Greater Greater Washington

Architecture


Spingarn streetcar barn design is fine, but not exemplary

Last night, DDOT released renderings of its design for the proposed Spingarn streetcar barn. The proposal is a passable building, but the design is likely to disappoint residents who'd been expecting great architecture.


Streetcar barn design. Image from DDOT.

DDOT originally wanted to locate the maintenance facility for its H Street streetcar under the Hopscotch Bridge, near Union Station. That proved impossible, so DDOT switched its plans to the most practical alternate site: the Spingarn High School campus.

Though the design lacks the ornament and detail of DC's historic streetcar barns, it is typical of contemporary institutional architecture, which is a step up from the bare bones necessary for industrial buildings.

In fact, this design looks very much like a modern school. If DCPS were building a new education building on the same site, it would probably look pretty similar, at least as seen from Benning Road. Adjacent residents likely won't feel they are living right next to an industrial facility.

However, it's not the sort of civic architecture that leaves much of an impression. Many cities' new car barns aren't good civic architecture either, but DDOT has been suggesting that this building would be better than merely okay.

The design guidelines call for "the highest aesthetic quality," and there's a lot that could be done to improve this building. Some of DC's new libraries show how civic buildings can indeed be exemplary.


Image from DDOT.

Some changes can improve the design

The primary purpose of the barn will be to park and maintain streetcars, but it will also include a training center, offices, and employee prep areas. One nice touch in the building design is that those non-industrial uses line Benning Road, so that from the sidewalk the upper floors of the building look like a school or office instead of a warehouse. Unfortunately, the ground floor is bare, so the illusion is incomplete.

Design guidelines call for public art to be included, and these renderings don't appear to have any. Perhaps that first floor wall would be a good location for a mural.

Another disappointing facet is the location of the public entry on the side rather than the front or corner, where most would expect it. The reason appears to be that the interior layout puts offices and a copy room at the street corner, pushing the entry back a few feet onto 26th Street. This seems needlessly confusing, and prioritizes the wrong function.

The Historic Preservation Review Board discussed the project on November 1. Their comments begin at the 2:00:00 mark on the archived video, and focus on whether or not a modern-looking building is appropriate, and whether the plan could be reduced to have less visual impact. They did not take any vote at that meeting, but will do so when they consider the landmark application for Spingarn later this month.

The streetcar project is important, and this car barn is good enough to not delay the project. But while this is pretty good for a building that's basically a garage, it could be much better. A car barn on the Spingarn campus makes sense, and this one isn't terrible, but residents asked for an exemplary building, and DDOT said it could deliver.

DDOT also needs to be more open to the public about its planning for the streetcar. These renderings came out at 4:30 pm the evening before a Presidential election. Given the concern neighbors have about the planning process for the car barn, DDOT must make every attempt to be as open as possible.

It's not necessary to completely start over, but some improvements do seem in order. Likewise, as DDOT starts to plan for future car barns in other neighborhoods, they shouldn't settle for "just okay."

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for the Arlington County Department of Transportation. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives a car-free lifestyle in Northwest Washington. His posts are his own opinions and do not represent the views of his employer in any way. He runs the blog BeyondDC and also contributes to the Washington Post Local Opinions blog. 
David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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the design is likely to disappoint residents who'd been expecting great architecture.

DC residents expecting great architecture are delusional. DC stands for bland and boring architecture. And that is mostly due to those same residents opposing anything exciting anyway they can, be it the ANCs, or the cascade of architectural and preservation boards that everything must pass. No design that must pass through so many boards can be exciting.

by Jasper on Nov 6, 2012 10:03 am • linkreport

Another disappointing facet is the location of the public entry on the side rather than the front or corner, where most would expect it. The reason appears to be that the interior layout puts offices and a copy room at the street corner, pushing the entry back a few feet onto 26th Street. This seems needlessly confusing, and prioritizes the wrong function.

