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Dupont Microcondos Get Approval From Historic Review Board

Dupont Microcondos Get Approval From Historic Review Board

Between Connecticut Avenue’s commercial corridor and the historic row houses that surround it, there’s not much room for new development in Dupont.

One solution, from Valor Development: Look up.

Two years after it put forward a proposal that would take commercial office space and turn it into small condos, Valor’s project — The Penelope — will receive a nod Thursday from the city’s Historic Preservation Review Board.

The development, atop a five-story building with ground floor retail tenants like The Gryphon, will build as many as 21 micro condos: Eleven on the fifth floor and 10  on the newly -constructed  sixth floor.

Initially, developers envisioned eight large luxury units on the site at  1337 Connecicut Ave NW. But soon after those plans in 2013, Valor came back to the table with a plan for micro units, something they say strikes the work-life balance young residents are seeking.

It’s a strategy that’s found recent success with DC developers looking to design attractive units while also respecting historical character. There’s a 245-room micro hotel planned for Chinatown, and 125 micro apartments coming to another development in Shaw. SB-Urban is behind the latter, along with plans to put micro-apartments in the historic Patterson Mansion in Dupont Circle and to in the Latham Hotel in Georgetown.

Valor, also behind the transformation of nearby 1617 Swann St NW into luxury apartments, first wanted to add two additional floors to the building. It’s since reduced its plans to include only one. Architects scaled back the massing and design of the addition to better blend into lower floors.

HPRB staffers asked developers to consider the scale of a large expanse of glass curtain wall on the sixth story’s facade, saying it “should be developed so that it is not overwhelming in scale to the underlying building.”

The project is still waiting for a Board of Zoning Adjustment decision on parking relief.

The building, which was zoned for office use, would normally require 10 spaces, but got an exception that allowed it to provide only eight. With the new project, developers would be required to provide a totally of 13 spaces, but they’re hoping to continue to provide no more than eight.  An April hearing was rescheduled for June 30.

Featured image: Proposed Penelope micro condos in Dupont. Image Courtesy of Valor Development and ALine Architecture. Rendering created by ArchBim Inc.

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The Colonel, a 70-Unit Residential/Retail Building, Opens In Shaw

The Colonel, a 70-Unit Residential/Retail Building, Opens In Shaw

Another mixed-use building is joining the rapid development happening along 9th Street in Shaw.

The five-story Colonel, named for Robert Gould Shaw, the neighborhood’s namesake and commander of the first African American regiment in the U.S., boasts 70 residential units, a mix of efficiencies and one-and two-bedrooms along with some penthouses, duplexes and a townhouse.

The $13 million project, from CAS Riegler, Douglas Development and PGN Architects, renovated the original turn-of-the century structure at 1250 9th St. N.W. to include below-grade parking, a bike room, a courtyard with a fireplace and a rooftop deck with a theater, a fire pit and a catering kitchen.

The real draw for the neighborhood: 8,500 square feet of ground-floor retail that already has some big-name tenants. Among them: All Purpose, a pizzeria behind the teams at Red Hen and Boundary Stone.

The vision is an 80-seat restaurant with deck oven-cooked pizza, owner Michael Friedman told The City Paper.

Don’t expect it to be as formal, though.

“I want it to have a great, airy, warm feeling to it,” he told The City Paper.

Tiffany MacIsaac will also open a much-anticipated storefront for Buttercream Bakeshop in the building, EaterDC reports, while consulting on pastries and pizza dough.

Both shops are expected to open in late 2015.

Featured Image: 1250 9th St NW. Courtesy of Douglas Development.

 

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Split, A New Ridesharing App, Is Out To Shake Up D.C.’s On-Demand Transportation Scene

Split, A New Ridesharing App, Is Out To Shake Up D.C.’s On-Demand Transportation Scene
With Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, Getaround and Bridj, does D.C. really need another on-demand ride app?

 

Split, a new ride-sharing service out of start-up incubator 1776, thinks there’s room for improvement.

 

Unlike the other services that have made a name for themselves in the District, Split is homegrown, from a team of local entrepreneurs. And instead of the kind of ride-hailing service made popular by the likes of Uber and Lyft, Split is focused on “smarter shared rides,” spokeswoman Mary Margaret Plumridge says.

 

In other words, it’s an on-demand carpool that’s more convenient than public transportation but less expensive than a taxi. Fares range from $2 to $8 because, founders say, users are always sharing a ride, which cuts down on cost.

 

The idea is catching on: Uber and Lyft have launched their own companion ride-sharing services in recent months — Uber Pool and LyftLine — though they aren’t yet available in D.C. Bridj, a Boston-based startup that launched last month, has already captured a part of the population willing  to share rides to avoid driving and the Metro. But unlike Split,  it operates more like a bus service: All riders board the vehicle at the same time from the same location, and are dropped off that way, too, based on collective starting points and destinations.

 

With Split,  users enter a starting and ending location into the app and walk no more than a block to a pickup point determined by technology that, thanks to D.C. open data, steers passengers away from things like crosswalks, bike lanes and loading zones. (It also helps avoid the confusion on-demand ride drivers sometimes have when trying to locate obscure addresses).

 

The driver receives requests via a real-time routing algorithm, which maps pickups and drop-offs into the most efficient route, Plumridge says. There are virtually no single trips: You’re almost guaranteed another passenger in the car. Another efficiency: Split can accommodate several passengers at once, which founders say allows the service to use  fewer vehicles to transport the same number of passengers as more traditional ride services.

 

It will also follow new regulations from the D.C. council on background checks and insurance.

