She disappeared into the night before I could get a name but this woman drew applause at Wednesday night’s design review meeting for the project that will raze 1650 Olive Way E, the current home of B&O Espresso.
“Don’t mess with the B&O!” she yelled for her contribution to the public comment portion of the night’s meeting. “Why not just leave it alone?”
The bad news for this woman and others who voiced their support for B&O during the night is it’s not just the B&O making way — the entire block including the apartment building behind it will all be demolished to make room for a 75-unit apartment complex, a restaurant/cafe space and about 70 underground parking stalls. Tonight’s meeting was to determine the requirements for the design of the building that will replace it.
UPDATE 2: The design plan was sitting out there under our noses all along. Finally tracked it down on the DPD site. Here’s the PDF and a few select images. Option 3, on the left is the design the developers are positioning as ‘preferred.’ Option 2, middle, was positioned as the back-up while Option 4, right, was, as I note elsewhere in the report, shown only to let us know how bad it *could* be.
UPDATE 1: Vlad’s request in comments reminds me of something I meant to note — NK hasn’t made the designs available online so I’ll need to get something from them tomorrow. Design review post without design is lacking, no?
Slog’s report from today on issues around the project has this image of the preferred option. There are two other similar designs under consideration — one is much more modern, the other is a huge stucco monstrosity surely included to make you appreciate the other two.
Beyond the “just leave it alone” feedback, comments focused on the inappropriately modern feel of the preferred design, shallow setbacks blocking light and concern about pedestrian safety on Olive. And, of course, the key question — what is the plan for retail in the project? Or, in other words, will B&O still have a home? Brandon Nicholson of NK Architects provided a diplomatic answer — all design options include plans for restaurant or cafe use of the 4,500-6,000 sqft. retail space. No word, of course, how the design will go toward guaranteeing rent at a level B&O can afford. That’s a job no design firm can complete.
B&O owner Majed Lukatah was in attendance but didn’t speak during the public comment period. Neither did his landlord, the building’s owner John Stoner. But Stoner was implored by an audience member to address the crowd after the public comment period. He stood up and defended the building’s more modern design. “I like Capitol hill. I want it to keep its character. Part of its character is a lot of different styles.” Stoner also decided to do an impromptu show of hands for how long everybody had lived on Capitol Hill which quickly disolved into raised voices. “How long have YOU lived on Capitol Hill?” neighborhood activist Dennis Saxman shot back. It went quickly downhill from there.
As the design review panel deliberated after the public comment portion, a few representatives from 1650choices.org and neighbors who live near the project buttonholed Stoner. I decided to talk with B&O’s Lukatah. “That woman has been coming in for 30 years,” he said of the shouting woman. “She used to bring her kids in.” He said he was happy to have the support — “it was nice to see” — but didn’t answer my questions about the status of plans for a B&O opening in the old Dilettante space on Broadway.
As for the project, even as the design review nears completion some three years into the process, Nicholson said there’s no solid timeline for construction. Sounds like B&O won’t be messed with anytime soon.