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Action delayed on Yale Laundry

(Published February 28, 2000)

By OSCAR ABEYTA

Staff Writer

The growing dispute over a proposed new hotel on the site of the former Yale Steam Laundry at I-395 and New York Avenue NW has been postponed for a couple of months while the developer reconsiders aspects of the project.

The developer asked the Zoning Commission Feb. 14 to delay taking action on the proposal until May 7, after some area residents raised questions about the appropriateness and legality of building two 130-foot hotel towers in a historic neighborhood that is primarily 40-foot high townhouses.

The growing dispute, meanwhile, has started a debate among neighborhood groups that are lining up on both sides of the issue. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2C voted late last year to favor the project and the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Association voiced its support at a Feb. 15 meeting. Members voted 36-15 in favor of the hotel, according to association Vice-Chairman Maggie Limehouse. But the newly formed NoMa Neighborhood Association, made up of area residents north of Massachusetts Avenue, voted Feb. 21 to oppose the development, claiming the project would bring inappropriate high-density development to a primarily residential area.

In an interesting twist, the executive secretary of Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union Local 25 sent a letter to Planning Director Andrew Altman expressing the unionís opposition to the hotel. The letter listed the same zoning and housing concerns that the NoMa Neighborhood Association cited.

Michael Minkoff, a principal in the Yale Steam Laundry Partnership which owns the site, did not return several phone calls seeking comment.

The project is also under "large tract review" by the Office of Planning, which is intended to examine the myriad zoning issues involved in a project of this scale. The review will scrutinize zoning, historic preservation and housing requirements and how they fit into the cityís comprehensive plan. The project has already received concept approval from the Historic Preservation Review Board.

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator