September 27, 2023
Ms. Marnique Heath, AIA, LEED AP
Chair, Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB)
1100 4th Street, SW, Suite E650
Washington, DC 20024
RE: Support Connecticut Avenue Development Guidelines
Dear Chair Heath:
Please accept this testimony on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the leading organization advocating for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the Washington, DC region to grow and provide opportunities for all.
We are pleased to express our support for the revised Development Guidelines for the commercial areas on Connecticut Avenue in the Cleveland Park and Woodley Park Historic Districts. The revised Development Guidelines will help us meet the Comprehensive Plan goals of increasing housing, and improving the mix of uses, while ensuring building forms that integrate with the historic districts and foster a people-friendly streetscape around the Cleveland Park and Woodley Park Metro stations.
The Comprehensive Plan amendments in 2021 identified the commercial areas of the Connecticut Avenue corridor to accommodate more housing — with land use designations changed to medium density in Cleveland Park, and high density in Woodley Park. These updated designations by the DC Council support the citywide goal of increased housing in Ward 3 and departure from a history of racial and economic exclusion. The guidelines help us accomplish this while also respecting the function of the historic districts.
Other historic districts have accommodated higher density buildings than what existed in the historic context. With these new guidelines and its existing authority, HPRB has the tools to ensure buildings constructed within the zoning’s allowable height and density are compatible with the surrounding architecture and urban form.
To create housing at these high opportunity, in-demand locations, developers need a predictable process for building new apartment buildings. This was a major goal of the 2021 Comp Plan amendments and this development guidelines process. By approving these guidelines, the board will provide important assurance that substantial new housing and mixed-use development can be gracefully integrated into the neighborhood.
We ask the board to approve these guidelines. They will allow for much-needed housing, while also improving public spaces for residents and visitors, and help sustain a thriving commercial corridor.
Thank you for your consideration.