I attended last night's meeting of the Zoning Commission to hear what was said about Roadside Development's City Market at O Street proposal. As you may recall, last month the Zoning Commission did not set down the project (in other words, the Zoning Commission did not set down the proposal for a public hearing, which is one of the final stages in the PUD process), but instead asked Roadside to come back to present more information justifying the height and massing of the project. The Zoning Commission's main concerns seem to be with the height of the project in relation to the surrounding buildings and the density of the project in relation to the lower density zones.
I'm sorry to report that last night the Zoning Commission again let down the Shaw neighborhood--and D.C.--by not setting down Roadside's proposal. Indeed, the blow they dealt was even stronger than last month's, as last night they required Roadside to come back next month with a new proposal altogether for the development, suggesting Roadside plan for shorter buildings and lower density. The Zoning Commission's action flies in the face of numerous things going for Roadside's current proposal: the current plan complies with the Comprehensive Plan for the site (which contemplates higher density and taller buildings), advances neighbor and neighborhood desires and input, and meets very real market needs. The plan also opens up 8th Street, thereby advancing the L'Enfant plan and decreasing the developable area of the site, which justifies greater density on the developed portions. Finally, Roadside has conveyed at public meetings in the past that the high density and tall buildings help offset the hugely expensive underground parking and loading areas that their current proposal will offer (two things that I think more-than-justify the offset of higher buildings and density).
Who knows what this will mean for the O Street Market site ultimately. At very least, this will delay the ground breaking by several months. I fear that it could have greater ramifications on the extent of ammenities to the neighborhood provided by the project.