Photo: Steve Thurston
Clarification (April 26, 9:30a.m.): We have not heard what would happen to the businesses occupying these buildings. --Editor.
Property owners along the 2300 and 2400 blocks of Columbia Pike have hired area architect Temple Washington, a principal with WHA Architecture, to draw plans for a building that county officials say would replace three buildings with a single, taller one. Washington confirmed that his firm is working on the property, but did not comment further.
The buildings just west of Bob & Edith’s Diner along the south side of Columbia Pike include the Rappahannock Coffee shop, the L.A. Nails salon and the Saah furniture store.
The plan, as described by Michael Leventhal at last week’s Historical Affairs and Landmarks Review Board meeting, is a seven-story building, though zoning along the Pike only allows for six stories.
That piece of information sent HALRB members into a discussion about the use of the special zoning rules along Columbia Pike and whether developers should be allowed to negotiate out of them.
In give-and-take negotiations with the county, developers have had a chance to exceed zoning rules in the past by paying money toward community goods such as park space or affordable housing.
In this case, HALRB members said the owners hope to trade a green building (LEED) designation for the extra floor. Members said a LEED designation should grant a developer extra square footage, not another entire level on a building.
“You can work your way up to another level,” Leventhal said to the group. He is the historical preservation coordinator with the county.
Leventhal said that county staff has agreed that the developers would only be required to save the facades of the historic buildings, not the entire structures.
In return, the developer should not be asking for bonus height, he said, “That’s my objection.”
They may come to the HALRB with preliminary designs as early as June. The project comes before the HALRB because the buildings were designated historic in early Columbia Pike planning.
"We're probably two or three steps away from seeing something formally presented,” Leventhal said in the telephone interview.