ANC Approves Evermay Reuse and Other Actions
Who says that the Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E is against everything? That certainly wasn’t the case on Monday evening when it willingly approved the request by the biotech entrepreneurs Ryuji Ueno and Sachiko Kuno to repurpose the Everymay Mansion on 28th Street. As a conference center, a foundation office, a venue for musical performance and a residence, Evermay would foster scientific research, promote cultural ties between the U.S. and Japan and study the prevention and response to catastrophic events, such as the recent earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.
The key to ANC and neighbor approval was the precise restrictions the new owners have agreed to in their zoning application. As described by Alice Gregg Haase, the owners’ lawyer from Holland & Knight, there will be limits on the number of events, attendees and employees to control traffic, noise and parking impacts on the 155,000 sq. ft. site. These include no more than three fundraising events per year limited to 200 attendees, no amplified music outdoors, on-site valet parking and meetings, concerts and exhibitions that attract no more than 50-100 people per event.
“I’m comfortable with the conditions and the program,” said Charles Eason Jr., the commissioner for the property. Strongly supporting the request was a neighbor, speaking for herself and others on R Street. “I satisfied,” she said.
Included in ANC 2E's approval was a request suggested by Commissioner Tom Birch that the authorization be only for five years instead of the seven requested by the foundation. This would allow for a “trial period…to let the community and the foundation experience each other,” he said.
The ANC also took up the question of changes to approved November 2010 plans to a rear addition at TARI, 1525 Wisconsin Avenue. As presented by Outerbridge Horsey for the Georgetown Citizens Association (CAG) and two neighbors on 32nd Street, the changes are not in accordance with the plans approved by the Old Georgetown Board and are a major visual and aesthetic intrusion on the neighbors. Owner, Sara Mokhtari had this to say, "The irony is that I spent additional money to build something that I thought would be more aesthetically pleasing to the neighbors, specifically Puro Café, who would be impacted the most because of his rear patio. We worked together throughout this whole process." Mokhtari added that she had made the project “smaller and shorter” than she had to.
Residents on Q and 32nd Streets were concerned that their property value could be affected by the improvement, and that they should petition to have her second story torn down. As noted on the site plan, Mokhtari's building is the same size as many of her neighbors.
Commenting that neighbors were being swayed by the campaign waged against her without having all the information, she added, "One of my neighbors thinks her building is six feet away from me. The true distance is 60 feet."
The ANC “urged the OGB to require that the [plans] in the original application be followed.”
Earlier in the evening, the ANC brought to the attention of Director Nicholas A. Majett of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs the building collapse at 1424 Wisconsin Avenue. Not only was the apparently illegal activity continuing, but Commissioner Bill Starrels pointed out that the owner of the building “has a history” such problems.