I think you are misreading those floor plans. That is the 'first floor,' but the entrance at 26th and Benning is one level below that, labeled as the 'ground floor' and has two configuration options presented. The copy room would be one floor above the main entrance, and the mezzanine level would be one floor above that.

by Alex B. on Nov 6, 2012 10:04 am • linkreport

Jasper: DC residents expecting great architecture are delusional. DC stands for bland and boring architecture.

It doesn't stand for bland and boring streetcar barns though -- at least, it sure didn't in the past!

by iaom on Nov 6, 2012 10:14 am • linkreport

I think the residents opposed want to be dissappointed no matter what.

It's pretty good, and what Dan and David suggest is reasonable. If you're still really hung up on the fact that something is going to block your view of the side of a school then I don't know what to tell you.

by drumz on Nov 6, 2012 10:17 am • linkreport

1. The entrance should be Option B, with the entrance door in the middle of the entrance structure facing the corner where it interacts with the street.

2. The final building absolutely should include the large side windows seen in the picture in this article and on page 31 of the presentation. The blank face shown in the entrance renderings on 28-30 looks awful. And it would be really cool if that green space next to those windows offered a way to look inside and see what's going on!

3. This article could use some constructive suggestions - all I see here is the same kind of vague "not good enough" comments that people like the C100, HPRB, and others throw out to just bog processes down by sending them back to the drawing board again and again. I think this building reflects the same aesthetic the Anacostia and Shaw libraries do, and if they build it out of the right materials (brick, stone) it will look great.

Also one thing, all of DDOT's renderings show shadows cast as if the sun is to the north of the building - clearly wrong.

by MLD on Nov 6, 2012 10:19 am • linkreport

Opponents don't want the building at all. Who will be disappointed?

by William on Nov 6, 2012 10:19 am • linkreport

The pictures are from a birds-eye view are basically a lie. They show the school, but in fact from the street the school will be completely blocked -- which is the main objection to building on this site.

Then there is "adjacent residents likely won't feel they are living right next to an industrial facility." This would be risible if it wasn't such an outrageous lie -- with the cars coming and going all day long, this clearly will feel like and industrial facility. So the residents lose a nice yard with a view of a historic school, and gain noisy steetcars -- while across the street there is a 10,000 car parking lot that DC could not figure out how to obtain and use for this building.

This is a disaster.

by goldfish on Nov 6, 2012 10:21 am • linkreport

I think the residents opposed want to be dissappointed no matter what.

This residents will be happy if the damn thing was cited at RFK. They could put up a steel shed for all I care; just not in front of Spingarm.

And I am looking forward to streetcars, but not like this.

by goldfish on Nov 6, 2012 10:24 am • linkreport

Then there is "adjacent residents likely won't feel they are living right next to an industrial facility." This would be risible if it wasn't such an outrageous lie -- with the cars coming and going all day long, this clearly will feel like and industrial facility.

I'd be a little more sympathetic to this argument if there were more than a dozen people who lived anywhere near this site. Right now, the site's adjacent to a very small apartment complex, several auto shops, a completely vacant retail strip, several gas stations, an abandoned factory, two metrorail tracks, and a gigantic empty parking lot.

Benning Road *already* has an industrial character to it. This building may very well be the least industrial thing on that part of the street.

Get some perspective. "Cars coming and going all day long" sounds an awful lot like a street. Not a factory. The area is already a busy bus corridor, and is right next to the Orange Line. The streetcars will be significantly quieter than the buses and Metro trains.

by andrew on Nov 6, 2012 10:35 am • linkreport

Benning Road *already* has an industrial character to it. This building may very well be the least industrial thing on that part of the street.

Which is why the one remaining nice spot on this street should not be screwed up!

by goldfish on Nov 6, 2012 10:37 am • linkreport

This residents will be happy if the damn thing was cited at RFK. They could put up a steel shed for all I care; just not in front of Spingarm.

