EastBanc Condo Plan for Penn. & M Gets Mixed Reviews
Developer EastBanc presented its designs for a five-story, red-brick boxy building at Pennsylvania Avenue and M Street at the monthly meeting of the Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E June 29. The site provides an eastern gateway to Georgetown.
Plans call for a 70-seat ground-floor restaurant, eight 2,000-square-foot rental apartments and roof top space. Also situationed next to M Street, the near-triangle of land abuts Rock Creek Park. It currently holds a Valero gas station and auto repair garage and lies across from the Four Seasons Hotel.
According to EastBanc, construction could begin by next summer on the property, which it bought for $4 million in March.
While the commission approved demolishing the gas station and welcomed a re-invention and re-use of the property, several balked at the designs, perceived as boxy, bland and blocking open space.
Commissioner Jeff Jones, who summed up the feelings of some in the commission and in the neighborhood, told meeting attendees and EastBanc presenters of the planned construction: “I feel like this is an opportunity. It’s a blank space. I like authenticity in Georgetown as far as all the different types of architecture that we have. I’m OK with a modern building here. This is almost pedestrian-like."
"We struggled a lot with the building,” EastBanc’s Anthony Lanier said. “It’s a building that grows on you over time. … It’s a very difficult building to understand, and it’s a very difficult site to build on.”
Victoria Rixey, who spoke for the Citizens Association of Georgetown at the meeting, gave the design faint praise: “We feel that this building speaks to the architecture of the West End. This is sort of a ’60s style where you have the concrete slabs with the brick infill, and we feel it belongs better in that neighborhood.”
Besides aesthetic criticisms, EastBanc has more hurdles for the 7,400-square-foot property at 2715 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. (It contracted with well-known Portugese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura for the design.)
The Old Georgetown Board reviewed EastBanc's demolition request and design concept July 2. In September, the D.C. Zoning Commission will designate the property's category, which stills calls for at least three parking spaces. Also, there is a 50-foot height limit for the structure.