901 Monroe St NE Development Update

We are currently in a holding pattern, awaiting changes to the District of Columbia’s Comprehensive Plan, for updates to the Future Use Land Map, which would allow for our proposed ‘Ravenna at Brookland Station’ project to be built.

In the interest of providing a transparent and factual understanding of what has happened with the project over the last 10 years, the Menkiti Group and Horning Brothers team provide the following detailed overview of the 901 Monroe Street NE project. 

A description of the project and proposed renderings of the design may be found here.

Initial Phases/Background

  • The existing zoning designation at 901 Monroe Street NE is inconsistent with current urban planning and transit-oriented development concepts which are expressly designed to enhance American cities and neighborhoods. The existing zoning designation is especially problematic when considering the site’s proximity to Metro and its position along a major commercial corridor.
  • Members of the Brookland community and DC Office of Planning spent 3-5 years developing the Brookland/CUA Metro Station Small Area Plan which was approved by the DC Council in 2009. This plan called for increased density on the 901 Monroe Street NE site along with greater connectivity between the east and west sides of the rail tracks. The plan contemplates buildings of greater density and height than allowed by existing zoning.

Timeline/Progress + Milestones

  • Over the course of more than 40 community meetings in 2011 and 2012, the Menkiti Group and Horning Brothers team proposed a project designed in keeping with the Small Area Plan. Any proposed development exceeding one-story required modification of the underlying zoning designation. In this case, we pursued approval of a Planned Unit Development process (PUD) by the Zoning Commission, which is a public process designed to ensure that neighborhood residents and the surrounding community are thoughtfully considered and provided with tangible community benefits.
  • Over the course of many additional meetings and conversations with community members, the Menkiti Horning team significantly modified the proposed PUD to accommodate neighborhood feedback.
  • The PUD was approved unanimously by the Zoning Commission in 2012.
  • The PUD was appealed, and the Court of Appeals requested that the Zoning Commission clarify the published PUD approval order regarding medium vs. moderate density projects.
  • The PUD was again approved unanimously by the Zoning Commission in 2013.
  • The PUD was appealed a second time, at which time the Court of Appeals suggested that the Zoning Commission process was broken, and that the Zoning Commission needed to be more thorough and clearer in its process of writing PUD approval orders.
  • The PUD was once again approved unanimously by the Zoning Commission in 2015.
  • The PUD was appealed a third time. The Court of Appeals appeared to be moving to remand the PUD to the Zoning Commission yet again. However, our attorney specifically requested that they not remand the case but render a final decision.

    In 2016, The Court of Appeals responded by overturning the Zoning Commission’s Order, thus vacating the original and all successive PUD approvals.
  • Since 2016, a wave of similar appeals has swept across the District, affecting other significant development projects in the city, including the nearby $720M McMillan Sand Filtration Plant redevelopment. See this July 2017 article from BISNOW.

What needs to happen for the 901 Monroe project to move forward?

  • Also in 2016, a formal Comprehensive Plan Amendment cycle was initiated by the Office of Planning. As part of this process, more than 3,000 public comments were submitted. In March 2018, the DC Council held a hearing to capture public testimony regarding the Comprehensive Plan and nearly 300 members of the community testified in a record session that lasted more than 13 hours. Members of the Menkiti Horning team testified in support of proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments.
  • In the Fall of 2018, the DC Council delayed the Comprehensive Plan Amendment discussion that would in turn update the now outdated Future Land Use Map. The DC Council has committed to address the Comprehensive Plan Amendment process in an upcoming legislative session in 2019. See this January 2019 article from Washington Business Journal.
  • Through all this a vacant property lies wasting away at a key location in one of DC’s great neighborhoods.

Happening at the site now:

  • For the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Monroe Street Bridge Project to be completed efficiently, the DDOT contractor required an adjacent staging location for construction equipment and materials. The Menkiti Horning team has temporarily leased space to Fort Myer Construction for the duration of the bridge reconstruction project.  We have no information on the duration or

The Menkiti Horning team remains committed to turning the vacant property at 901 Monroe St NE into a vibrant project. Future updates will be posted here and on our Facebook page.