Parking issues stall micro-unit apartments near D.C.’s Logan Circle

| January 20, 2014

Last May, developers Brook Rose and Gregg Busch seemed like pioneers. The two were proposing an eight-story, 38-unit apartment building in the Logan Circle neighborhood of D.C.’s downtown — of which 32 would be “micro-units” of 280 to 350 square feet. In addition to riding the trend of miniscule apartments, the duo distinguished themselves by offering no parking for tenants, an innovation that Rose told the media was demanded by the dimensions of the small, narrow lot that would house the development.

Furthermore, Rose and Busch promised that their lease agreements would prohibit tenants from seeking the residential parking permits (RPPs) that privilege on-street parking for residents in certain D.C. areas. To ensure this, the developers said they would check in with the DMV periodically to see if tenants were complying with the agreements. They also said they would provide the building’s first tenants with a one-year subscription to a car- or bike-sharing service.

Logan circle in Washington, D.C.

Logan Circle in D.C. was supposed to get a building of brand-new compact apartments for professionals – but parking requirements have thrown a wrench in the works. From Ted Eytan.

The developers’ proposal has received support from the city’s Office of Planning, Historic Preservation Office, local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, and other agencies but got a cooler reception from the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) in early January.

The BZA requested more evidence that the developers’ plan would work, asking for a study that would prove that their proposal wouldn’t create more parking issues for the traffic-heavy neighborhood. The board also wants written proof from the DMV or the city’s Department of Transportation that the developers’ scheme to check tenants’ applications for RPPs was feasible.

Board member Peter May also asked why Rose and Busch would limit the one-year subscriptions to car- and bike-sharing services just to the building’s first tenants. Why not all building residents?

The developers said that they would address the BZA’s concerns when it revisits the board late next month and defended their proposal to the press. “The zoning plan calls for high pedestrian activity. I think it’s a shining example of increasing density while maintaining the historic fabric of the street,” said Rose. “People are willing to give up space and their cars to be in the city center where the action is happening.”

The board’s reaction generated lively commentary from readers of Urban Turf, which reported on the meeting. “There are enough people in DC living car-free or desiring to give up their cars to live in a walkable, transit-accessible place,” wrote on commentator. “Forcing the developer to provide parking here is unnecessarily expensive, and that expense will only get passed on to the people who want to live car-free in the first place.”

Still another reader expressed skepticism about either the developers’ or a public agency’s ability to enforce the lease agreements: “I find it hard to believe they are going to spend the time and money regularly investigating all their tenants to make sure they didn’t get an RPP and enforce parking laws on the streets around them.”

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Category: Enforcement, Parking management, Transportation

About the Author ()

Cielo Lutino is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. She has written for such publications as the L Magazine and Portland Monthly, and her literary nonfiction has appeared in journals such as the Los Angeles Review and Cold Mountain Review.

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