4330 48TH STREET NW ZONING MEMO
The purpose of this memorandum is to:
1.) provide an abbreviated zoning history on the development of the former AU Law and Superfresh/Fresh and Greens grocery store buildings that currently reside on Record Lot 9 in Square 1499 (“Lot 9”) as it relates to the allocation of residential and nonresidential floor area ratio (FAR);
2.) clarify what can be developed on the former grocery store site as a matter-of-right under the 2016 Zoning Regulations (“ZR16”), and to demonstrate that under matter-of-right zoning the development of a new full-service grocery store on Lot 9 is not possible given the lack of available nonresidential FAR; and
3.) describe how Valor Development’s proposal will leverage the unused density of the historic Spring Valley Shopping Center (the “SVSC”) site in order to provide a high-quality mixed-use project consisting of two residential buildings, one containing a new full-service grocery store, a highly desired neighborhood-serving use, within the applicable height and density limits of the C-2-A (MU-4) zone district (the “Valor Project”).1
The Valor Project will be located on the northern portion of Lot 9, with the existing AU Law building located on the southern portion. The Valor Project and the AU Law Building will each reside on a separate existing assessment and taxation (“A&T”) lot within Record Lot 9,
1 The C-2-A zone district is the current zoning classification of all properties referred to in this memorandum, and
is a classification that derives from the 1958 Zoning Regulations. On September 6, 2016, the 2016 Zoning Regulations (“ZR16”) will go into effect, and the zoning classification for the properties referred to in this memorandum will become “MU-4.” Notwithstanding this change in classification, there is no change to the maximum FAR that is permitted as a matter-of-right. with the AU Law building located on A&T Lot 806 (“Lot 806”), and the Valor Development project located on A&T Lot 807 (“Lot 807”). Each A&T lot is owned separately, with Lot 806 currently owned by American University, and Lot 807 currently owned by Paul S. Burka Apex Real Estate / Paul Burka. Valor Development is currently the contract purchaser of Lot 807.
Lots 806 and 807 were created at the time the AU Law building was constructed. This allowed the AU Law building to be “over built” as to FAR on Lot 806 since it remained within the overall FAR that was permitted on underlying Lot 9. More specifically, when the AU Law building was constructed, the C-2-A zoning in effect at the time allowed a maximum FAR of 2.0, all of which could be devoted to nonresidential use. Based upon the overall 121,272 square foot (“sf”) land area of Lot 9 (Lot 806 = 41,650 sf and Lot 807 = 79,622 sf ), this meant a total of 242,544 square feet of GFA could be constructed on Lot 9. This overall amount of GFA was available to allocate among Lots 806 and 807 in any manner so long as the overall FAR on Lot 9 did not exceed 2.0. Ultimately 179,302 GFA was allocated to Lot 806 for purposes of constructing the AU Law Building, and 63,242 GFA was allocated to Lot 807. According to District of Columbia records, Lot 807 was eventually developed with approximately 53,632 GFA for the vacant grocery store and other retail uses.
Subsequent to the construction of the AU Law building and former grocery store building, the C-2-A zoning regulations were amended to allow a maximum overall FAR of 2.5 on Lot 9, of which only 1.5 FAR could be devoted to nonresidential uses. Consequently, as a result of the amendment, although the overall amount of GFA permitted on Lot 9 increased from 242,544 sf to 303,180 sf, the permitted amount of nonresidential GFA actually decreased from 242,544 to 181,908, or by 60,636 sf. As noted above, 179,302 GFA was previously allocated to Lot 806 for purposes of constructing the AU Law Building. Thus, as a result of the amendment to the C-2-A zoning regulations and the prior allocation of GFA to the AU Law building, the remaining GFA available for use on Lot 807 equaled 123,878 GFA, of which only 2,606 GFA could be devoted to nonresidential uses, which is insufficient to provide a new full-service grocery store.
Under the C-2-A zoning in effect today, and under the MU-4 zoning that will apply when ZR16 goes into effect on September 6, 2016, a maximum 3.0 FAR is permitted on Lot 9, which includes the 20% additional density (0.5 FAR) provided for by the existing Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) regulations. However, despite this increase the 1.5 FAR limit on nonresidential uses remains. Accordingly, under the 3.0 FAR maximum, a total of 363,816 GFA can be achieved on Lot 9, with the maximum permitted nonresidential held constant at 181,908 GFA. After factoring in for the GFA allocated to the existing AU Law building, there remains up to 184,514 GFA that can be constructed on Lot 807 as a matter-of-right, of which still only 2,606 GFA can be devoted to nonresidential uses.
