GDS high-rise plans are wrong for Tenley
An Aug. 19 Viewpoint piece by Ward3Vision’s chair Susan Kimmel lauded Georgetown Day School for its “thoughtful” conception of a pedestrian staircase marked by flower boxes proposed to link Wisconsin Avenue and 42nd Street between the two high-rise, 340-unit apartment towers that are a major part of its massive development plan.
Yes, it would be “thoughtful” to open up what might otherwise be a solid wall of brick and windows rising 90 feet high on the former Martens Volvo and Volkswagen site along the Wisconsin Avenue side and an even higher 104 feet along 42nd Street.
It would be even more thoughtful if GDS lowered the heights of its proposed residential building to “protect the character of our residential neighborhoods” (a phrase taken from Ward3Vision’s 59-word mission statement) and if GDS conformed its ambitions to those stated in the D.C. Comprehensive Plan. The document’s intent for this section of Wisconsin Avenue is clear: "The scale and height of new development on the corridor should reflect the proximity to single family homes, as well as the avenue’s intended function as the neighborhood’s main street. This means an emphasis on low- to mid-rise mixed use buildings rather than high-rise towers or auto-oriented strip development." (See Policy RCW-2.2 Wisconsin Avenue Corridor)
As for the staircase connecting GDS to its eastern neighbors, it’s true that it would allow a glimpse of school grounds. However, the neighbors on the other three sides of the campus will still contend with chain-link fences and limited access points to school grounds that discourage kids from using their feet and their bikes to get to their classes and encourage drivers to drop off students at unauthorized locations.