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The staff recommendation to the Historic Preservation Review Board on the application for historic landmark status for the Market Deli has just been posted, and the gist is right at the top: "After careful consideration, staff recommends that the Historic Preservation Review Board not designate the property at 1024 1st Street, SE (Square 740, Lot 802) nor that it forward the application to the National Register of Historic Places with a recommendation for listing."
Recognizing that the argument that as a "building type becomes scarcer in a neighborhood, it takes on the role of representing the whole class of similar buildings that has been lost" is not a "frivolous" one, the staff report nonetheless says that "to accept such an argument absolutely or uncritically would set an unacceptably low bar for significance and thus, designation." It goes on to discuss the history and historical context of the building, as well as the building type, not finding that the structure rises to the level of landmarking in any of the areas.
It then summarizes: "The Board has previously rejected nominations for properties that have been merely typical of their neighborhoods, taking the position that, by definition, these do not rise to the level of landmarks worthy of notoriety. In this case, the nomination and the resource itself do not demonstrate that they are sufficiently associated with historical periods or patterns of growth that have contributed significantly to the development of the District."
You can read my initial entry on the landmark nomination for more background; it was championed by ANC 6D07 commissioner David Garber, and supported by ANC 6D, but sparked a pretty vociferous backlash from some neighbors, as can be seen in the comments on those entries. (I hope to have the Memorandum in Opposition prepared by some of these neighbors soon.)
The hearing by the board itself on the landmark designation takes place Thursday, April 28, so this is not yet a done deal; this is merely the staff's recommendation. There will be plenty of people testifying on both sides, I imagine. (At least it's first up on the agenda, at 10 am.)
(PS: I'm not sure that the staff document as posted is complete; I'm only seeing two pages, and it seems to not really "conclude." Will see if a revised version pops up.)
UPDATE: Here is the very detailed Memorandum in Opposition submitted by a group of neighbors; unfortunately there's no credit line as to who submitted it, and the names of the undersigned aren't included.
Comments (36)
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gf says: (4/22/11 12:13 PM)

MJM says: (4/22/11 12:22 PM)
Whew! Life as we know it will go on!

MJM says: (4/22/11 12:27 PM)
So....anyone have any guesses or rumors as to which 'landmark' will be next in line to try and be saved? Will it be the former theater (taxi repair shop on Half St) or the transfer station/stacks?

JD says: (4/22/11 12:50 PM)
I think David mentioned somewhere that he's working on a landmark application for buildings on the WASA site at 1st and O? (wouldn't be the main pumping plant, that has been a landmark for a long time) Don't know which buildings, though.

David Garber says: (4/22/11 12:58 PM)
I am not working on any additional landmark nominations at this time, although I do think that that the brick building directly across from the stadium on 1st Street between N Place and O Street is pretty great.

JD says: (4/22/11 1:05 PM)
(this is the building David is referencing: link )

F says: (4/22/11 1:05 PM)
Thank goodness more reasonable minds have prevailed!!! My intense gratitude to HPRB Staff for their decision and for not bowing to political pressures.
While we all get frustarted with bureaucratic entities and the long time they take to get things done, the HPRB has shown some real value by taking a reasonable approach to an ill-planned proposal.

I'd like to buy them all a beer at Justins!

Charles says: (4/22/11 1:27 PM)
F's post says it perfectly! I am so appreciative for the HPRB Staff's strength and voice of reason!

Andrew in DC says: (4/22/11 1:29 PM)
And hopefully we can close the book on this matter...

Scott says: (4/22/11 2:14 PM)
You know, I think it's pretty clear that both the raw number of supporters, and the intensity of emotion (judging from an amazingly well-done memorandum in opposition), belonged to the anti-Market deli side of this argument.

I would hope that Mr. Garber would pay attention to his constituents in the future on these types of issues. After all, this is from the ANC website:

"The Advisory Neighborhood Commissions consider a wide range of policies and programs affecting their neighborhoods, including traffic, parking, recreation, street improvements, liquor licenses, zoning, economic development, police protection, sanitation and trash collection, and the District's annual budget."

Regardless of his past pursuits in Anacostia his preservation, Mr. Garber is a public official elected to serve his constituents and promote economic development in his community, not piss off the majority of the people and companies that live and do business in his community.

If he does not remember his primary function in this office, I'm sure everyone will be happy to find him a position to which he is better suited in the next election, perhaps on the Historic Preservation Board.

