CLEVELAND PARK HISTORICAL SOCIETY
BOARD of DIRECTORS MEETING
Sunday, November 17, 2019
Resolution on 3400 Connecticut Avenue/2911 Newark Street NW (The Macklin Apartments)
Whereas, Velocity Property Management (“the Applicant”) seeks to construct two new buildings at The Macklin, a contributing property in the Cleveland Park Historic District at the intersection of Newark Street and Connecticut Avenue, N.W., to include new residential apartments, townhouses and commercial space.
Whereas, specifically on the west side of the contributing property site the Applicant seeks to construct a new 31-unit four-story plus penthouse building and on the east side of the site, to construct four townhouses facing Newark Street and Connecticut Avenue, NW, with a pedestrian plaza and additional commercial space facing Connecticut Avenue (together the “Velocity Proposal”).
Whereas, the Macklin apartments and shops were designed as a finished four-sided, mixed-use building by M. Mesrobian, a noted Washington, DC architect, in 1939, and the Macklin building is located on a site at the prominent corner of Connecticut Avenue and Newark Street, NW.
Whereas in the 1987 designation for the Cleveland Park Historic District on the Department of the Interior National Register of Historic Places (“National Register Designation”), the Macklin is extensively described in the criteria for significance, notably that the building is set back away from Newark Street and tucked into the hill side as the street moves up the hill away from the commercial area and to the residences; that the Macklin “does not dominate this very important corner which has always marked the entrance into the oldest portion of Cleveland Park’; and “by siting his building as he did, Mesrobian left some vital open space with a significant view clearly indicating the integral relationship between the residential community and its vital neighborhood shopping center.”
Whereas, the National Register Designation, among the criteria for significance, also sets forth the Macklin’s connection to the Uptown Theater as forming an “aesthetically unified” and “unusually intact Art Deco commercial strip,” which is “one of the best examples in the city,” and which “maintains its integrity especially with regard to scale” and is “remarkably unified in appearance”; and the curvilinear character and viewsheds of Newark Street, which “from Connecticut Avenue, the hill – with its houses rising in a nice progression of front porches along the street – is clearly visible.”
ARC Preliminary Comments
Whereas, the Architectural Review Committee (ARC) of the Cleveland Park Historical Society Board of Directors preliminarily reviewed the Velocity Proposal on November 11, 2019, and provided the following principal comments:
· In order to fully evaluate the proposal, the ARC needs additional information including pedestrian views from up and down Newark Street, a rendering of the proposed retaining wall, a cross section of Newark showing the houses across the street, and views from the alley.
· The proposed apartment building is too large and the penthouse too tall. The new structure should defer to The Macklin and be set back from the street.
· The façade of the new west apartment building, especially where it faces Connecticut Avenue, needs further refinement as it is too commercial looking.
· The design of the townhouses needs more detail as well.
· The ARC is concerned about the dead end created on the south end of the existing commercial strip.
Whereas the Board of Directors of the Cleveland Park Historical Society has reviewed and discussed the Velocity Proposal, the National Register Designation and the ARC comments to date;
Whereas infill development at this prominent contributing property in the Cleveland Park Historic District will permanently alter the site;
Now, therefore be it:
RESOLVED, the proposed infill development project at the intersection of Newark Street and Connecticut Avenue, N.W. must give careful, thoughtful review to ensure that it contributes to and does not diminish the contributing property and the Cleveland Park Historic District;
RESOLVED, that the project must be well-designed, be sensitive and defer to its historical and architectural context and site (especially because the Applicant asserts that the proposed west building should be considered as an “addition” to the Macklin), and respect the criteria for significance in the National Register Designation;
RESOLVED, that according to the examples and elevations in the Applicant’s materials, the proposed design evokes a more industrial, Bauhaus-type style which predated Art Deco that is not reflected in the Cleveland Park commercial strip and does not recognize or suggest the Art Deco architectural style of the Macklin, the Uptown theater or the adjacent contributing structures,
RESOLVED, that the Board supports the ARC’s preliminary comments with respect to the Velocity Proposal;
RESOLVED, that the Board, in order to provide additional guidance to the Applicant, the Historic Preservation Office and the Historical Preservation Review Board, also calls for the Velocity Proposal to be modified to respect and address the criteria for significance and other relevant elements in the National Register Designation with respect to the Macklin, the Macklin site, the Macklin’s connection to the Uptown Theater, the views of the Macklin, and the viewshed and streetscape from Connecticut Avenue along Newark Street; and
RESOLVED, that the Board authorizes the president and/or his designee(s) to represent the Board on this matter.