59 Williams Street / 6 John Street
This week the HDC granted final approval to the major alterations at 59 Williams Street and created a sub-committee to oversee final construction details after months of reviews and revisions. PPS was pleased that a design solution was found that does not require on-site relocation of the Victorian cottage and that the addition is deferential to the cottage. PPS, neighbors, and commissioners voiced concern over aspects of the addition (to incorporate the existing garage and extend towards the street) and initial plans to replace the siding and windows of the historic cottage; the application was amended to restore the cottage.
We believe the HDC review process allowed for the project to improve significantly and provided a venue for concerned neighbors to voice concern. At this important location in the College Hill National Historic Landmark District, the HDC must ensure that the design is one that enhances, rather than detracts, from its surroundings. We believe they can do that, but more is needed.
The HDC staff report and current design can be found here.
Earlier this month, the HDC gave conceptual approval for an addition at 59 Williams Street, and it is now awaiting further review. As PPS urged in our letter to the HDC earlier this year, the Victorian cottage will not be relocated on site. Instead, the cottage will be modified in place and the addition will be built, incorporating walls of the existing four-bay garage previously approved for demolition, to the west of the historic building. A public HDC meeting for final approval for the project will be forthcoming.
These related projects in Fox Point have had a prolonged review process at the Historic District Commission since June — due in large part to the concern raised by neighbors about the effect of the proposals. As of the special HDC meeting this week, both items are continued. The development team has been urged to consider moving the 59 Williams addition wing (at right) to the to-be vacant lot where a non-contributing 4-bay garage stands now. This would eliminate the need to move the Victorian cottage — which the HDC is unconvinced is necessary.
The new construction of a double townhouse proposed at 6 John Street received preliminary feedback from the commission and public. Due to the topography of the site, PPS pressed for the need to see an elevation perspective including the neighboring properties, the Hoppin House on Benefit Street to the west and the Lippitt-Green House to the east, to understand how the new building will fit into John Street.
Another special meeting is expected to address these applications.
The HDC will host a virtual special meeting on Monday, October 5, to review the related proposals for 6 John Street and 59 Williams Street (at left). Agenda and log-on information will be posted here soon.
Action Item: Attend the virtual meeting and make a public comment, and/or submit a written comment by emailing HDC staff, Jason Martin.
The development team returned to the Historic District Commission in August with a redesign for the relocation and addition of the cottage at 59 Williams Street. While an improvement, PPS joined others in questioning the necessity of the relocation, albeit on site, of the cottage, which seems to not meet the HDC’s own standards and guidelines. The commissioners were receptive to the changes, but voted to again continue the project until September — at which point the developer can likely seek final, rather than conceptual, approval. The developer indicated that in September the HDC can also expect to review the new construction (a two-family townhouse) at 6 John Street.
The development team returns to HDC with a redesigned proposal for 59 Williams, involving the on-site relocation of the cottage, an addition, and a detached carport. You can find the HDC staff report and the applicant’s submission here.
To log onto the HDC meeting and provide public comment, see the instructions under Virtual Meetings.
7/28/2020 Update: After hearing from several concerned neighbors, the HDC voted yesterday to continue the application 59 Williams Street for the onsite relocation of a 19th c. cottage and the new construction of an addition and detached garage. The applicant is expected to return to HDC in August with a revised plan. The related proposal for new construction of a 2-family residence at 6 John Street is also expected to be on the August agenda.
7/27/20 Update: Later today, the Historic District Commission will consider conceptual approval for the onsite relocation of a Victorian cottage at 59 Williams Street plus new construction of an addition and detached two-bay garage. In June, the HDC granted approval for demolition for the existing four-bay garage. This application is related to proposed new construction at 6 John Street, which will be heard separately by HDC in August.
Scroll down on this site for the HDC agenda, meeting materials, and instructions for attending the virtual meeting.
Read PPS’s full statement about both proposals here.
Two related applications were continued at the June HDC meeting. PPS understands that the proposal for the onsite relocation of an existing cottage and new construction of an addition and garage at 59 Williams Street will be on the July HDC agenda. Demolition of the garage was the only item that was voted on and passed in June. The proposal for construction of a two-family residence at 6 John Street is expected to be continued until August. PPS and Ward 1 Councilman John Goncalves continue hear from and work with concerned neighbors.
Monday’s (7/13) Fox Point Neighborhood Association meeting (via Zoom) will feature a presentation by the project architect. We encourage all concerned citizens to attend. RSVP here.
Two items appeared on the June agenda of the Historic District Commission (HDC) that represent the breadth of activity that can take place in local historic districts: demolition, relocation, new construction, and additions to existing structures. The good news is that these parcels are within the College Hill Local Historic District and, therefore, these changes and other exterior alterations are reviewed and scrutinized by the HDC staff and commissioners.
The two related projects on John and Williams Streets have drawn much attention. At HDC, the development team received approval to demolish a 20th c. garage on Williams Street, but their application to relocate and add to the Victorian cottage on Williams Street and preliminary review of new construction on John Street were continued to the next HDC meeting. A discrepancy regarding the parcel map — from the CPC-approved resubdivision (March 2019) creating three lots from two — was the source of dispute.
PPS is working with concerned neighbors and elected officials to improve communication and understanding between the development team and abutting property owners.
We encourage you to read the HDC Standards and Guidelines to understand the major and minor alterations, site improvements, and more that are under the purview of the HDC.