Now, I just don't believe this. The residents of this area have reliably opposed every kind of economic development proposed for decades. In fact, it is the only neighborhood (no, not Georgetown) to have successfully blocked the construction of a Metro station.

by andrew on Nov 6, 2012 10:38 am • linkreport

"with the cars coming and going all day long, this clearly will feel like and industrial facility. So the residents lose a nice yard with a view of a historic school, and gain noisy steetcars"

How about the old 14th street car barn in Brightwood? That one's surrounded by lovely homes and it seems to to just fine. As for the archtiecture being bland, it's not the most exciting think to be sure, but it's not horrible. Again, I point to that fine 14th street car barn to illustrate how lovely this building could be if modern architects would loosen up and have fun with decoration.

by Thayer-D on Nov 6, 2012 10:41 am • linkreport

@andrew, you can believe what you will. This resident -- me -- is not opposed to streetcars. Just bad decisions.

by goldfish on Nov 6, 2012 10:41 am • linkreport

No more industrial character but yet the building that everyone is concerned about has a smokestack.

by drumz on Nov 6, 2012 10:41 am • linkreport

I'm with Goldfish on this one. Why put in streetcar tracks if you're not hoping to rehabilitate the retail strip? In that sense I'm very disappointed with this design. What will people walking past this facility see? A big concrete area on the West (is this a car yard? it's not clear), and essentially a blank wall that isn't fenestrated until well above anyone's eye level. To me this looks terrible, and nothing like the November 1 announcement led me to believe.

I'm eager for the streetcars to start running, but this design really does lend credibility to those opposing this location for the facility. Bleagh.

by Lucre on Nov 6, 2012 10:53 am • linkreport

Hey, it looks good to me - I was picturing something a lot more warehouse-looking with no windows, huge, bland walls,surrounded by security fencing.

by MrTinDC on Nov 6, 2012 11:06 am • linkreport

I agree that this isn't a great design, but Goldfish is concern-trolling.

by andrew on Nov 6, 2012 11:45 am • linkreport

...concern-trolling

Not sure what it is you are accusing me of.

by goldfish on Nov 6, 2012 11:50 am • linkreport

"Right now, the site's adjacent to a very small apartment complex, several auto shops, a completely vacant retail strip, several gas stations, an abandoned factory, two metrorail tracks, and a gigantic empty parking lot."

And now, will likely will remain that way.

by Bob See on Nov 6, 2012 12:18 pm • linkreport

"And now, will likely will remain that way."

Ya think? I sure wouldn't pass on a well priced 2BR in a mixed use building with amenities cause it was across the street from the proposed car barn.

by EmptyNester on Nov 6, 2012 12:24 pm • linkreport

Just curious, but are there any examples of mixed-use car barns out there somewhere in the world?

It would be nice if the building engaged a little with the street, but since the area to the south will likely remain a massive parking lot (and is currently untouchable), and since there aren't any foot traffic magnets further east, it doesn't seem likely that the Springarn location would suddenly become a hotspot for new development if only there wasn't a car barn there....

I don't know, maybe we should just add a walmart mini to the roof of the proposed car barn and call it a day.

by Steven Harrell on Nov 6, 2012 12:45 pm • linkreport

This would be risible if it wasn't such an outrageous lie -- with the cars coming and going all day long, this clearly will feel like and industrial facility.

Won't streetcars be coming and going at that spot regardless of whether they terminate at a barn in front of Springarn or somewhere else? Are streetcars pulling into the barn noisier than streetcars making a stop and then continuing further down the line?

by Falls Church on Nov 6, 2012 1:04 pm • linkreport

I don't think they'll return to the barn at the end of every trip either. Makes more sense for them to just reverse direction at the end of the line.

If anything, the barn should actually be considerably quieter than the average stop.

by andrew on Nov 6, 2012 1:46 pm • linkreport

Not the greatest, but I like it. Let's start construction ASAP!

by H Street LL on Nov 6, 2012 1:59 pm • linkreport

It's incredible how today's architects not only cannot design a beautiful industrial building, but cannot even borrow a beautiful design from the past.

by Phil LaCombe on Nov 6, 2012 2:24 pm • linkreport

@Falls church: Are streetcars pulling into the barn noisier than streetcars making a stop and then continuing further down the line?

