- The Washington Times - Monday, September 4, 2000

Project will not improve parking, local activists say

Activists fighting plans for a new 350-space parking garage in Adams Morgan have gone to court to prevent the developer from breaking ground on the project.The activists, a group of neighborhood residents and business owners, filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court last week to prevent developer Michael Gewirz from beginning construction on the garage, to be located on city-owned land at 18th and Champlain streets NW.

A hearing is expected to be held by Friday, the activists said.

Lisa Duperier, an Adams Morgan resident leading the fight against the garage, said construction should be delayed while the city conducts a study to determine if the neighborhood a popular evening and weekend destination because of its eclectic mix of bars and restaurants needs a bigger parking garage.

The 350-space garage Mr. Gewirz plans is part of a $40 million project that is also slated to include 60 condominium units and retail space.

He hopes to break ground this fall, and said he shouldn't have to change his plans now, two years after the city approved the proposal for his project.

"This has been in the works for a very long time. These concerns have already been discussed and resolved," Mr. Gewirz said.

The five-story project would be built on a site that is now home to a 160-space parking lot.

According to Mr. Gewirz's plan, as many as 60 spaces in his 350-space garage would be reserved for the residents of the condos. The opponents claim the project will create a net gain of only 85 to 100 new spaces.

Ms. Duperier said the city should force Mr. Gewirz to provide alternative parking while his project is under construction.

"We have a parking crisis in Adams Morgan, and this project doesn't even begin to help solve the problem," said Ms. Duperier, adding that she has collected 1,300 signatures on a petition demanding a bigger garage be built at the site.

A federal study in the early 1990s recommended the city build a parking garage on the site, one of the last open lots in Adams Morgan.

The District bought the land for $3.3 million in 1994 with plans to build a 540-space garage. But the city abandoned that plan when citizens complained a garage of that size would generate more traffic in the neighborhood.

As a compromise, the District agreed to let Mr. Gewirz build a smaller garage and condos on the land. The D.C. Council approved that plan two years ago.

Last month, the 120-member Adams Morgan Business and Professional Association, one of the parties to the lawsuit, voted to support efforts for a larger parking garage, saying the loss of parking while construction on Mr. Gewirz's project is under way will hurt merchants in the neighborhood.

Other citizens support Mr. Gewirz's project, saying it will bring at least some parking relief to Adams Morgan.

"A compromise solution had been worked out over years and years of discussion. It wasn't something that was arrived at lightly," said Mike Gould, president of the Kalorama Citizens Association. "If the compromise is scuttled it'll be a very long time before we have additional parking."

D.C. Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, has not taken a position on the controversy, although he said he is frustrated with the time it is taking to solve Adams Morgan's parking problem.

"This is taking on the qualities of the Great Pyramid. It's literally a project that's been under contemplation going on 20 years and the subject of endless discussion … let's get on with something here," Mr. Graham said.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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