Are D.C.’s construction signs for business?

Apparently, I didn’t notice that signs for construction in Washington are for business. Currently, someone is disturbing Washington Architecture Group. Just one might expect big projects like the Hirshhorn or the Hirshhorn Museum Museum…

Are D.C.’s construction signs for business?

Apparently, I didn’t notice that signs for construction in Washington are for business.

Currently, someone is disturbing Washington Architecture Group. Just one might expect big projects like the Hirshhorn or the Hirshhorn Museum Museum in the midst of a multimillion-dollar rehab to distract builders and designers with their attention, but two? One is a cluster of multiple-family residences just off New York Avenue (low on priority). The other has a proposed new six-story, mixed-use building on New York and Ninth streets, two blocks from 14th Street.

The developer tells me the project is supposed to bring jobs and revenue to New York Avenue, an important stop on the commuter rail line for many D.C. residents. Many people familiar with this part of town, however, have other ideas.

Jonathan Shurberg, the who run 1201 Park Associates, which has the headquarters in the Glenmont Business Park at 2000 N. U Street, is behind the project on New York and Ninth streets. Asked to explain why he hasn’t deactivated the construction signs for the initial three dozen or so condos he is building, Shurberg told me, “Anyone can move in and unplug the lights. But we are committed to this community and the neighborhood. In light of that, we have chosen to remain online.”

This project has gotten the attention of more than one neighborhood resident. On the day I visited, Ted Parker, who lives near the project, started knocking on neighbors’ doors to tell them about it. The developer was receptive, and apparently responded to him in some fashion. But Parker also pointed out to me that Shurberg is using a slotted slot design for the development, instead of the traditional Dutch plan.

Across the street, Kay Kelley, who is board chairman of the Glenmont Community Association, told me, “They’re taking up a lot of space. I haven’t seen it. But it’s not quiet … it’s a little nosy.” When I visited the site, I saw the sign went up in June, with residents of the next building — just blocks away — moving in as soon as the contractor finished their basement.

There’s also a social network of Reddit groups formed on the site to discuss the news. Some are focused on fixing up the houses nearby that are being demolished and replaced with 20-foot-tall high-rises. The placement of the towers, currently angled a few feet away from the sidewalks, was considered by the city as a major design issue. The plans were also dramatically altered by a Land Use Committee hearing earlier this year.

As for the neighborhood, Parker told me, “It’s beyond a minor issue. It’s an issue. How could you have building regulations like this? How can you have people building? There needs to be a confrontation. Right now, things are just going up. What happens when they come down?”

Sometimes I find myself asking that question of the streetscape around 14th Street and the changes in it, too. A few years ago, D.C. caught much attention for replacing major downtown power plants and then flooding the West Potomac underpass — creating the view barrier that 13th Street resident Darrell Chin told me baffles locals. The scarred landscape was criticized at the time, as it appeared to be organized the wrong way.

Some construction projects, like the new African American museum to replace the Anacostia Arts Center, are being financed by private capital, with the D.C. government providing lesser help for the Arts Center, according to Sloan Robin. I asked Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office to comment on other projects like that and whether the city is doing enough to encourage private developers to renovate and restore public assets. A city official said the department is reevaluating some of its standards and permits, but that it would be premature to comment until that review is complete.

I know that for all the foot traffic it attracts, I am rarely at WAG. It’s as if these signs are more like a call of warning than an invitation.

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