Let me first express my sincere thanks for pointing out an error in my reasoning -- you have advanced the discussion.

If there was no noise at all, this would still be an industrial use -- and all nearby residents will be painfully aware. Note the Pepco site just down the road, which has been shut down for years, is still an industrial use -- and looks and feels like it.

BTW, this site is zoned residential.

by goldfish on Nov 6, 2012 2:33 pm • linkreport

I used to live in baltimore in a former factory on the waterfront. There are former industrial properties in near SE DC, where you can rent a 1 br for I think, close to $3000 a month.

by EmptyNester on Nov 6, 2012 2:58 pm • linkreport

It's incredible how today's architects not only cannot design a beautiful industrial building, but cannot even borrow a beautiful design from the past.

A very hearty "seconded." I really don't understand - what's stopping modern architecture from basically recreating that from the past? Why can't the whole thing echo if not entirely mimic some of those older car barns? We used to do it right and we've got the models sitting right in front of us; what's stopping us from beauty?

by MetroDerp on Nov 6, 2012 3:32 pm • linkreport

Bland, but that beats much of what has been built in the past few decades. The use fits a lot of adjacent current uses and it won't distract from the school. Having once taught across the street from the "L" in Chicago (noisy, old, heavy rail), I suspect a school can co-exist with a car barn. It sounds like the neighborhood already has commercial and industrial uses and that some of them are useful (auto shops) and some not abandoned strips. The best "rehab" in DC has come organically based on small business and neighborhood need. Given the distance from major intersections, this is likely to always have uses that are more marginal or ancillary to the area than say some place closer to Benning/Maryland/H.

by Rich on Nov 6, 2012 4:46 pm • linkreport

what's stopping modern architecture from basically recreating that from the past?

by MetroDerp

Cost?
Environmental planning?

by Kev29 on Nov 6, 2012 6:48 pm • linkreport

"We used to do it right and we've got the models sitting right in front of us; what's stopping us from beauty?"

What's stopping us is architects who where taught that decoration is for sissys and beauty is weak. If you designed a traditional looking building in just about any architecture school, you'd get laughed at, and if you're trying to get a diploma, you learn to "love" modernist architecture.

You can design a modernist one, but not a traditional one. Never mind that people tend to prefer traditional styles or that modernism is now a historic style, or that you might have to design for a historic neighborhood in the future. There's this erroneous notion that it's impossible to be original in a traditional style, as if all the neo-modernist stuff nowadays was breathtakingly original. Forget how well it's built, or how well it solves the program, and most of all, forget how beautiful it might be, if it's traditional, it's bad.

Fix that and you'll get a lot better buildings for our resurgent cities, what ever style one preferes.

by Thayer-D on Nov 6, 2012 8:50 pm • linkreport

"The pictures are from a birds-eye view are basically a lie. They show the school, but in fact from the street the school will be completely blocked -- which is the main objection to building on this site." - Goldfish

That is not a lie in any way, shape, or form. Spingarn sits on a rather high hill. The carbarn is located at the bottom of the hill and they'll be digging down to keep the carbarn from blocking the view of Spingarn. What little the carbarn will hide is the unadorned side of the school. The facade of the school will still be in tact and not visually impaired.

by Notalie on Nov 7, 2012 4:42 pm • linkreport

@Notalie: this rendering is a streetview from the SE corner of the site. Spingarn is completely blocked. The view of this school from Benning will be blocked for most of the length of the site.

by goldfish on Nov 7, 2012 4:52 pm • linkreport

@Notalie: this is the @4%*! link: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/files/2012/11/spingarn2.jpg

by goldfish on Nov 7, 2012 4:53 pm • linkreport

So, your point is that a bird's eye view is not a view from the street?

