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Anacostia residents who were infuriated by plans to erect a six-story development on their main street can breathe a sigh of relief: The historic preservation authorities have sent the project back to the drawing board.
Yesterday, the Historic Preservation Review Board considered the plans for the so-called Big K project on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, within the Anacostia historic district. The plans call for five floors of income-restricted apartments above ground-floor retail.
The HPRB unanimously rejected the plans, a project of Chapman Development in coordination with the Department of Housing and Community Development, for largely the same reasons the community has objected to them. They worry that the scale and look of the project are out of place in low-slung Anacostia. They feel that insufficient care and consideration has gone into the proposal to move two historic, if dilapidated, houses on the site to V Street SE. And so they’re asking Chapman and DHCD to try again.
Developer Tim Chapman says he will continue working on the design to try to accommodate the neighbors’ and the HPRB’s objections. “Our next steps would be that we have heard the community’s concerns, and we’re going to go back and see if we can make the project more conducive to what they’re looking for.”
A reworking of the plans would likely involve reducing the scale of the project, perhaps by lopping off a story or two. But incorporating the historic houses into a new development—-particularly in a way that satisfies the HPRB—-could prove a tremendous challenge, given their setback from the street and single-family form.
DHCD could also theoretically re-bid the project—-something neighbors have been calling for, given their criticism of the process that landed Chapman the job. A DHCD spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rendering from PGN Architects