Kitty Loyd says: (4/22/11 3:17 PM)
For those who'd like to know, I was the one who dropped off the Memorandum with 40 signatures of local residents, 2 staff members who work in the neighborhood, and several local business owners. I did not draft it though!

Mark says: (4/22/11 3:52 PM)
Great news! David, in the future please consult with your neighbors, particularly those of us who own property here, before heading off on your own to support such a designation.

jenniferp says: (4/22/11 4:36 PM)
Well this is a pleasant surprise. I thought there was a good chance that HPRB was going to support the designation based on some past decisions (ie the old, dilapidated wood shack in perpetual existence at 12th & E SE - sorry I mean "shotgun" house). Thank goodness the Capitol Hill Restoration Society has no interest in our neighborhood - although, it was a member I know who offered to help with the cats. I decided not to mention the potential historical designation issue.

Michael says: (4/22/11 6:11 PM)
Not everyone supports the wanton destruction of old buildings simply to advance the bottom line of real estate and development corporations.

The Hoff says: (4/22/11 8:54 PM)
I fully support the destruction of the Market Deli to advance the bottom line of real estate and surrounding property value.

Eric says: (4/22/11 10:56 PM)
Michael's post translated - "The corporations, man."

MJM says: (4/23/11 12:52 AM)
Hey Hoff - wanna play over under on what year Akridge builds something on that lot besides a beer garden? I'm going over with 2019.

Scott says: (4/23/11 1:23 PM)
It has nothing to do with David's (or your) personal feelings over what buildings deserve to be saved. The point is that David, as an elected ANC official, is supposed to promote certain things like new commerce, not piss off developers by trying to designate any old building as historic in the 11th hour.

As I said, there are historic preservation organizations designed to promote these causes, but using your platform as ANC commissioner to do so is inappropriate. That is simply not the role he was elected to perform.

If historic preservation is more important to him than listening to his constituents and promoting new development, than he shouldn't be the ANC commissioner.

None of that means it's wrong for him (or you) to feel the way you do, or to try to promote the causes you think are important...just that it's not appropriate when the goal goes against the job you were elected to perform.

The Hoff says: (4/23/11 5:22 PM)
MJM - I was expecting an over under on when NCC would buy the property.

JD says: (4/23/11 5:23 PM)
To be fair, I'm not sure that an ANC rep's responsibilities officially include promoting commerce or new development. Their responsibility is to act on behalf of ("consider policies and programs") their constituents in civic matters concerning the neighborhood. So, in different neighborhoods that can mean different things, and what the neighborhood wants can change over time as well. (And elected officials often take stands that aren't what a majority of their constituents want. And many times still get reelected. :-) )

And of course there is an official organization in Near Southeast that land and business owners pay to promote commerce and new development: that's the BID.

F says: (4/24/11 4:40 PM)
Is there an existing raze permit for the Market Deli or does a new one have to be issued?

I hope whoever is responsible for said permit executes it immediatley before the board has a change of heart.

JD says: (4/24/11 4:51 PM)
F - Akridge applied for raze permits for all the buildings on that block of 1st; that was what triggered the landmark application for the Market Deli, and so that raze permit approval has been stalled pending the outcome of the HPRB decision.

B says: (4/24/11 6:41 PM)
I am with JD. She beat me to it. Mr Gerber...Man in the Arena:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

That being said. I for one am happy that the Market Deli will not be supported as a historic building.

B says: (4/24/11 6:47 PM)
As for the BID- I experience no commercial benefit from BID taxation. I do experience residential property value increase if thats the case. And so do Capitol Quarter residents, thereby leading me to an argument completely unrelated to this thread: CQ residents should pay taxes.

F says: (4/25/11 8:34 AM)
JD - Thanks for the response. I hope Akridge learns from all of this and gets going as soon as possible.

Andrew in DC says: (4/25/11 8:36 AM)
"CQ residents should pay taxes."

Heh. Newbies. :)

JD says: (4/25/11 8:39 AM)
@B, for the record, that quote isn't exactly the same as what I said. :-)

JD says: (4/25/11 8:53 AM)
@Andrew: Yes, I can't wait to see to another thread with nearly 100 comments on the subject!

