Monday, December 9, 2019
ARC Members attending: Christine Hobbs, Stefan Hurray, Ana Evans, Anne Weir, Danny Ince, Win Brown, Phil Eagleburger, David Kay, Tina Mead, Ron Ngiam, and Lois Orr. Also attending were Rick Nash, President, Cleveland Park Historical Society and Camilla Carpenter, Executive Director, Cleveland Park Historical Society.
3400 Connecticut Avenue/2911 Newark Street NW (The Macklin Apartments)
The Macklin Apartments were designed by M. Mesrobian, a noted Washington, DC architect, in 1939. This building is located on a larger site at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and Newark Street. In the original submission for historic designation for the Cleveland Park Historic District, the Macklin is particularly noted, especially the fact that the building is pushed back away from Newark Street and into the hill side as the street moves up the hill away from the commercial area and to the residences.
This project was first presented to the ARC in November, 2019. The basic concept of the project remains unchanged. The owner is proposing to build two new structures: an apartment building to the west of the Macklin (the “West Building”) and a townhouse/commercial building to the east. (the “East Building”). The Macklin Apartments will not be rehabilitated. On the west side of the site, a new 31-unit four-story plus penthouse building would be constructed. There would be two subterranean levels connected to The Macklin. On the east side of the site, four townhouses would be built and facing Connecticut Avenue, there would be a pedestrian plaza with commercial space. The proposal has elicited neighborhood concern over issues of historic preservation, as well as neighborhood support.
Based, in part, on recommendations from the neighborhood and from the ARC, there have been several changes made to the proposal previously presented to the ARC. The curb cut on Connecticut Avenue would be eliminated, allowing the proposed pedestrian plaza to be free of vehicle traffic. There have also been several changes to the West Building. A small loading dock would be added to the rear of the West Building, facing the public alley. Also, the height of the penthouse on the top of the building has been reduced by four feet, the main entrance of this building has been moved to the east side of the building, and a glass façade and several balconies have been added to the fourth floor. Additionally, a stairway has been added between the Macklin and the East Building connecting the sidewalk on Newark Street to the pedestrian plaza and the commercial area.
The ARC considered the East Building and the West Building separately and has the following comments:
• This location at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and Newark Street is significant for the Cleveland Park neighborhood both from an historic preservation perspective and as one of the major entrances into the neighborhood.
• The ARC appreciates the efforts of the owner to respond to the previous ARC comments and the resulting improvements to the project including the pedestrian stairs and the elimination of the dead end on the south end of the commercial strip.
• The ARC remains concerned about the height of the West Building. Possible solutions to making the addition subservient to The Macklin include eliminating one residential floor, reducing the size of the fourth floor and pushing it back from the front façade, and placing the front of the building in the same plane as the Macklin (recognizing that the result would move the West Building further from the sidewalk due to the curving of the street at that point.). In addition, the detailing of the Newark façade should include residential-scale elements such as small panes, balconies, railings, on a floor by floor basis, with less emphasis on colossal (multi-floor) scaled motifs.
The motion passed 10-1.
• The ARC remains concerned about certain aspects of the design of the East Building, particularly the very prominent corner at Connecticut and Newark. This may require further design development. However, a rendering of this southeast corner of the site will be needed in order to fully evaluate the design. Also of concern is the placement and management of trash for the East Building, again because of the prominence and important of the corner. The motion passed 11-0.
• The ARC requests additional information on the retaining wall to the west of the West Building, including materials, height and a rendering. The ARC also requests a view of the rear loading dock.