How is that a lie?

by Alex B. on Nov 7, 2012 5:20 pm • linkreport

Spingarn is 500 feet from that corner; it's not like the building is right there and the barn covers it up:

http://goo.gl/maps/OBRF4

Not to mention the fact that in the rendering you clearly can see the school, it's behind the streecar stop.

by MLD on Nov 7, 2012 5:30 pm • linkreport

@Alex B, *I* labelled it correctly as a bird's eye view. In this contributed post, this rendering was a deceitfully placate the reader that the viewsheds of the school would not be affected.

by goldfish on Nov 7, 2012 5:31 pm • linkreport

MLD: again deceitful. That old library is a small fraction of the size of the maintenance shed.

by goldfish on Nov 7, 2012 5:33 pm • linkreport

Who said it was the same size as the library? I never said that.

What I was saying is, you make an argument as if Spingarn is right near that corner and dominating your field of vision. It is not and does not. AND in the rendering you linked to, you can see the damn school behind the car barn.

by MLD on Nov 7, 2012 5:40 pm • linkreport

@MLD: Spingarn is right near that corner and dominating your field of vision

Never said that. Spingarn is set high on a small hill, well back from the road, with neglected but what could be very beautiful grounds. I have written on this subject many times, as you may check that my views have been consistent: the problem with putting the maintenance shed here is that is destroys what should be a jewel, but despite its neglect, is the only nice thing on Benning Rd.

The rendering shows quite well that the viewshed from Benning Rd -- something that I look at every day, btw -- will be utterly ruined.

by goldfish on Nov 7, 2012 7:24 pm • linkreport

So nothing can be developed on that corner because you enjoy looking at a historic school?

I, for one, think the darn barn should conform to or at least evoke the architectural style of the other buildings on the site. The proposal looks like a crappy office building.

by 7r3y3r on Nov 8, 2012 12:44 am • linkreport

@7r3y3r: So nothing can be developed on that corner because you enjoy looking at a historic school?

Never said that either.

But I have to ask, do you go to this location much? Because looking around is key to understanding where I am coming from.

Next to this school is a run down but probably historic housing project, a tattered commercial strip with some boarded-up properties, the historic and protected golf course, and the ginormous and almost always empty RFK parking lot. The latte-sipping urban twits are full-on behind the streetcars as a part of tony gentrification of H St, which needs this maintenance barn. They want to build it on the only nice part of the street.

Politically, consider the symbolism of the sophisticated urban elite riding roughshod over what has been the lone worthy commitment from the city to this working-class neighborhood. All this so people will not need to drive or take a bus to the nightclubs on H St.

As a simple land-use exercise, consider the completely empty parking lot across the street. Everyone -- but everyone -- that knows this area suggests that this would a better place to put it. The only problem is that it will require the mayor to call in a favor from EHN to get this through Congress. Note that this has been done for the Metro (which also runs over this parking lot), so why not for a similar public transportation infrastructure? This suggests that the mayor really isn't behind this, which is not surprising considering that his base is mostly working-class whom do not see the need for streetcars.

Then there is the "educational component" for this barn. This is such jive that DDOT is no longer using this argument. Note that this area was originally intended for education (they built a school there), and is zoned residential. This should remain the purpose of this site. I, and I expect the other neighbors would fully accept an expansion of Spingarn or another school here. But not a streetcar shed!

I am in favor of streetcars, but many working class, long term residents see them as a waste of money. Building this barn here is a mistake.

by goldfish on Nov 8, 2012 10:27 am • linkreport

i live on Benning across from the proposed car barn site.

I think it would be far better to build the Car Barn down at the trash transfer site. It would allow far better access for the Orange Line passengers.

by pat b on Nov 8, 2012 11:48 pm • linkreport

goldfish,you're right, Langston Terrace is a historic property.

by Neil Flanagan on Nov 9, 2012 2:12 am • linkreport

"If there was no noise at all, this would still be an industrial use -- and all nearby residents will be painfully aware. Note the Pepco site just down the road, which has been shut down for years, is still an industrial use -- and looks and feels like it."

