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A controversial development in D.C.’s tiniest quadrant is being put on hold after neighbors complained about its size.
The Bard—a joint project spearheaded by the Shakespeare Theatre Company and Erkiletian, a real-estate firm—has caused consternation in the community since the pair proposed building it at 501 I St. SW in 2014. Now, as local blog SWTLQTC and UrbanTurf report, STC and Erkiletian withdrew their latest Planned Unit Development application for the site in a two-page memo on Thursday morning.
On June 29, the nonprofit and the developer submitted a revised PUD to the D.C. Office of Zoning that called for an “artist studio, rehearsal/practice, arts-education/classroom, and nonprofit office spaces [in] one building.” This development would include “at least 136 residential units”—34 of which would be devoted to rent-free “actor and fellow housing”—and measure more than 90 feet tall. On the following day, however, the District’s Office of Planning recommended against holding a public hearing for the project, saying its proposed density and use didn’t comply with D.C.’s Comprehensive Plan for development or a small-area plan for Southwest specifically.
“In anticipation of further consultations with the Office of Planning and Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D, the Applicant intends to modify the project and refile its PUD application in accordance with the 2016 Zoning Regulations,” STC and Erkiletian’s lawyers write in the withdrawal filed earlier today.
(City Desk has reached out to STC for comment and will update this post if we hear back.)
While the revised PUD submitted last week contained additional community benefits associated with the project, some Southwest residents did not consider them sufficient. Andrea Pawley—a vocal critic of the development—wrote on her Out, Damned Developer! Out! blog that STC “still [wasn’t] fulfilling its obligations” based on a 2014 agreement it struck, under contested conditions, with the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly. She said neighbors “cheered” OP’s decision.
The Bard and the community kerfuffle surrounding it were the subjects of a 2015 City Paper cover story.
Update, 5:36 p.m.: A spokesperson for STC says the nonprofit and the company plan to refile a PUD in the fall, noting that the most recent version included such benefits as educational programs for schools in the area. “We’re looking at the project from a holistic standpoint,” he went on to say. “Hopefully, we’ll address more of [the community’s] concerns.”