The Richmarr Construction Corp., one of the Washington area's leading developers, has proposed a large new residential project for a five-acre wooded tract just east of the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Porter Street NW.
For the last eight months, the developers and residents of the Rock Creek Glen neighborhood that borders the project area have been negotiating over the design and number of units in the project.
The development would be built on a triangular site bounded by Quebec Street to the north, Porter Street to the west and south, and Williamsburg Lane on the east.
Richmarr originally proposed building 120 stacked town houses. But a group of residents, fearing the amount of woods that would be destroyed, asked instead for a single building that would contain fewer units.
Richmarr came back with a proposal for a 10-story building containing 200 condominium units, 266 underground parking spaces and a ground level swimming pool. The negotiations are continuing.
The site is currently zoned for single-family detached homes with large yards. But Richmarr must get the land rezoned for either town houses or apartments to accommodate the new development.
Richmarr hopes to reach a settlement with neighbors to save time and money once it files the rezoning request with the D.C. Zoning Commission.
"The residents' major concern is that they would like to have the building screened off, so it's not overbearing on their own sites," said Richmarr president Richard Kirstein.
"We can't even say yet if it would be apartments or condos," he said.
"Basically, we're trying to decide what the best land use for the lot is, but as far as the design of the building is concerned, we haven't even put a pencil to paper," Kirstein said.
Kirstein, noting that Richmarr has met with residents on a regular basis since May said, "We'd like to avoid conflict, and come up with a plan that's mutually advantageous."
"We're asking for their support, and the meetings appear to be going very well," he said.
Grier Raclin, a lawyer and president of the Rock Creek Glen Community Association, which has been leading the negotiations, said, "To put up the town houses required a significant amount of site clearing. It would have put the town houses very close to our homes."
" The neighborhood simply will not lay down to become an island surrounded by town houses," he added. "The developer doesn't want to build single-family homes, but to get it rezoned he needs the residents support."
He added," We have resolved a lot of minor issues, but we are still a ways from breaking ground."
The development would be located half a block from the Cleveland Park subway station, in an area of expensive brick and stucco homes and landscaped lawns.
Many of the sprawling single-family homes lining the quiet, tree-shaded streets are owned by lawyers, doctors and bank executives.
Kirstein, citing "company policy," declined to say how much the condos would sell for, but according to the 1984 Lusk Real Estate Reports, most houses in the area are valued at more than $300,000.
Jacques DePuy, a lawyer representing the 15 households of the Rock Creek Glen neighborhood, said, "Six months ago, there were many concerns -- such as what it means to the neighborhood in terms of traffic and parking, and environmental issues."
"But my clients want to act in a unified way through one voice," DePuy said. "The zoning application could actually be filed within two weeks. That's up to Richmarr." he said.
Such bargaining between developers and residents has become componplace in the last year as developers have tried to avoid lengthy fights before the zoning commission or in court by presenting their proposals to residents early in the planning stage and reaching a compromise on the size and shape of new developments.
"I really believe we're near the end of negotiations," Kirstein said. "They're time consuming, but it's a beneficial process."