For most of the eight years he’s been in business, Michael Cross, principal and founder of District-based architecture firm Michael Cross Design Group, has been at the center of controversy in the city over the issue of rowhouse pop-ups. Cross has designed about a dozen pop-ups in residential neighborhoods, both for individual owner-occupants who want one more story and for developers hoping to create a multi-unit condo building on the footprint of a rowhouse.
In June, after a year-long battle between developers gutting and expanding rowhouses and neighbors fighting to “Stop the Pop,” the District’s Zoning Commission approved new regulations that will limit building heights of single-family rowhouses to 35 feet, from a previous limit of 40 feet, in R-4 residential zones.
Moreover, multi-unit condo buildings going up in R-4 zones will be limited to two condo units by right; if developers wish to build a third or fourth unit, they will need to argue their case with the Board of Zoning Adjustment to receive a special exception.
The Zoning Commission is hoping that the regulations will slow the snowballing “pop-up” effect that is altering the street view throughout the District.