Shakespeare Theatre and their developer have set up two public meetings to present their plans to change the zoning at 501 I Street SW and build a 7-story building. They think they’ve listened to neighborhood concerns, which suggests they are unable to read the letter 51 neighbors signed on January 25, 2016. Shakespeare Theatre isn’t listening, and they’re misrepresenting the neighborhood. We don’t want to see the zoning changed, and we are unsympathetic to the fact Shakespeare Theatre bought a piece of property for a price that clearly meant it was zoned for townhouses and educational purposes (none taller than 40 feet), and now they want to toss that zoning out the window. A piece of property zoned for the high rise Shakespeare wants to build would cost a lot more than the $6.5 million they paid.
The Office of Planning recommended that Shakespeare Theatre participate in DC’s Comprehensive Plan Amendment process (click here to see guidance). That planning process is how a D.C. community makes a strategic, long-term change in the character of a neighborhood. Shakespeare Theatre has not participated in this process, and they don’t seem to have any plans to do so.
Shakespeare Theatre is doing an end-run around the community-based long-term planning process. Worse, they’re trying to dupe our officials into believing that the only way arts can grow just a block from the world-class Arena Stage is by breaking the local neighborhood with a totally inappropriate 7-story building where one was never intended to be built.
Please show your opposition to Shakespeare Theatre’s plans by attending one or both of the public meetings at the Blind Whino SW Arts Club at 700 Delaware Avenue SW from 6:30pm – 8:30pm on Monday February 1, 2016, and Tuesday February, 16, 2016. Shakespeare Theatre will be showing their plans.