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Zoning Conversion: Architectural Clues Capture the Best of What Was

In Capitol Hill and other neighborhoods, it's quite apparent that mixed-use zoning would be more desirable for residents who want to walk out and grab a coffee and everyday items, rather than having to use a car. While that may be progress, it's actually the way it used to be. Clues in architecture capture that change.

In an era when people clamor to be in cities, the zoning laws that were in effect from 1958 to 2016 would be viewed as quite unattractive, as they would decree conversions to automatic residential use when stores or restaurants closed. As a result, long stretches of homes line streets, forcing residents to drive to get what they need, rather than walking around the corner.

At a public meeting on January 14, 2016, the Zoning Commission unanimously voted to approve a new zoning code to replace it. These new regulations will take effect this fall, September 6.

In the meantime, the homes that DC Former Retail bloggers Jared Alves and Maxime Devilliers photograph give telling clues to a time when it was possible and expected to walk down the street to buy everyday items. Clues included oversized bay windows, corner entrances, telling brickwork to replace larger windows, and decorative overhangs.