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Future of 15 Dupont Circle in limbo, for now

Last week, the Historic Preservation Review Board rejected plans for a luxury hotel proposed for 15 Dupont Circle, also known as the Patterson House.
Before the proposed hotel was deemed incompatible with adjacent buildings and with the historic district it would occupy, David Shove-Brown, a partner at D.C. architecture firm Studio 3877 (the name refers to the latitude and longitude of the District of Columbia), spoke to Elevation DC about the project, which in October had gained the approval of both Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B and Dupont Conservancy.
“The location is amazing,” Shove-Brown said. “And the original mansion is incredible.”
The design proposal called for the first and second floors of the four-story mansion to be converted to restaurant, lounge, bar and gathering space open to not only hotel guests but also the general public. The third and fourth floors would be converted to 14 or 15 hotel rooms.
In addition, the 1956 Annex structure would have been replaced with a six-story building that would maximize the zoning capacity of the site and add another 24 to 30 guest suites.
The ANC, the Conservancy and the DC Preservation League had asked for changes to Studio 3877’s original designs, such as modifying the roof penthouse size, reducing the amount of window fenestration and using different materials to better tie into not only the existing mansion, but the adjacent Embassy of Iraq. Studio 3877 had made all requested tweaks from all stakeholders, Shove-Brown said. Following the October 23 meeting, more – such as fewer rooms, and smaller square footage of those rooms – are now being discussed.
Designed by renowned architect Stanford White (of the legendary McKim, Mead and White firm) and dating to 1901, Patterson House was put on the market in March by its owner, a women’s group called The Washington Club. At 36,000 square feet, upkeep on the place was deemed too costly for the social club, whose membership is in decline.
One of the prospective buyers is French Quarter Hospitality, Studio 3877’s client. Shove-Brown and the principals at French Quarter – currently conducting financial assessments to determine whether the new round of changes HPRB is asking for will still allow it to meet its revenue goals for the prospective hotel – still hope the hotel proposal can find its way to being approved.
With the future of the property now in limbo, Shove-Brown is trying to remain optimistic that his company’s vision for it will bear fruit. The sellers, he concedes, are eager to find a buyer. One or more foreign embassies are said to be interested in purchasing the property.
“Everybody wants this project to happen,” says Shove-Brown, a self-described “eternal optimist” who met business partner David Tracz when both attended architecture school at Catholic University of America. “One little thing has to shift in the planetary alignment; once that happens, all the pieces will fall into place.”

Read more articles by Amy Rogers Nazarov.

Amy Rogers Nazarov is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist with more than 25 years experience as a staff reporter and a freelance writer, covering technology, adoption, real estate, and lifestyle topics from food & drink to home organizing. Her byline has appeared in Cooking Light, The Washington Post, Slate, Washingtonian, The Writer, Smithsonian, The Washington Post Express, The Baltimore Examiner, The Sacramento Bee, Cure, The Washington Times, Museum, and many other outlets. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors and tweets at @WordKitchenDC.
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