A Tabard Win: Historic Preservation Sends Follies Hotel Back to the Boards
At this morning’s Historic Preservation Review Board hearing, board members seemed eager to get Morton Bender’s N Street Follies Hotel off their docket. “This case has been around for a long time,” said board chairman Tersh Boasberg. “The property...is a real eyesore to the neighborhood and street—which is a special street. We are getting to the point where people are making reasonable efforts for this property."
Regardless, after nearly three hours of testimony and debate, the board unanimously passed a motion recommending that the plans be modified before they gain approval. Members felt that Follies' east wall needed to be shortened and set back from the street, and the side wing needed to be modulated, so as to not impact the light, feeling, and atmosphere of the Tabard Inn's well-loved historic dining room.
These modifications reflected not only HPRB staff reviewer Steve Callcott's recommendations, but also the concerns of the Dupont Circle Conservancy and the area's ANC. Dupont Circle residents (including Greater Greater Washington's David Alpert) all opposed the Follies on the basis of its impact on the Tabard Inn, arguing that "less bad does not equal good" for N Street and its alley.
ANC2B06 commissioner Mike Silverstein's testimony referenced DC Municipal Regulations applied specifically to the Dupont Circle overlay. Silverstein quoted Chapter 1501.4(e), which requires that areas planned as open gardens and backyards be preserved, with their light, air, and privacy protected. Silverstein told Housing Complex, "We've had issues where what was promised was not exactly what was delivered. These projects need to be held to certain standards."
CORRECTION: The HPRB's motion went against staff reviewer Steve Calcott's recommendation. Calcott supported Bender's drafted plans for the Follies as presented on May 27. The residents present opposed both Calcott and Bender.