The Washington Post
is reporting that there is increased momentum to amend the building height limits in Washington, D.C. to allow for slightly taller buildings. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) has spoken with U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) recently about ways Congress could change the existing 130-foot height regulation on most city buildings.
The height limits allow for uniformity of building heights and preserve significant vistas to key monuments and buildings, especially the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building, but also results in many squat office buildings. Washington, D.C. has experienced significant growth in the construction of both new office and residential buildings in the past two decades, but the height restrictions limit the extent of developable space within the District. That results in both limitation in population and in business growth in the District, and a limit on tax income as further growth continues in surrounding Virginia and Maryland suburbs.
Issa heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that has jurisdiction over the District, and has indicated that he would like to transfer more authority to local District planners.
If a change were to be proposed, it would likely only add one floor to most buildings. But, as the Post
reports, a small change could add to the city’s tax rolls, raise ceiling heights, allow for buildings to add a floor, and allow for new buildings to be less squat in appearance. Issa is also open to the possibility of even taller buildings in parts of Northeast and Southeast Washington away from the downtown core and the Mall.