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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Historic District SWOs

Two Stop Work Orders recently issued relate to the Shaw Historic District designation. One, on 1410 9th Street, was issued because the windows installed were aluminum and not wood frame, in accordance with historic district guidelines (I don't recall if this SWO related to all windows on the facade or just the windows on the bay store front portion of the building). Aesthetically, I found the windows installed on 1410's store front bay inappropriate for a store front and lamented the owner's decision not to install large glass store front windows in this area. The 1410 Stop Work Order is no longer in effect, and the first floor bay windows have been removed. My fingers are crossed that the replacement windows will be more appropriate to a store front facade.

The other Stop Work Order was issued on Veranda,* the restaurant coming to the corner of 11th and P. The Veranda Stop Work Order relates to the building of the patio along the P Street side of the building without the proper approval. As I eagerly await Veranda's opening, it's a shame to see work come to a halt. No less, I've wondered if they were going to do anything else with this new concrete patio, like cover it with slate or brick, and wondered if they've damaged the tree roots around which the patio was built. It will be interesting to see how Veranda resolves whatever historic district issues are raised by the SWO.

I'm generally a fan of the historic district designation, as even though it can be a pain to work with, it protects the fabric of our neighborhood and promotes quality elements in construction. What do you think?



*Thanks to a tipster for emailing me about this SWO! As always, feel free to email tips to slumhistorique at yahoo dot com!

21 comments:

Clay AIken said...

The Historic process is a joke. Who the F*** cares if a window is aluminum of wood? SOmeone's fxign up a derelict property in a ghetto and the city is worries that the windows don't look "right." Please. DC government BS.

Shaw Rez said...

Yeah, some of the nit-picking is undoubtedly annoying given that folks generally are improving the area.

That said, some aluminum windows are god-awful and cheap looking (e.g., the ones that were going in on street level at 1410), as are some other "improvements" that people might tend to make (e.g., aluminum siding), so I kinda appreciate the Historic peeps stepping in with a little insertion of taste (albeit costly taste).

don von suthen said...

Wing Motors on the corner of 9th and P has been operating an out-of-order junk yard for over 10 years. I suppose that's grandfathered historic. bet the rat who finked is some old queen in the neighborhood who needs a better hobby. Pathetic, really pathetic.

DCFusion said...

I have always had issues with the rigidity that home / bussiness owners are subjected to in regards to preserving an area's historical 'accuracy'. I think people need to step back and look at the overall project before crying out about something that is 'not right' or 'doesn't fit'. Aluminum windows require less maintanence so it is understandable that someone would want to use them. I think a better way to go would be that the business should be required to install a window that appears historically accurate, looks good etc, regardless of the material it is made from. Not everyone has bottomless pockets to accurately recreate a historical building.

Shaw Rez said...

Good points for sure... The only-wood-frame-windows rule does seem way too rigid (and I've heard many complaints about it from neighbors), as definitely non-wood windows can look just as good, possess greater longevity, require less upkeep, and can be more efficient than wood frame windows.

In the context of 1410, I think normal double hung (?is that the proper term?) windows just don't look right in a store front bay (especially with commercial space inside). Hopefully that's what prompted the SWO.

I also look to Shiloh's beautiful but vacant buildings--I think that but for the historic district designation, they would be torn down and Shiloh wouldn't be paying anything in taxes for the land.

Greg said...

I think it helps to have a uniform set of standards when conducting improvements in a neighborhood, especially one that has a long and specific history. Admittedly not everyone will be happy with them, but it's better than a haphazard approach to improving a neighborhood. Nobody wants to look at complete chaos. Even us nonpicky young queens! :)

Is there some problem with the visual verification? The image doesn't show - it takes several tries to finally get it to appear.

Or is this a subtle hint? :)

Shaw Rez said...

Greg - you're funny. I didn't get a chance to snap a photo of the windows at 1410 before they were removed, and was too lazy (and late to work) to take a photo of Veranda's patio or SWO.

rr 446 said...

i remember the window at 1410, it was totally different look from the today window. i seriously doubt the previous window was origional because it had a 1940's appearance with a wire mesh filter screen. what is origional, 1900 or 1940's?

