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This Building Could Tear Apart Chevy Chase

A planned apartment building in upper Northwest DC is drawing ire from many of its future neighbors.

Rendering courtesy of Cafritz.

There’s a storm churning in one of Northwest DC’s leafiest neighborhoods over a planned apartment building. The proposed complex, set to be built at 5333 Connecticut Ave., NW by Calvin Cafritz Enterprises, would add 263 new housing units to Chevy Chase.

District officials signed off on construction permits back in May, but many of the building’s future neighbors quickly objected. Chevy Chase is a neighborhood full of houses and older apartment buildings, not the glass-and-steel kind that Cafritz is proposing. A group called the 5333 Connecticut Neighborhood Coalition formed to oppose the building and set about appealing the permit process.

The local advisory neighborhood commission also had some thoughts. As Washington Business Journal reports, the ANC and Cafritz negotiated to modify several of the planned building’s elements:

In the intervening two months, members of the ANC negotiated, to the surprise of many, a “memorandum of understanding” with Cafritz, in which the landowner agrees to embark on a “major redesign,” reduce the height of the building by two feet, install a circular driveway, provide 40 additional parking spaces, install additional landscaping, provide two car-share spaces and a Capital Bikeshare station and include a slate of sustainability features—green roof technology, plantings, Energy Star appliances, and so on.

Neighborhood commissioners approved the redesign at a meeting Tuesday night, a decision that sent the building’s opponents into a tizzy. Now, according to a recap by the Georgetown Dish, members of the 5333 Connecticut Neighborhood Coalition are complaining that Cafritz’s planned development is driving a post-modern wedge through the Chevy Chase community. They’re also distributing fliers calling the proposed modifications “lipstick on a pig.”

The District’s Board of Zoning Adjustment will review the proposed modifications on Sept. 24, but they might not have to be implemented. The ANC’s participation in the negotiations is non-binding. Meanwhile, the coalition opposing the new apartment building continue to call it an “illegal” addition to the neighborhood.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.