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Chinatown mixed-use project passes historic preservation hurdle

A previous iteration of the Gallery Tower proposal

A mixed-use project at 610-624 I Street NW and 609-619 H Street NW in the Downtown Historic District moved closer to approval with a September 18 decision by the Historic Preservation Review Board to accept two key elements in its conceptual design.
The developer is expected to return to the HPRB in November to address remaining concerns and for final concept plan acceptance, according to Steve Callcott of the District's planning office.
The project involves renovating and altering nine buildings on I Street and demolishing a five-story alley warehouse in order to construct an 11-story retail/residential building. A pedestrian bridge would be built over the north-south alley. The project is bounded by 6th, 7th, H and I streets NW.
The concept design was originally submitted to the HPRB last May, and has undergone substantial revision in response to its suggestions. An east-west pedestrian alley bridge was eliminated, and architect Hickok Cole incorporated many other suggestionsto make the new construction more compatible with the historic district.
In its September decision, the HPRB found the height and mass of the new building was acceptable, as were changes to the north-south pedestrian bridge, which would connect at the third, not the second, floor and be reduced in size.
Besides the HPRB process, Monument Realty and Hickok Cole Architects have other steps before the project is approved. One step is approval from the Mayor’s Agent for demolition of the alley warehouse, which is designated an historic building. Callcott says an application has not yet been received.
The second step is approval from the D.C. council to close the alley, a requirement in order to build the pedestrian bridge. The alley would be reopened after the bridge is built. No such request has been made to date, says Callcott.

Read more articles by Barbara Pash.

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