- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment met long enough this week to decide it needs more time to review Washington Real Estate Partners’ H Street redevelopment project as community groups demand more information before it is approved.

The real estate operating company paid $42 million in November for the 200,000-square-foot office building at 601-645 H St. NE.

It proposes redeveloping it into a 312,000-square-foot mixed-use project of condominiums, offices and ground-floor retail space.

The company estimates it will be worth $150 million when completed.

First, Washington Real Estate Partners must convince the Board of Zoning Adjustment the project will not trample the property rights and peace of mind of homeowners nearby, some of whom say their back yards on G Street are as close as 16 feet from the proposed mixed-use site.

“We don’t think it’s a very sensitive addition to the corridor,” said Drury Tallant, co-chairman of the Stanton Park Neighborhood Association.

Washington Real Estate Partners’ application for zoning approval is testing how the Board of Zoning Adjustment will interpret the H Street Neighborhood Commercial Overlay approved by the D.C. Council early this year.

The Overlay sets zoning and architectural standards for redevelopment of the H Street corridor.

Parts of the building at 6th and H streets Northeast would be raised to nine stories from the current five, towering over town houses that are as little as two stories high.

Washington Real Estate Partners, which did not return phone calls, is revealing little publicly about its planned redevelopment project.

Nevertheless, documents it filed with the D.C. Zoning Commission, which oversees the Board of Zoning Adjustment, show the new building would include 234 residential units, 500 underground parking spaces and a rooftop swimming pool.

“There are more zoning variances and special exceptions required for this project than the applicants outlined in their submission to the Board of Zoning Adjustment,” Mr. Tallant said.

He said the density of residences and offices would be too great for the site, the underground parking might create traffic congestion and the boxlike architecture “really looks like the building is stuck in the ‘60s.”

The Board of Zoning Adjustment has scheduled a rehearing on the application for Nov. 21.

In other news …

• Ice cream maker Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream plans to open its expanded 705,000-square-foot plant in Laurel next week, making it one of the world’s biggest ice cream plants.

Dreyer’s sells its ice cream under the brand names Edy’s, Haagen-Dazs, Dreyer’s and Nestle.

Dreyer’s took over the plant in 2003 and operated with 275 employees in 108,000 square feet. The expanded facility covers space equivalent to 14 football fields and will employ 725 workers. The company plans to add another 240 employees in the next two years.

Dreyer’s credits at least part of its growth to the fact that “America loves its ice cream,” said spokesman Matt Amodeo.

Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Contact Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail [email protected]

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