Developers hope to construct Marriott near E Street

by Kaitlyn Jahrling

Developers hope to begin construction this June on a Courtyard Marriott to replace the Colonial Parking garage near 20th and E streets, but they are having a hard time persuading Foggy Bottom residents to support the proposed hotel's design.

Representatives from Marriott and Steven Gewirz, the son of the owner of the Colonial Parking garage, presented plans to demolish the parking garage and build the hotel in its place at last week's meeting of the Foggy Bottom Advisory Neighborhood Commission, a local board that makes zoning recommendations to the city.

The four commissioners present voted unanimously on a resolution that opposed the project pending a transportation study; the resolution also calls for negotiations with the project heads and the delay of a D.C. zoning hearing from March to April.

Project architect Eric Liebmann explained the design to commission members at the meeting last week and said the hotel will not resemble the Courtyard Marriotts of suburbia, but instead will be designed to create a "high-class" atmosphere.

"I think it's going to be a particularly elegant design," he said, adding that the current garage is an "eyesore" on the street.

After hearing the plans, ANC commissioners and community members, however, faulted the design for not having a driveway for cabs, building the hotel right up to the sidewalk and being too tall.

"You should be aware that there are thousands of pedestrians," former ANC chair and resident Elizabeth Elliot said, referring to the lack of a driveway in the design.

Elliot also added that the hotel would be a disturbance to the neighborhood.

"It's really going to reduce the quality of life for Statesman and The York," Elliot said, referring to nearby apartment buildings. Elliot was also concerned that the new Marriott would make 20th Street even noisier. "There's a huge noise corridor," she said.

ANC Chair Vince Micone echoed some of Elliot's concerns and said that there would have to be design changes before the commission would support the project. Though the city does not have to follow the commission's recommendations, it takes them into consideration.

"I want to make sure that we don't have a noisy canyon where we created limited ways for light to get in," he said.

GW junior Max Kanin expressed his concern about using the sidewalk during and after construction to get to class in the 1957 E Street academic building and the dormitory next door.

"I think it's going to be a particularly elegant design," he said, adding that the current garage is an "eyesore" on the street.

After hearing the plans, ANC commissioners and community members, however, faulted the design for not having a driveway for cabs, building the hotel right up to the sidewalk and being too tall.

"You should be aware that there are thousands of pedestrians," former ANC chair and resident Elizabeth Elliot said, referring to the lack of a driveway in the design.

Elliot also added that the hotel would be a disturbance to the neighborhood.

"It's really going to reduce the quality of life for Statesman and The York," Elliot said, referring to nearby apartment buildings. Elliot was also concerned that the new Marriott would make 20th Street even noisier. "There's a huge noise corridor," she said.

ANC Chair Vince Micone echoed some of Elliot's concerns and said that there would have to be design changes before the commission would support the project. Though the city does not have to follow the commission's recommendations, it takes them into consideration.

GW junior Max Kanin expressed his concern about using the sidewalk during and after construction to get to class in the 1957 E Street academic building and the dormitory next door.

"Is it possible to keep, if not the whole sidewalk open, at least a portion of the sidewalk?" Kanin asked at the meeting.

Whayne Quin, the parking garage owner's attorney, said at the meeting that everything the project team presented is legally permissible, though they would try to work with the community in changing the design.

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