Planned Unit Development Filed Despite Objections from Over 50 Immediate Neighbor Households


Copyright 2016 Shalom Baranes Associates

Shakespeare Theatre continues to trivialize neighborhood opposition to their Planned Unit Development (PUD), which seeks to rezone 501 I Street SW. Their February 3, 2016, PUD application says, “During these meetings, the Applicant continued to receive support as well as localized opposition from some of the townhouse neighbors.”

I don’t recall much support. What I recall is a room full of 50-100 people on numerous occasions over the last two years vociferously objecting to Shakespeare’s plans to build a high-rise at 501 I Street SW.

At one of those meetings (July 28, 2014 – before Shakespeare Theatre purchased the property), Chris Jennings, the Director of Operations for Shakespeare Theatre said Shakespeare Theatre will not proceed with their plans if the neighborhood objects to the proposal.

We objected to the Theatre’s proposal then, and we object now. This is not “some of the townhouse neighbors.” This is nearly every household within 200 feet of the proposed rezoning.

Tone-deaf to widespread neighborhood opposition, Shakespeare Theatre filed its PUD this week. Below are a few images from the combined materials.

Copyright 2016 Shalom Baranes Associates

Note the flattering view of the height (click on the document to get a better view) – as if every single proposed new building didn’t stand taller than the townhouses and Amidon-Bowen Elementary School. The angle makes the townhouses in the foreground seem taller. A more accurate angle would show the view from I Street looking north at street level. No mention of the height of Amidon-Bowen Elementary School is made in the rendering, which would show that building at about 20 feet, less than half the height of the shortest of the several Shakespeare Buildings.

Copyright 2016 Shalom Baranes Associates

This view is special. It shows forty-foot tall trees at street level. Forty-foot-tall trees would probably be at least 30 years old. I wonder if the trees were put in this drawing to make the 90-foot-tall building look smaller. For real tree growth possibilities, take a look at how much the trees on G Street SW between 7th and 9th have grown in the 10 years since they were planted.

Copyright 2016 Shalom Baranes Associates

Oh wait! Here’s a ground-level view. This view from I Street shows the building so tall it actually obscures the 6-story section behind it and the 4-story building near the Amidon-Bowen playground.

The renderings also don’t have the right perspective on Amidon-Bowen. The lot holding the playground and soccer field is not shown correctly, and no attention is paid in any of the drawings to the height of the buildings that are proposed to surround the playground in two sides.

What else is missing: all the “No Parking” signs proposed for 6th Street. Shakespeare Theatre wants parking on the 501 Eye Street side of 6th Street be reserved for their staff — exacerbating the neighborhood’s already crowded parking situation.

The narrative portion of the document continues to misrepresent neighborhood opposition to the proposed rezoning. Click here for the cover page and here for the material I’m referencing. Shakespeare Theatre is not responsive to community concerns. Shakespeare Theatre’s Planned Unit Development application is an attempt to gloss over the community’s numerous deep concerns. Shakespeare Theatre’s application also attempts to subvert the Office of Planning’s work with the community to help shape the future of Southwest D.C.

The PUD is now available on the DC Interactive Zoning Information System (you’ll need to set up an account), and on my Dropbox site linked here (no account needed). 


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