- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 14, 2001

The Phillips Collection yesterday signed an agreement with its Dupont Circle neighbors that will allow the museum to expand into an adjacent apartment building and construct a massive educational center, complete with a cafe and an auditorium.
"I have to say, I think the compromise is very fair and workable to both sides," said Phillips Director Jay Gates. "On the day that mediation began, I dont think any of us could have anticipated that it would turn out as well as it did as quickly as it did."
D.C. Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, called the agreement "a successful outcome to what was a very, very thorny issue."
The settlement, between the Phillips Collection, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B and representatives of the community, will make way for the museums planned Center for the Study and Appreciation of Modern Art by increasing the museums area from 68,000 square feet to 87,000 square feet.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Vince Micone said the thorniest issue in the negotiations was "the scope of the expansion."
In exchange for the ANCs and the neighbors withdrawal of their opposition, the museum has agreed to cut back its original plans by about 8,000 square feet, eliminating a proposed fourth level and rear extension to the new site, at 1618 21st St. NW. The site currently is occupied by a 15-unit apartment complex. Neighbors say some tenants already have vacated their apartments, and the rest will be required to move.
The Phillips also offered guarantees that idling buses, delivery trucks and other traffic will be redirected from the front of the building on 21st Street NW.
The Washington Times first reported in January that community members had hired lawyers and a public relations firm to protest expansion plans, fearing they would lead to further congestion in the neighborhoods already narrow streets and alleys and add to the nighttime din.
"The biggest argument from our standpoint was whether the Phillips was going to use this new space for big gatherings in the evenings," said Morton J. Schussheim, who has lived across the street from the museum for 25 years and signed the agreement.
Mr. Schussheim said for some nighttime events limousines can clog 21st Street for blocks.
The agreement limits the number of nighttime events to the current level of 65 per year, allowing only six events with more than 300 guests and none over 500 guests. A planned 255-seat auditorium will be scaled back to 180 seats, and plans for a 55-seat cafe will be retained. A proposed underground parking garage was scrapped. The space now will house educational and program facilities.
Terms of the agreement specify that the Phillips will not be allowed to consider further expansion of the museum, educational or administrative centers for 15 years, and will set up a community liaison committee to handle disagreements.
The museum site was formerly the home of philanthropist Duncan Phillips; in 1921, it became the Phillips Memorial Art Gallery. Since 1961, it has been known simply as the Phillips Collection.
The collection, which Mr. Phillips called "a small, intimate museum," previously expanded in 1960, 1984 and 1989. With the latest expansion, the museum and educational center will occupy half a city block.

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