Shaw Rez said...

rr - I can't recall the old, pre-renovation storefront windows at 1410. The new windows (installed within the past 2 weeks and taken out this week) were the double hung aluminum windows.

I don't at all mean to malign the folks who've made a significant investment by rehabbing this building. I just think this facade element should shine in accord with its store-front, commercial space origin. I hear that offices are going in on the first floor; I think a bay with a big glass window would work just as well as double hungs.

rr 446 said...

who's paying for the window? when the basement was excavated everything was gutted. what was saved? the perception of what is best is a great debate topic hahaha. maybe those in the office dont want people looking in for security reasons

Shaw Rez said...

yeah, I guess objective standards, though sometimes harsh, help get over subjective calls on what is best and what isn't.

As for the office and the window go, a large, unopen-able window would probably be analogously secure as double hungs. And window coverings are window coverings; double hung or one large glass doesn't affect them.

rr 446 said...

ok then i'm in favor of what was there in 19910 not 1950. that's origional

Shaw Rez said...

Speaking of, don von suthen, what's the deal with Wing Motors, anyway?!? It seems that a few people are always present (sometimes lurking in the shadows). Cars move in and out of the lot periodically--are they selling anything? I don't trust it...

Mr. Ray said...

There are no uniform standards, only the whims of the HPRB. You're right about historic preservation standards in a slum -- I keep threatening to put the green astroturf back on my stoop, the aluminum storm windows (mostly broken) and paint the stone in navy grey paint like it was when I moved in. Then fill the yard with trash, weeds, and liquor bottles to restore it back to its slum status before I check out of here.

T @ Snapshots of a Life said...

I guess I'll take the risk of saying that I generally support the historic designations and requirements. Certainly, they're not perfect, and there are plenty of ways they could be improved. But one of the things that makes this neighborhood unique and special is its history and historic architecture. Without that, how is it any different from any other built-up area of the District?
I totally understand that conforming to the historic requirements costs more money in some cases. But the cheap, easy alternatives, like shaw rez said, are often hideous and in no way improve the image of our neighborhood. I've seen people put smaller windows into the large window openings of their townhouse and fill the rest of the space in with wood...and soon enough the wood is rotting!
*sigh*
Just a few thoughts.

rr446 said...

i look forward to Shiloh's grade A
standard retorations. i expect Shiloh to be held to the same standard as the owner of 1410, nothing less.

Anonymous said...

Mr Ray is patently wrong. There ARE window regulations that are part of the building code just like any other construction regulation. Find them here:

http://planning.dc.gov/planning/frames.asp?doc=/planning/lib/planning/DC.HP_Regulations_10A.pdf

See Chapter 23.

Anonymous said...

Or here is better


Window Regs


.

si said...

What Mr. Ray was referring to is that you have to go get approval from the historic preservation office. This is a very human process that doesnt always conform strictly to the regs. Exceptions are often made, although it seems usually for new construction.

building lover said...

Most permits for work in historic districts in DC can be done at the HPO office. For superficial work, like windows, it's an in-and-out process. Also, they encourage home/building owners to come in for advice and for questions about what is appropriate.

Don't forget that if your building is a contributing structure in a historic district, you can be eligible for tax credits (up to 50% back) on your renovations, which certainly off-sets the cost of better quality, longer-lasting materials, such as wood-frame windows.

The HPO and the HPRB aren't trying to make it difficult to rehabilitate and restore buildings. They provide reasonable guidelines, that over time, will be beneficial to your neighborhood, both aesthetically and financially.

Mr. Ray said...

This summer I purchased incredible German Schücco windows for the back of my house. The windows open up the entire six-by-three foot window space, which in an un-air-conditioned house, is a marvelous improvement. With a turn of the handle, they also tilt back a bit, allowing me to leave the windows open even in the rain. I would do that to the rest of my windows if this weren't a damned designated historic slum. My 100-year old sashes are a mess and leak like sieves -- which I compensate with 3/8 plexiglass sheets that I screw inside the house each winter. We had no voice in historic designation and once imposed, it cannot be rescinded. I advise all of you who are undesignated, to make sure no one is trying to slip this mickey into your residential lifestyle. It is a curse.