SD on Sligo says: (4/25/11 1:10 PM)
Wow, it looks like Historic Washington Architecture should change its name to Historic Washington Demolition Guaranteed. After the Jesse Baltimore House and Albert Schulteis house, don't you think they'd give up jinxing old buildings' chances for landmarking in Washington?

Richard Layman says: (4/25/11 1:58 PM)
FWIW, when I first read about this on the HistoricWashington e-list, I opined that the likelihood of approval is remote, not because the building wouldn't be considered a contributing structure in a historic district, but because on its own, it isn't likely to rise to the level of significance necessary to stand on its own as a "historic landmark."

Having lost one of these battles before, and having assisted other losing battles, plus having some victories (Newton Theater, Uline Arena), I have learned the hard lesson that given limited resources, I am only willing to do a landmark nomination if I predict at least a 70% chance of success.

Anyway, the people criticizing David Garber for doing this are wrong-headed. Maybe you disagree. That's fine. But ideally, the ANC should initiate some more serious discussions and community workshops on neighborhood revitalization priorities.

I'm not offering, as I have to limit the stuff I do for free, but I did assist the Foggy Bottom Association a couple years ago in some community visioning workshops around development issues there.

Ben in SE says: (4/25/11 2:35 PM)
Richard, I will respectfully disagree that those criticizing David are "wrong-headed." It is not unreasonable to expect your ANC rep to solicit input before lending his assistance and support to controversial projects that have the potential to stall development. While historic preservation is certainly an important consideration when representing the neighborhood, it is not the only consideration and in a developing neighborhood like ours, it is certainly not the most important consideration.

If I have seen anything wrong-headed in the comments surrounding this issue, it is the equation of opposition to preserving the Market Deli with a preference that our neighborhood turn into another Crystal City. Not only is this argument flatly inconsistent with the statements of many of those who do not support the preservation of the Market Deli (and I have no reason to believe them to be liars), but it sets up a false choice that if we don't preserve the Market Deli then our neighborhood will be completely devoid of character. To believe this you would essentially have to ignore every other part of our neighborhood beyond the few square blocks that currently house high-rises (which generally employ diverse architecture and arguably add to the character of the neighborhood). How many row house developments are there in Crystal City? Waterfront parks? Other community parks? Baseball stadiums? Actual historic buildings that are being re-purposed for residential and retail uses? I dare say we are in no danger of becoming the next Crystal City.

Richard Layman says: (4/25/11 4:13 PM)
in terms of the "wrong-headed" vs. "not wrong-headed" there is no question that the land in the "Capital Riverfront" district is being reproduced along "Crystal City" lines. But Crystal City has some decent amenities, the park on Crystal Drive, connection to the Mt. Vernon Trail, some pocket parks, etc. Given that it's the 21st Century, some reproduction of space in DC is in order.

FWIW, I agree with you that saving an "old" building or two isn't gonna make a difference in terms of the new character that is being generated.

FWIW/2, once the area was changed significantly with the SE-SW Freeway and then the Arthur Capper projects (not to mention the general urban renewal of SW), preservation of "character" in that particular area became moot. (DK if you have ever seen the Kiplinger Collection photos of the area impacted by the freeway, they were up--DK if they still are--at Sizzling Express on PA Ave. SE).

While I do think it's reasonable for an ANC commissioner to step out like this, because sometimes wrt preservation nominations you just have to act because of the short time frames in which a nomination must be filed, in order to stay demolition, at the same time, I agree with you that ongoing meetings, dealing with these kinds of issues ought to be occurring. That being said, I've never been an ANC Commissioner, so it's easy for me to say how they should do it.

Andrew in DC says: (4/25/11 4:24 PM)

You just love seeing 100+ comment threads on your page ;)

I thought Richard's high-horse commentary would get way more than just the one reply. Maybe it's early, still. This one could see 50, yet!

BillP says: (4/26/11 10:10 AM)
@Andrew - if you're really interested in driving the post count up for JD, I could once again point out that BID taxes are not assessed on single-family residential properties anywhere in the District, since that appeared in these comments despite having no obvious connection to the topic at hand!

Bruce says: (4/26/11 11:40 AM)

Michael says: (4/26/11 5:09 PM)
there is no question that the land in the "Capital Riverfront" district is being reproduced along "Crystal City" lines...

Again, is historical preservation was profitable, in and of itself, you wouldn't need to check the excesses of the market - the market would do "preservation"


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