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Board Says Domino’s Project is Too Large

By Brady HoltCurrent Staff Writer

A developer’s plan to redevelop the site of a Domino’s pizza shop in Georgetown has sparked hope in the community that the 3255 Prospect St. site can hold something better than a squat brick building and surface parking lot.

In particular, the Old Georgetown Board hopes that a new building from local developer Robert Elliott could artfully transition from the larger building on its east side to the row houses on its west.

But the board — which reviews projects within the neighborhood’s federally protected historic district — isn’t satisfied that the current proposal achieves this goal, according to commission secretary Tom Luebke. Members turned down the plan for a five-story mixed-use building at their monthly meeting last Thursday, saying it’s decently designed but just too big.

“The sense was [board members] were supportive of the project. They’d like to see the redevelopment happen — they think it’s a reasonable idea,” Luebke said. The developer is “just having some trouble getting that envelope quite right.”

The board had approved a similar project in 2007 that was never built, and the developer now plans to incorporate the adjacent row house at 3259 Prospect. The new proposal is about 33 percent larger than its predecessor, and the developer is planning about 25 one-bedroom units instead of five larger ones, along with about 1,300 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

The revived, larger project first came before both the board and the Georgetown advisory neighborhood commission early last month as a four-story building that would wrap around and replace the rear of the row house. The board then suggested preserving more of the row house and making the addition smaller.

In response, Elliott told the neighborhood commission on March 30 that he had redesigned the project to shift its bulk away from the row house. He made the new construction on the Domino’s site 4 feet taller and lowered the ceilings to fit a fifth story, so he would retain the same square footage as before. “This isn’t any bigger than the last time we came in here; we just reconfigured it,” he said.

Commissioners replied that it didn’t matter that the proposal was the same size as the four-story version they reviewed in early March, because they had criticized its scale then as well.

“It’s a great big monolith, and I don’t think it takes into account the streetscape directly across the street or the transition to the town house next door,” commission chair Ron Lewis said on March 30.

Luebke said the Old Georgetown Board members generally agreed.

“They’re fairly supportive of the design — they just want [developers] to be careful about the property on the west and work on the transition,” he said. “Unfortunately, in redistributing the bulk, some of it got a little worse.”

The board also remains concerned about the rear of the row house, which would still see some demolition and excavation under the latest plans, according to Luebke. And members opposed plans for a rooftop pool and other entertainment, saying rooftop structures other than mechanical equipment are inconsistent with Georgetown’s historic character.

The Domino’s project is one of two large new buildings planned for the 3200 block of Prospect Street. A commercial building dubbed Prospect Place is in the works to replace the surface parking lot at 3220 Prospect, across the street from the Domino’s site and a few doors closer to Wisconsin Avenue.

Prospect Place has won support from the Old Georgetown Board and now needs Board of Zoning Adjustment relief from on-site loading requirements. Developers are working with the community on a proposal for on-street loading zones that could be used by multiple Prospect Street businesses.

This article appears in the April 8 issue of The Georgetown Current newspaper.