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D.C. Continues Discussion on Building Height Limits

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credit: PAUL J.RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

credit: PAUL J.RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — There are strong opinions on both sides of D.C.’s skyline debate, which centers around whether to keep the city’s Heights of Buildings Act of 1910 as-is or to change it.

Currently, buildings can’t stand taller than 130 feet in most commercial areas and 90 feet in residential areas.

Some say the city needs vertical development in order to keep real estate affordable.

Harriet Tregoning, Director of the D.C. Office of Planning, is open to letting buildings within city limits top out at 200 feet.

“It’s pretty hard to go anywhere in the city and not have people somewhat horrified at the direction our housing prices are headed,” she said at a public hearing on the issue held at the Wilson Building Monday.

She argues that vertical growth will help alleviate that issue.

Others said Monday that they doubt changing the height limits would allow for growth in all parts of the D.C., and would help chip away at the city’s character in the process.

Sue Hemberger, a Tenleytown resident, said raising height limits “would steer investment capital to precisely those places that are already expensive and largely built out.”

Nancy MacWood, a representative of a non-profit dedicated to preserving D.C.’s “historic distinction,” agreed that changing the height limits would not have a meaningful impact on real estate throughout the city.

Others who want to weigh in on either side of the argument will be given the opportunity to do so Wednesday night at a public hearing hosted by the National Capital Planning Commission.

The commission is against raising the height limit.

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