The plans for converting the West Heating Plant into a luxury condominium building with a public park to the south were finally presented to the Commission of Fine Arts on May 18. The reaction of the seven board members was a far cry from the concerns expressed by the Old Georgetown Board at a hearing in April. In a unanimous vote, the arts commission approved renowned architect David Adjaye’s design of the building, and also the design of the public park, created by equally renowned landscape architect Laurie Olin.
There are many hurdles that will need to be overcome before construction begins, however. Demolition of the three walls of the West Heating Plant will need the approval of the D.C. Mayor’s Agent for Historic Preservation. The developers cite the accelerating deterioration of the walls, which could cause a future safety hazard, as justification for their demolition. The building itself is highly contaminated with hazardous substances, and is currently unfit for human habitation.
The stone foundation of the building will be preserved, and the west facade facing 29th Street NW will also be substantially preserved. The public park to the south of the building will be connected to the C&O Canal National Historical Park by a bridge crossing the canal. These structures will create a link from the C&O Canal parkland to the public park to the south of West Heating Plant and ultimately to the Georgetown Waterfront Park. The Citizens Association of Georgetown board of directors has endorsed the revised plans.
— Bob vom Eigen