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Apartments may emerge from former coal yard, auto garage in NoMa

(Studio 27 Architecture)

Developers are seeking to transform a property that once served as a coal yard into an apartment building with more than 100 units.

The historic property, known as Chapman Stables, is at 57 N St. NW on a block filled with rowhouses three blocks from the NoMa Metro station.

Developer John Sunter, who is backed by firm FourPoints, plans to present the proposal to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) for approval in late May.

Current plans call for about 110 apartments, with a combination of one and two bedrooms, said Stan Voudrie, principal of FourPoints. About 60 parking spaces would be built underground. One floor would be added to the two-story stables fronting N Street NW, while a larger five-story addition would be added to the back, on what is currently an empty lot. Studio 27 Architecture designed the plans.

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The site had been a coal yard with stables in the early 1900s. Chapman Stable and Garage then transitioned with the times into a car and bus garage. In 2013, the DC Preservation League successfully made a case to the HPRB to enter the site into the city’s Inventory of Historic Sites, saving the crumbling garage and stable from a planned demolition.

“The interior of the block was teeming with activity in the early 20th century,” Sunter said in an e-mail. “This inspired us to create a project that spanned from the street to the interior, and to provide entrances and sidewalks on Hanover Place NW and invite pedestrians to the area.”

Most recently, the site was home to the Brass Knob Back Doors warehouse, an antique- and salvaged-home goods store, which closed in 2010. Since then, the site has been vacant, with boarded-up windows.

Liliana Rodriguez, who lives on the block with her husband and two children, said she is happy to see something positive happening with the building. However, she questioned how the new population would fit in with the families who currently live on the block.

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“I have a little trouble with the fact that they are rentals, and not condos,” Rodriguez said. “What I would love for the neighborhood are more long-term homeowners moving in. It’s going to be such a transient community.”

Voudrie said he believes that that plan fits in with the larger neighborhood, if not that block.

“If you look at the buildings that are across Hanover Place NW from us,” said Voudrie, “there are larger, commercial buildings. If you cross O Street NW, there are a couple of large apartment buildings there. We are in line with the neighborhood.”

Neighbor Jonathan Rogers said he is looking forward to the development.

“I think it’s a good project,” said Rogers.“The currently crime-ridden alley will have more ‘eyes on the street’. Our neighborhood is in a busy area, and it’s growing along with the city. This change is inevitable, and as long as it doesn’t displace anyone, I think it’s ultimately a good thing.”

If Sunter and FourPoint secure approval from the HPRB at the hearing on May 28, they will be set to move ahead with construction.

Shilpi Malinowski is a freelance writer.