New dorm nears approval

GW is one step closer to building an F Street residence hall, following city officials’ initial approval Monday for the facility’s construction.

With a unanimous vote, the D.C. Zoning Commission gave preliminary consent to build the 379-bed hall, which would be erected on the 2000 block of F Street next to Francis Scott Key Hall in the next few years. In order to accommodate D.C. zoning laws, GW scaled back the height of the hall from 120 feet to 90 feet in October, which zoning officials called “acceptable.”

The National Capital Planning Commission will now have 30 days to decide whether the 10-story hall will adversely affect the Foggy Bottom neighborhood.

University Senior Counsel Charles Barber said he does not expect the commission to impede construction of the hall. If capital planning officials approve the hall, the zoning commission will then need to grant GW a building permit and approve the dormitory’s design before the University can break ground.

“This was an important vote but not the final vote,” Barber said.

Construction could begin as early as next semester and is set to be completed by fall 2006, if GW gets District and federal officials to approve the plan.

Some Foggy Bottom residents opposed to the construction said the new building would disrupt traffic. Last month, the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, which counsels city officials on community issues, voted three to one to reject the hall.

David Lehrman, the only ANC member who supports the construction of a new hall, said he sees “only positives” in building a new on-campus housing facility.

“The University is under pressure to house as many students as it can,” Lehrman said. “Almost any place they suggest is shot down. It’s a good place for a dorm because it’s mostly students living in the area anyway.”

Last year, the District’s Board of Zoning Adjustment mandated that GW house 70 percent of its undergraduate population on campus by fall 2006. If completed on schedule, the new F Street hall, along with the soon-to-be-completed Ivory Tower, would bring GW much closer to meeting the BZA requirements. Currently, 56 percent of students reside on campus.

While Lehrman applauded GW for working with his group, Foggy Bottom Association President Ronald Cocome said the University has not cooperated with local residents.

Although he does not oppose building a new on-campus residence hall, Cocome said GW did not make its construction plans known in a 2000 campus plan filed with the city.

“It’s been one half-truth after another,” Cocome said. “It’s not just scheming, it’s outright lying. I can’t imagine a worse neighbor. It would be better to live next to a steel mill.”

-Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report.

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