I am glad you abandoned your noise argument, Goldfish, since it confounded me if we presume streetcars will run down Benning eventually (not to mention the current heavy traffic). I am still confounded by the "look and feel" argument you offer above, however. How does a site "feel" industrial? As for whether the site "look(s)" industrial, would you feel better if the car barn architecture more closely resembled Springarn?

by wylie coyote on Nov 9, 2012 12:15 pm • linkreport

@wylie coyote (great name!): I admit that beauty counts -- if they were building the Taj Mahal, I think we would all just melt and say ok.

So I suppose the decision is, is what they are building as beautiful as the grass and potential educational use that is there now? This ain't close.

by goldfish on Nov 9, 2012 12:23 pm • linkreport

The fact that maintaining a view from the street of an old school is even a consideration in this discussion is absurd.

Also, love the inevitable bashing associated with progress ("latte-sipping", "urban elite"). I drink my coffee black and I am middle class.

Yes, your neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods are/were by and large run-down, and "tony gentrification" has made them nicer, and brought in more money (yes, much of that money is made in bars and nightclubs). The streetcar will likely aid in the continuation of that process. Let's call a spade a spade.

by adl on Nov 9, 2012 12:24 pm • linkreport

@adl: maintaining a view from the street of an old school is even a consideration

This is one of the things the Historic Preservation Review Board is required by law to consider. It is the basis for nearly all preservation efforts in DC.

bashing associated with progress... Please excuse my profane terminology. What I was attempting to do was contrast the needs and desires two socioeconomic groups by citing Courtland Milloy's well-known terminology. Regardless of my shortcomings, the message remains unimpeached: this is a classic conflict between the educated and connected, trampling on the less-well-off and disenfranchised. Ignore this at your peril.

by goldfish on Nov 9, 2012 12:45 pm • linkreport

If someone were being trampled, this discussion would not be ongoing. It would have happened by now.

Don't know who Courtland Milloy is, not sure I care.

You can impeach a message??

by adl on Nov 9, 2012 12:48 pm • linkreport

@adl: to get up to speed, start from here.

by goldfish on Nov 9, 2012 12:55 pm • linkreport

"The latte-sipping urban twits are full-on behind the
streetcars as a part of tony gentrification of H St,"

"All this so people will not need to drive or take a bus to the nightclubs on H St."

"I am in favor of streetcars,"

Hmmm?????

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 9, 2012 1:04 pm • linkreport

"Regardless of my shortcomings, the message remains unimpeached: this is a classic conflict between the educated and connected, trampling on the less-well-off and disenfranchised."

They can't be that badly off, if the view of the school is a top priority. I think dealing with unemployment, wages, health insurance and education (what happens INSIDE school walls) just might be more important - and the events of tuesday suggest that the latte sipping twits are mostly on the same side of those issues as the working class people of DC.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 9, 2012 1:09 pm • linkreport

@AWitC, as far as I am concerned, nothing has changed; I am not interested in debate for its own sake.

by goldfish on Nov 9, 2012 1:14 pm • linkreport

Really, how does improving *public* transportation infrastructure "trample" the "disenfranchised?" This service is going to be heavily subsidized by taxpayers (i.e. not the poor) and improves access for these neighborhoods to the rest of the city and to jobs downtown. The benefits to local H-street businesses are just a byproduct of what is planned as a city-wide system. For the same price of the agonizingly slow X2 (which will stay for more local trips), riders get a more comfortable, more direct, faster ride to a larger portion of the city without transfers, etc.

by Boris on Nov 9, 2012 2:50 pm • linkreport

@Boris: how does improving *public* transportation infrastructure "trample" the "disenfranchised?

Simple: because many? most? of these people must *drive* to their jobs. I drive. Because the streetcar will take away a lane on this important artery, it will slow auto traffic around this area.

by goldfish on Nov 9, 2012 2:59 pm • linkreport

Goldfish,

Don't you know by now that in GGW world, folks like yourself are supposed to move closer to your job so you can sell the car and become a true urbanist, or quit your job and find one closer?

