A neighbor alerted me to a zoning hearing set for tomorrow morning regarding the infamous properties at 9th and Q Streets and Rhode Island Avenue. Owner Michael Sendar seeks a variance from the properties' R-4 designation to allow general retail (but there is no identified tenant or retail use). Purportedly, the proposed zoning relief will enable Mr. Sendar to sell the buildings and bring life back to the old buildings.
Although this plan of action makes sense to me, I am against the variance because I am skeptical of granting a variance without knowing what business, or at least type of business, will benefit from it. I think that the R-4 designation should be respected unless the owner brings to the neighbors a specific business--or at very least a development plan that includes a general business use--that's un-offensive to the neighbors (e.g., I don't want to see a liquor store, another weird religious cult bookstore, or a takeout joint fill this spot -- something's not always better than nothing). I concede that it may have been a mistake to designate at least one of these particular properties as R-4 in the first place, given its location on the busy intersection of 9th and Rhode Island. Nonetheless, the designation is in place, and until Sendar or a future owner presents a plan for bringing a business to the site with a general idea of what that business will be, it should remain R-4 in my opinion.
The hearing will be held in Suite 220 South 441 4th Street, NW tomorrow (September 23) at 9:30 a.m. If you have any questions, you can call the Office of Zoning at 202-72706311.