The long and winding road
of the Florida Rock
project took a pretty surprising turn tonight, as the Zoning Commission opted not to vote on the second-stage PUD
, instead asking the applicant for to come back with an altered design that addresses the commission's concerns: the need for a greater amount of residential within the project (up from the current 40%, with the understanding that this would cut down the amount of office space), better views of and from the stadium
(specifically in terms of the views of the Anacostia River from the grand staircase at 1st Street, and also the views of the stadium from the South Capitol Street Bridge
), and a somewhat amorphous desire for a better "expression of place" (something that makes the site and the project more identifiable on the waterfront side).
Commissioners Parsons and Jeffries led the discussion about the concerns; Parsons in particular was extremely concerned that the project--which started long ago, well before there was a stadium to the north--would be looked at as a huge missed opportunity if it were approved in its current form. He mentioned how originally there was great emphasis put on the need to keep the axis of Half Street running through the project (see the project map to orient yourself
and understand the discussion), but now that Half Street doesn't exist anymore thanks to the ballpark, perhaps the site could be pushed in at the center to allow more space at its ends and to respond to the stadium. Commissioner Jeffries expressed that this should be much more of a "civic" location (i.e., more for residents and less for office workers), and that there needs to be a better design plan, and that the commission has a responsibility to "get this right." When Commissioner Turnbull said that these requests constitute "major surgery", Jeffries replied that in his view the project needs
major surgery, that incremental changes aren't getting the project where it needs to be.
Next steps? Good question--there was talk about how, when an extension was requested back in 2004, there were concerns that if it weren't granted the Florida Rock people would just leave a concrete plant on this valuable land, and the commissioners expressed a bit of worry about whether they'd do that now--and Commissioner Hood, who was skeptical of these requests at such a late date in the process, said that if he were the applicant, he would leave it as a concrete plant at this point. Yeowch. I will keep you apprised, of course.
Monument Realty's Half Street mixed-use project
was given final approval on a 5-0 vote, with the exception of one variance request. Commissioners Mitten, Hood, and Parsons all remarked on how much they like the project, and Parsons made mention of how responsive Monument was to the concerns expressed by the commission at the January hearing