I mean, geez...get with the program. Everyone obviously has these two options...right?

by driver on Nov 9, 2012 3:03 pm • linkreport

It's not taking away a lane. You can still drive in it. It's not much different that being stuck behind the x2 which many people must use to get to their job.

Besides, I thought you were just anti-springarn car barn and not anti-street car.

by drumz on Nov 9, 2012 3:12 pm • linkreport

drumz: I am in favor of the streetcars. I think they will add a lot to this city. But I can see how some people that must drive might think that by building them, this takes away money from other, more worthy transportation programs.

So yes, your initial impressions were correct: I just against putting this car barn in front of Spingarn.

by goldfish on Nov 9, 2012 4:27 pm • linkreport

You're in favor of streetcars, yet you're complaining about how they will slow down traffic (dubious if you include all users), and how they'll take away a lane (they aren't)?

Doesn't sound like it.

As for "most" of these people must drive to their jobs, DC residents who drive to their jobs are already a minority and the mayor's goal is to make the group that have to drive smaller by providing more options for everyone.

by MLD on Nov 9, 2012 5:00 pm • linkreport

@MLD: I was merely explaining some of the reasons why some people may oppose streetcars. And I would appreciate if you did not try to put words into my mouth.

by goldfish on Nov 9, 2012 5:31 pm • linkreport

I don't care what it looks like. Just build it already.

Also, who cares about blocking the view of springarn high school. It's a plain brick rectangle with windows. It has no aesthetic value whatsoever. These people like goldfish who are pretending to care about an empty field and the view of an unremarkable brick box are not fooling anyone. You just want to delay and obstruct the streetcar as long as possible because you don't want change in the neighborhood.

by Doug on Nov 11, 2012 1:19 pm • linkreport

@Doug: your assertion (it is not an argument) works both ways: some people like Doug are pretending to car about what is best for this city. But I am sure you do not agree with that.

by goldfish on Nov 11, 2012 4:14 pm • linkreport

Goldfish,
Didn't you say "...the streetcar will take away a lane on this important artery, it will slow auto traffic around this area." So the streetcar will make your life harder becasue you have to drive, but you support streetcars.
ok

by Thayer-D on Nov 11, 2012 8:28 pm • linkreport

@Thayer-D: Yes I think on Benning Rd and H St, the streetcar will slow traffic, more than the bus does. But my life involves more than driving.

by goldfish on Nov 11, 2012 8:53 pm • linkreport

I live in the apartment complex, that some of you are calling run-down, that is next to the proposed streetcar barn site. I am also part of the community of residents that oppose the streetcar barn being placed at its current proposed site in front of Spingarn.

First I am going to say that the apartments behind the proposed site were actually comprised of three complexes owned by three different property management groups. One complex was run-down because it was the oldest of the three and necessary renovations were neglected because of bad financial decisions and financial troubles from the previous property management. The apartments are now owned and being renovated by one of the neighboring property management groups.

Some people oppose the whole streetcar system project for various reasons, such as increased commuter traffic and longer wait times in traffic going in and out of the city. I would like to note that I don't have a driver's license or a car because WMATA provides ample, efficient (most times), and good quality (most times) taxpayer and government subsidized public transportation, that is much cheaper than the cost of owning and maintaining a car.
There is nothing that can be done to stop the streetcar system from returning to DC because the mayor is behind and supports the idea and project. People that oppose the whole streetcar system are fighting a battle they can’t win and should give up. Some people oppose car barns in the city no matter where they are. Again these people are fighting a battle they can't win for the reasons stated in the previous paragraph, and the fact that the streetcars have to be housed somewhere and Maryland will most likely not allow all of them if any to be housed in their state.

We (the community that I am a part of that opposes the streetcar barn being placed in front of Spingarn) propose that it be placed either behind the PEPCO facility and next to, if not on the trash transfer site or on RFK's parking lot, which as goldfish stated would require the mayor to call in a favor from EHN to get it through Congress, which the mayor currently is not willing to do.

