Connecticut Ave. NW Development Too Dense for Neighborhood, Residents Say
Residents say the tall building planned for the vacant lot on Connecticut Avenue NW between Military Road and Kanawha Street is incompatible with the neighborhood.
A tall apartment building planned for Connecticut Avenue NW at Military Road has been in the works for years, but that hasn't softened the attitudes of many Chevy Chase, DC, residents toward the development, which—they say—is incompatible with the site.
The property—at 5333 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC—is owned by Calvin Cafritz Enterprises and has been zoned for dense development for more than 30 years, WJLA reported.
The 5333 Connecticut Avenue Coalition's website includes an image of what developers are planning for the property. From the illustration, the building appears to be nine or 10 stories tall. (The site is zoned to allow a 90-foot-tall residential building, The Washington Post reported.)
Other tall apartment buildings line Connecticut Avenue NW near this vacant lot, but some nearby residents say that, given the unusual depth of the lot, the tall, glassy building (and its 173-space parking garage, The Northwest Current reported) would overwhelm the neighborhood of single-family houses surrounding the eastern portion of the lot.
"Its mass is on two small side streets and not on Connecticut Avenue at all and I think that's a main concern of all of us," local resident Rocco Ruggieri told WJLA.
"The proposed 263-apartment building will stretch down the side streets of Military and Kanawha, creating substantial parking, traffic, light, and pedestrian safety issues," the 5333 Connecticut Avenue Coalition stated on its website.
Others say the building is too modern-looking—too much like a K Street NW building, Curbed reported.
But, "Jane L. Cafritz, partner with her husband Calvin in the development business, said the building at 5333 Connecticut Ave. NW would 'reflect our contemporary times' just as other Connecticut Avenue buildings represent earlier design eras," The Post reported.
Additional concerns exist about the traffic that could be generated by the building's residents, and about whether or not Military Road could handle the extra traffic, WJLA added.
The 5333 Connecticut Avenue Coalition details more concerns—including concerns regarding trees, the density of the site and light problems for adjacent residents—in the "Project Impact" section of its website.
Local residents also say that they have not been given ample opportunity to comment on the project, according to the Ward3DC blog.
"The developers behind the project, Calvin Cafritz Enterprises, received approval 22 years ago and feel strongly that they don't need to do anything else before proceeding (soil testing has already begun and they're filing permits for more substantial work to begin in August)," Curbed added.
A Jan. 2 letter from the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to the Chevy Chase, DC Advisory Neighborhood Commission "pointed out that because 5333 Connecticut Avenue is considered a 'matter-of-right' project, it needs no zoning approval nor is there a 'statuary requirement for ANC review and/or approval of the proposed building plans,' " The Georgetown Dish reported.
In response to residents' concerns, Ward 3 DC Council Member Mary Cheh is holding a public forum about the development on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 7:30 p.m. at the Chevy Chase Community Center (5601 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC).
Cafritz representatives are expected to attend the forum, The Northwest Current reported on Jan. 16 (Vol. 7, No. 3, page 3, available for download on the newspaper's website).
Read more about the development controversy: