Housing Complex

Brookland Project Shrinks Down

In response to vocal neighbors opposed to the size of a mixed-use project on Monroe Street NE near the Brookland/CUA Metro stop, developers have significantly scaled back a new set of plans for their second submission to the Zoning Commission.

The project, a partnership between the Menkiti Group, Horning Brothers, and the owner of Colonel Brooks Tavern, originally had 221 residential units with a floor area ratio of 3.71. That's been pared down to 212 apartments—most of which will be one-bedrooms or smaller, targeting young urban professionals—at a floor area ratio of 3.28, with the building's massing stepping down to meet townhouses alongside it.

That's the biggest thing that's been done to appease nearby residents, who are jittery about a development that will add significant density to the otherwise sleepy area. But as project team member Bo Menkiti explained at a community meeting on the subject last night, they've taken care to blend it as much as possible with the surrounding area, using similar materials and mansard roof shapes. A major amenity is the wider sidewalks created by 15-foot setbacks around the property. "One of the things we're trying to do with the project is give private land to the public realm," Menkiti said.

Of course, that's not enough for some anti-density activists, who are still insisting that the buildings housing Colonel Brooks Tavern be preserved. One even asked whether the development team would help him advocate for the maintenance of a grassy field right next to the metro station as green space. Fortunately, that wouldn't jibe with the small area plan that's been approved for the area, so Menkiti didn't even have to say he wouldn't.

  • Josh

    This project will be a great addition to our neighborhood. This location is literally as close as you can get to the Brookland station without being on WMATA land. And with the CUA and EYA projects well underway, 901 Monroe will make a great mixed-use transit-oriented connection between the east and west sides of the tracks.

    Capitulating to the handful of people who consistently oppose every proposed development in Brookland, would be a travesty. The development team has done a good job of modifying their plans in response to neighborhood concerns. There are still a few details to work out, but continuing to downscale in an attempt to appease a few people who will never be happy, would be unwise.

  • David

    Well said Josh. If this project doesn't move forward we are doomed in Brookland to another 30 years of no progress in this neighborhood.

    More density equals safer streets.

  • Candie

    Thank you Josh and David for articulating how I feel about this fantastic project.

    I agree, the development team has clearly gone out of their way to appease the naysayers. At this point those against this project are the same people that are clearly against any and all change; no matter how benificial to the Brookland community. They will never be happy and will continue to hold up any positive changes to the community.

    Personally I'm of the opinion that around a metro we should, "pack'em in and build it tall." But this new plan is a great compromise that will serve the community well for many years to come.

    I look forward to similar positive development in our community.

  • wardocinco

    Yet another ANC 5A resident chiming in here...kudos to Menkiti for their patience and flexibility towards Greater Brookland's anti-change constituency. They are vocal, but they don't represent most of our residents. Our family is excited about this new project and looking forward to the increased foot traffic and retail it will bring to the neighborhood. Very appreciative of the new set-backs, too, which will help maintain the architectural integrity of the area. Hope this can move forward soon.

  • Les

    What are the new plans for retail? The previous plan included a Bus Boys & Poets. I hope this new plan includes it also. I would still like to see the two historic buildings on the site preserved. Would be nice if some creative persons could come up with designs, even make it a design contest.

  • Dan

    Les,
    Every developer in DC promises something like, "oh we could have something like a Busboys and Poets on the first floor of FILINTHEBLANQUE TOWERS." That doesn't necessarily mean we're part of Busboys' plan. But some restaurant space was definitely mentioned. I think talk of B&P was just neighborhood rumor.
    That said, I'm happy to hear of this latest development. And I take a more sanguine view about neighborhood involvement in engaging with development. It's not all bad and neither is getting developers to be accountable to the needs of a neighborhood. Newer people seem to forget if it wasn't for neighborhoods like Brookland, their houses would've been in the way of the interstate that was stopped 40 years ago (next year). But they're not interested in that history.
    It's all about striking a balance. And with this project it sounds like that is exactly what has happened.

  • Chris

    I think the development looks and sounds great. I am moving into the new EYA development soon, and I have followed all of the Brookland development stories closely for the past year. There does seem to be a very vocal anti-development fringe that will never, ever be happy. I predict that, once EYA, ABDO, and this project are complete, most of that minority will be thrilled with results.
    There is a lot of energy in Brookland now, and the infusion of the new blood will significantly improve the neighborhood. Yes, parts are sleepy and charming, and I don't want those to change. Other parts are neglected. It's the latter parts that will be helped by increased traffic and business in the area.

  • Les

    Dan,
    The developers gave a presentation including BB&P in their project. They made it seem like it was a certainty, to replace Colonel Brooks. I've been to both and BB&P offers many of the same items than Brooks but they taste a lot better.

    I heard someone is writing a book to include the past history and modern history of Brookland. I'm looking forward to reading it.

  • tom veil

    I'm disappointed in these developers for giving in and shrinking their project. But really, the shame should fall on the whiners and whingers who seem to think that they live in some Amish commune and not in a city.

  • Keon

    I agree with everyone. I'm excited for the prospect of this project moving forward. I'm most disappointed to lose Col. Brooks not the building but I expect this loss will be filled many times over by whatever replaces it and the ABDO project.

    Now can we get an update on Abdo??

  • Lucas

    Count me as another resident who believes that development will cut down on the crime in Brookland. More people on the streets, enjoying the neighborhood and new businesses will result in fewer early evening muggings and a safer walk to and from Metro.

  • Scott

    I don't think you can completely fault the neighbors in the delay on this project. When a developer tries to plop in a building almost identical to one built in another neighborhood and call it "designed to blend with historic Brookland" or whatever, it's a little disingenuous I think. (Check out the Whitman at 9th and M Streets and compare) The original was cookie-cutter and a little hasty. I think this give-and-take with the community is a positive process that will result in a building that will make the developer money while still making the neighbors happy. Let's ride it out, reach a compromise, and enjoy the result!

    That said, the changes to the original plan make a world of difference and really help blend what is a HUGE building into the rest of the block. I only wish they would change the style of the building half way down the block on Monroe (while keeping it the same size) so that it would look like two separate smaller buildings as opposed to one giant new one. The buildings going up in Takoma Park now are like that and it really helps blend the large building with the surrounding smaller ones.

  • Pete

    I'm also in favor of density around the metro area - and we're clearly going to get it - but don't think that means you have to sacrifice every other value. I think the reduced size and setbacks are probably a good response to neighbor's concerns; not so sure about setting a precedent with zoning change that would allow for 90 foot buildings. And the "grassy field" you dismiss is actually a lovely grove of mature trees between 10th St. and the Metro parking lot - something that would be well worth saving and incorporating into the housing planned for the area around the metro stop - will be a great place for all those new residents to hang out in with their neighbors.

  • Kelly

    Count me as another fan of the "grassy field adjacent to the Metro Station." It hurts when you put it into italics as if it's ridiculous. As Pete noted, said field is really a grove of mature trees. this has a number of mature trees. It also abuts the Brooks Mansion. Moreover, said grove is a little small for any development -- about 200' by 100' -- and considerably smaller than the tree grove at the Takoma Park Metro station. Nobody seems to mind the Takoma Park Grove.

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