January 3, 2018, 7:00 pm
The meeting convened at about 7:05 PM. Commissioners Bender, Ehrhardt, Hall, McHugh and Quinn attended.
Special meeting to consider a resolution and memorandum of understanding regarding the design review application by Valor Development to build a mixed-use project on the former Superfresh site.
Commissioner Hall stated that the Commission is considering a resolution that supports Valor Development’s proposed development at the former Superfresh site and asks the DC Zoning Commission to incorporate the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) into any zoning order issued. Hall stated that Commission incorporated many requests from the community into the MOU and while not all of the requests were agreed to, Valor Development is asking for nominal relief for their project. The MOU includes an agreement to provide a full-service grocery store, traffic mitigation items including HAWK signal across Massachusetts Ave, curb extensions, LEED silver certification, inclusionary zoning concessions, alley improvements, residential parking permit restrictions, and bicycle parking racks. Commissioner McHugh added that this has been a two-year process and the developer has made numerous concessions and has scaled back the building from their initial proposal.
Attendees asked: if the ANC tried to reduce the number of parking spaces; about the terms and duration of the lease-back agreement for parking spaces between Valor and AU; about problems at the intersection of 49th St and Massachusetts Ave; about commercial access to the site; if Commissioners could respond to a letter that he sent to the Commission; about the selection of the Balducci’s as the full-service grocery store for the site and its effect on Wagshal’s; and what the Commissioners perceive the public benefit of this development. A number of attendees stated they were against the development project. An attendee stated he supported the development because the alternative is an empty site or possibly American University dorms.
Various Commissioners stated they: support the density; have concerns about Balducci’s as the full-service grocer; would like to see on-street bicycle parking, electric car charging stations, the elimination of two utility poles on Yuma St with no utilities on them and two utility poles on 48th street that are carrying a load even though these items are not listed in the MOU; acknowledge the design review process requires fewer amenities than a planned unit development; believe the neighborhood needs a real full-service grocery store; support more housing in the city and in Ward 3; understand that there is a question about the matter of right for the site; like the design; like that the traffic has been pushed into the alley; and understood that this process required compromise on both sides and the developer has made numerous concessions to the size and design of the building. Commissioner Bender noted that Valor had sold the project to many supporters by promising a Harris Teeter or similar supermarket with an approximately 50k sq. ft. area. He felt that a Balducci’s on about 13k sq. ft. constituted a material broken promise, and in light of this he would not support the application. He said, however, that he did not think most long-time opponents of the project would have changed their position if Valor delivered a Harris Teeter; the leader of an opposition group agreed with this proposition. An attendee offered an amendment to the draft resolution and the amendment was not accepted.
Commissioner McHugh moved and Commissioner Hall seconded a motion to approve the resolution as written. The motion was approved by a vote of 4-1-0 with Commissioner Bender voting against. Commissioner Bender offered a clarification motion that the previous vote extended to the MOU. The motion was approved by a vote of 5-0-0.
The meeting was adjourned at around 8:18 PM by unanimous consent.