Study Likely to Recommend Few Changes to D.C. Height Limits

A congressionally mandated study into potentially altering D.C.'s Height of Buildings Act of 1910, which has kept the city's skyline uniquely low, will recommend small tweaks to the rules and further study of relaxing limits outside downtown.
September 12, 2013, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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A draft of National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) Executive Director Marcel Acosta's preliminary findings on altering Washington D.C.'s Height Act has been released in advance of a public comment period, and the results are less than what many had hoped for

"In his report to NCPC [PDF], executive director Marcel Acosta will recommend against raising the height limit significantly downtown, but will suggest changing the rules regarding rooftop penthouses," writes Dan Malouff. "Acosta will also recommend that NCPC further consider raising the height limit for areas outside downtown, where the impact on the monumental core would be negligible."

Writing in the Washington City Paper, Aaron Wiener rues the recommendations as a missed opportunity. "Acosta's conclusions are sure to please fans of D.C.'s low-slung skyline. But they won't please everyone. For instance, me." Ho goes on to outline five reasons why he thinks Acosta's arguments are "dead wrong". 

Of note, these recommendations represent an evaluation of federal interests. According to Acosta's report, "the District has not identified a preferred approach(es) to strategically changing the Height Act; nor has it has provided completed detailed urban design and economic studies that support a preferred approach."

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Published on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 in Greater Greater Washington
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