The problem with this whole project (as many of you have mentioned) is that it creates a socioeconomic class conflict throughout the city. The street car system project came about because the city is being gentrified and the mayor and the city's small business owners, developers, and elite residents want to boost tourism and cash flow to the city.

This can be hard to do while at the same time taking care to maintain the city's historicity and provide the city's middle and working class residents (that pay taxes at higher rates) with affordable housing options, and necessary public services, such as public transportation, affordable and good quality health services, and affordable and good quality public education.

A compromise has to be made or DC will become an east coast Hollywood, or a new Manhattan, and DC's suburbs become a new south side Chicago or east cost Compton in the 1980's and 1990's.

by thebigO on Nov 12, 2012 12:15 pm • linkreport

So uh, why do you oppose the site at springarn then?

by drumz on Nov 12, 2012 5:22 pm • linkreport

I don't agree with your assertion that the barn should be placed elsewhere, thebigO, but otherwise that was a wonderful post.

by H Street LL on Nov 13, 2012 9:14 am • linkreport

Except that the post implies that a compromise would prevent the result it fears - if the street car is making DC into Manhattan (almost certainly incorrect - its larger market forces that are doing it) then its unlikely that moving the mtnce facility to RFK instead of Springarn will stop that.

Whether a simple call to ELN would get permission for the RFK use, in a timely fashion, I do not know.

I also doubt that most users of the street cars will be tourists.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 13, 2012 9:27 am • linkreport

"The problem with this whole project (as many of you have mentioned) is that it creates a socioeconomic class conflict throughout the city. The street car system project came about because the city is being gentrified and the mayor and the city's small business owners, developers, and elite residents want to boost tourism and cash flow to the city."

where does that tax flow go? What services does it mostly finance, and who uses those services?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 13, 2012 9:28 am • linkreport

@drumz I oppose the site a Spingarn for three reasons.

1. Zoning: Spingarn and the surrounding area is zoned for residential use. I am pretty sure an exception was probably given to DDOT by the zoning office and board.

2.Aesthetics: Too many industrial use and industrial looking buildings near and around residential property does not look good.

3.Health: Any possible pollution, whether it be noise pollution or emissions (such as fumes released into the air when machinery is used to heat and burn metals to repair parts) can create noise and health issues for the residents.

RFK or PEPCO is not that much farther from the residential property than Spingarn, but it's still not as close. It is possible for even green energy industrial buildings to have some harmful carbon emissions, just not as much as non-green energy industrial buildings.

Spingarn and Browne Education Campus are both also on the unofficial DCPS 2012-2013 school closure list that was leaked to the public in late September. The official list is supposed to be made public within the next two weeks at public hearings at the Wilson Building on November 15 and 19.

If Spingarn and Browne are in fact going to be on the official list and are in fact going to close, what benefits would using the Spingarn site have. The benefit that DDOT currently is advocating as justification for using Spingarn is a training center for Spingarn's students that is supposed to train and employ only 35 people. If the school closes then this benefit might transfer to Phelps, and if not there would not be much benefit to use Spingarn instead of PEPCO or RFK.

by thebigO on Nov 13, 2012 2:21 pm • linkreport

@AWlakerInTheCity I have no idea where the tax flow from the project will go, what services it will mostly finance, and who would uses those services? I have not found any documentation in my research on the project where DDOT or the mayor has answered those questions. The info may exist, but I have not found it yet. For all I know the tax flow could go in the city's general fund, and if that happens the tax flow would be pretty much be untraceable.

by thebigO on Nov 13, 2012 2:31 pm • linkreport

What I meant was where do most of the Districts general funds go? I suspect the largest single thing the district spends on is education, and that no small amount are spent on social and employment services.

I think the notion that trying to increase development, and accompanying taxes, is a 'war on the poor' is silly. I don't think slowing development, or fighting a proposal because its likely to increase property values and hence tax revenues, does the poor any favors.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 13, 2012 2:42 pm • linkreport

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