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Adams Morgan hotel design: Shorter and more red

Thursday - 2/2/2012, 11:34am  ET

WASHINGTON - Designs for the proposed Edition D.C. hotel slated for Adams Morgan have been ever-so-slightly reduced and re-hued in an effort to appease zoning and historic review panels and get the project under way.

The 227-room boutique hotel and spa, to include the First Church of Christ, Scientist building at Champlain and Euclid streets (the main lobby and primary event and restaurant space) and a nine-story addition rising behind (mostly hotel rooms), has not been an easy sell. Many neighbors think the building is too big and out of place, while the D.C. Office of Planning found the initial design too high, the exterior brick too dark, and the overall application generally lacking detail.

In the latest plan, submitted last week to the Historic Preservation Review Board, developer Adams Morgan Church Hotel LLC has "made some important concessions and at the same time improved the project," said Matt Wexler, a partner in the LLC.

The hotel square footage remains the same, 152,572, but the revised design cuts the height of the hotel addition from 92 to 90 feet. The two feet does make a difference, Wexler said.

Whether it will be enough of a difference to please the review board, the zoning commission or critical neighbors is another matter. The maximum height allowed in the Reed-Cooke Overlay, an area of special zoning restrictions that includes the hotel site, is 50 feet. Even if the developers are successful in removing the property from the restrictive overlay, the design would still be pushing the bounds at 90 feet.

Designers also responded to planning office concerns that the use of dark brick in the original design may be "overwhelming." The new renderings feature more red brick and what Wexler called " iron metallic fillings." The hotel addition, meanwhile, has been stepped down along Champlain Street to better blend in with lower rise buildings there, Wexler said.

There is no HPRB hearing scheduled yet for the 227-room hotel project, but Wexler said the developer hopes to have both historic and zoning reviews complete by the summer. That may be overly optimistic, but we'll see.

The D.C. Council in late 2010 approved a 20-year, $46 million tax abatement for the hotel project. Supporters argued it will bring daytime commerce to Adams Morgan, jobs for D.C. residents and tax revenue where none is being generated today.