Valor Development could, as a matter-of-right, construct on its portion of Lot 9 an all- residential project containing up to 184,514 GFA, which, after including penthouse habitable space, below-grade/cellar areas, and permitted projections into public space, would result in approximately 230 dwelling units. However, such a project could not include the new full- service grocery store, which is highly desired by the community, due to the lack of available nonresidential GFA on Lot 9 resulting from the prior allocation to the AU Law building.
As currently conceived, the Valor Project would contain approximately 282,000 GFA, consisting of approximately 255,000 GFA of residential use, and approximately 27,000 GFA of grocery store and other retail use. After including penthouse habitable space, below-grade/cellar areas, and permitted projections into public space, the Valor Project would result in approximately 230 dwelling units and approximately 60,000 total sf of grocery store and other retail use. Thus, as can be seen the Valor Project would result in the same approximate number of dwelling units as the matter-of-right project described above, and compared to what currently exists, only increase the total amount of retail space on Lot 807 by approximately 6,368 sf.
Transferring a portion of the unused density from the historic SVSC site to the Valor Project is what makes the proposed grocery store possible. As discussed below, despite the transfer of density, the combined density of the Valor Project and the SVSC will be within the FAR permitted in the C-2-A (MU-4) zone district, as will the combined density of the Valor Project, SVSC, and the AU Law building.
Through the ZR16 design review process (the “Design Review Process”), Valor Development will transfer unused FAR from the historic SVSC site, which is located on Lots 802 and 803, to construct the Valor Project on Lot 807. The Design Review Process can be used voluntarily by property owners in exchange for flexibility in bulk, design, and site placement provided there is no increase in density and no map amendment, and so long as all the property included in the project is contiguous, or separated only by a public street, alley, or right-of-way.
The property included in the Design Review Process application will include Lots 802, 803 and 807, which have a combined land area of 119,138 sf. Based upon the maximum permitted FAR of 3.0 (1.5 FAR nonresidential), this results in a total allowable density of 357,414 GFA, of which no more than 178,707 GFA can be devoted to nonresidential uses. Combined, the Valor Project and the SVSC consist of approximately 298,922 GFA, of which approximately 43,922 GFA is devoted to nonresidential uses (16,922 GFA of which already exists on the SVSC site). This equates to an overall FAR of 2.51, and a nonresidential FAR of 0.37, both well below the maximum permitted 3.0 FAR (1.5 FAR nonresidential). While the existing AU Law building will not be part of the Design Review Process application, the combined FAR of the Valor Project, SVSC, and the AU Law building will also remain within the maximum limits permitted in the C-2-A (MU-4) zone district. Specifically, based upon the combined land area of Lots 802, 803, 806, and 807 (approximately 160,788 sf) the resulting FAR would be 2.97 (1.38 FAR nonresidential).
The ZR16 Design Review Process is a public process, that involves a public hearing held by the Zoning Commission of the District of Columbia, with an opportunity for community and ANC participation. Similar to the Planned Unit Development (“PUD”) process, the issues and concerns of the ANC are also afforded “great weight.” In addition to “unlocking” nonresidential FAR from the historic SVSC site in order to allow construction of the new full-service grocery store as part of the Valor Project, as discussed below, the Design Review Process will also allow Valor Development to construct a project that is superior to what can currently be constructed on Lot 807 as a matter-of-right.
The two buildings proposed under the Valor Project will have maximum heights of approximately 50 feet and 46 feet, as measured from the top of the curb along 48th Street at the midpoint of the front of each building, which is within the maximum height of 50 feet permitted in the C-2-A (MU-4) zone district. In addition, the proposed buildings will provide substantial setbacks along both 48th Street and Yuma Street frontages to reduce the height of the buildings at the property line.
In addition to building height, there are several other areas where the proposed Valor Project does not fully utilize the development potential afforded under ZR16. For instance, while the Valor Project is permitted up to 0.4 FAR of penthouse habitable space on Lot 807, or approximately 31,849 GFA, the proposed penthouse habitable space will only be approximately 20,000 GFA. Additionally, the penthouses will have substantial setbacks to further minimize the height of the building, and be sensitive to the adjacent neighborhood. Finally, the proposed design is also well below the 75% lot occupancy allowed as a matter-of-right on Lot 807 as a result of the considerable setbacks and open space that will be provided.