane will remain open throughout construction. The construction contractor has not yet been selected. The building will be closed and the collections relocated during construction, although staff will continue to work from the building during renovations.

Completion is anticipated in mid-2022, with the reopening contingent on the preparation of the building once construction is complete. For more information see the feature story in this month’s Hill Rag.

Opposition to Third-Floor Addition on C Street
The commissioners voted to oppose a proposed third-floor addition to a former blacksmith shop at 620 C St. SE. The applicant proposed an apartment on the second and third floors above a proposed main-floor office space. Neighbors objected to the increase in height and argued that a proposed mansard was inconsistent with the neighborhood. The applicant pointed out that street was relatively eclectic, containing row houses, a large apartment building and a parking lot. By a vote of 6-4, the commissioners voted to support proposed changes to the first floor, take no position on changes to the second floor and oppose the third-floor addition. 

Commission Supports Basement Entrance
The applicant appeared seeking support for a historic preservation application (HPA) to alter the front areaway within public space to add a basement entrance. The applicant had received a permit from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to begin excavation at 209 C St. SE, when work was halted for a historic preservation application (HPA) review. The applicant therefore sought permission, after the fact, to add an entry to the basement unit, to which applicant is legally entitled according to recent changes to the zoning code. The main problems were the distance of the facade of the building to the sidewalk and the height of the main landing versus the sidewalk. The guidelines suggested a middle landing for the staircase to hide the basement entry, but there was insufficient space.

The applicant indicated he was still working with the Historic Preservation Office (HPO) to select a final design but expected to make major changes to the application. Expressing dismay at the cost to applicant and the lack of coordination between District agencies, the commissioners voted to support the application, including access to the permitted basement. Recognizing that it does not comply with guidelines requiring a mid-level landing, the commissioners also supported a cut in the retaining wall to facilitate access. The vote passed 9-0-1, with Oldenburg abstaining.

Livable Communities Meeting
Holtzman reported on a March 11 meeting of the Livable Communities Task Force to facilitate discussion on improvements to Parcel 1, site of the so-called plastic park, as part of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza Project. The more than 70 attendees of the meeting expressed interest in facilities for dog-owners and children as well as concern regarding the cost and maintenance of the site. Holtzman said that he was working on a report on the issues raised and was hoping to present feedback at the next Eastern Market Metro Plaza (EMMP) Park Advisory Team meeting (EMMPAT), to be held March 20, and scheduled a discussion regarding Parcel 4 on March 25 at the Southeast Library.

‘How’s My Driving DC App’ in Testing
Holtzman thanked ANC 6B resident Mark Sussman for his work on the How’s My Driving DC app, which allows users to report parking violations. Whereas 311 is designed around property and traffic crimes, the app focuses on pedestrian and cyclist safety and may change the paradigm of enforcement.

The app is still in beta testing, but users interested in testing can go to hmdapp.io to sign up. Follow @howsmydriving on Twitter to learn more. 

Other Matters
The commissioners voted to appoint resident members to committees as follows:

  • Katherine Szafran – ABC Committee
  • Joseph Sandor – Livable Community Task Force]
  • John Ten Hoeve – Transportation Committee

The next meeting of ANC 6B will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9, at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital (921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE). Visit www.anc6b.org for more info; email 6b@anc.dc.gov or find @ANC6B on Twitter.