At the moment, Split is focused on a central zone of the city: Columbia Heights to the north and Constitution Avenue to the south, and from Capitol Hill to Georgetown University east to west.  There are plans to expand within the city, and beyond it, as business picks up.

 

 

Can it compete?

So far, reviews are good, though there some bumps — like recognizing landmarks and locations — the new app will have to learn over time, says a review from Arlington Transit Partners.

When picking my Foggy Bottom Metro Station destination I was unable to find the Station in the address lookup. I ended up moving the pin right on to where the Metro Station is located which is not very handy if you aren’t exactly sure of your destination’s absolute location.

At the least,  Split,  et. al, can offer D.C. commuters more options.

Featured: A Split car on the road. Courtesy of Split.

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Four Liquor Licenses Open In Georgetown

Four Liquor Licenses Open In Georgetown

For the first time in more than a year,  liquor licenses are open in Georgetown.

D.C.’s Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) said Wednesday that four alcoholic beverage licenses for restaurants are available in the Georgetown Moratorium Zone, which limits the number of restaurants that can sell alcoholic beverages to 68.

The Georgetown Moratorium Zone, one of five across the city,  applies to any establishment within 1,800 feet of the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and N Street, NW — roughly from 36th St NW east to Rock Creek Park, and from Q Street NW south to the waterfront — with the exception of hotels or businesses located in Georgetown Park, Georgetown Park II, Prospect Place Mall, Georgetown Court or Washington Harbor.

The openings come after cancellations of licenses at   M Café  (3236 Prospect St., NW), Puro Café (1529 Wisconsin Avenue, NW), Zenobia Lounge (1025 31st St., NW) and Pizzeria Uno (3211 M St., NW), ABRA spokeswoman Jessie Cornelius told District Source.

The ABC board will accept applications for the Georgetown restaurants beginning June 25; they’ll be reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The openings come after the administration created several new types of liquor licenses, one that allows businesses like wineries, breweries and distilleries to mix their products and sell them on premises, via cocktails or glasses and pints, and another that lets bakeries to sell alcohol-infused products (with up to 5 percent alcohol).

Some breweries, none in Georgetown, have taken advantage of that law. There are no wineries in the district, though there could soon be one in Navy Yard.

 

 


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Two Restaurants Planned For New Trump Hotel In Old Post Office Pavilion

Two Restaurants Planned For New Trump Hotel In Old Post Office Pavilion

The $200 million renovation of the Old Post Office Pavilion, the future site of Donald Trump’s new downtown luxury Trump International Hotel, won’t be complete until mid-2016. But plans for two restaurants inside the 270-room building are picking up speed.

Iron chef Geoffrey Zakarian has announced he will open a farm to table concept serving American and French cuisine.

According to an application filed with the city, the restaurant will seat 350 and also include a 60-seat summer garden at the hotel at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave N.W.  Preliminary hours would be 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Zakarian operates a restaurant of the same name in New York. For the D.C. outpost, he will partner with Virginia’s trump winery to source produce and wines, he told The Washington Post.

A hearing for the restaurant’s liquor license is set for July 13.

The National will join another restaurant, yet to be named, from José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup. The restaurant, in the hotel lobby, will be responsible for the hotel’s food and beverage menu as well as its menu for events.

Along with the two restaurants, the hotel will also offer  39,000 square feet of meeting and event space. The centerpiece; A 13,000 square foot Grand Ballroom.

Both restaurants are scheduled to open when construction is complete next year.

Featured image: The future Trump Hotel in the Old Post Office Pavilion, via Trump International Hotel.

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Public Hearing Set For 400-Unit Mixed-Use Building in Noma

Public Hearing Set For 400-Unit Mixed-Use Building in Noma

Developers of a proposed mixed-use building just blocks from the southern entrance of the Noma Metro station will make their case before D.C.’s zoning commission this summer, arguing for a change in zoning code to allow the 525,000 square foot property to include residential units.

The property at 300 M St NE — now a warehouse building and surface parking lot — is located in a commercial zone. A development team, led by architects Hickok Cole, envision replacing it with a 400-unit residential multifamily development, with 13,000 square feet of ground floor retail.

The building will reach 110 feet at its highest point, stepping down to 80 and 50 feet from west to east, according to early plans. It will also include 175 off-street parking spaces located in a below-grade garage. Some of the residential units will be walk-up lofts with individual entryways and front porches.

Also on the table: Approval of a planned unit development (“PUD”)  that includes public park-like space along M Street to the west of Abbey Place, with paving, benches and lighting, according to Hickok’s project page.

This spring, developers said some of the other benefits considered in the PUD include:

  • Sidewalk improvements on the south side of M Street, NE
  • Replacing nearby streetlights
  • Contributing to the BID’s trash and snow removal program or providing such services independently
  • Contributions to Two Rivers charter school on the north of the site and possibly to Planned Parenthood, another nearby neighbor
  • Adding additional fare gates to the southern exit of the NoMa Metro

The Wilkes Company has been sitting on about 67,000 square feet of land between NoMa and Union Market since the 1980s; the most recent plans surfaced about two years ago.

Washington Business Journal reports the project has received clearance to do some soil testing, but designs, and construction, won’t begin without zoning approval.

Shaun Courtney reported for this story.

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Now Open: CaBi, A “Bike Corral” Service For Busy Capital Bikeshare Stations

Now Open: CaBi, A “Bike Corral” Service For Busy Capital Bikeshare Stations

The number of people who use Capitol Bikeshare to get to and from work is growing.

But what happens if there’s nowhere to dock the bike when you reach your destination?

It happens more often than you think: At its busiest, the company moves more than 2,500 bikes between stations each weekday, in vans that only hold a certain number of bikes at a time.

On Thursday, the company offered a solution: CaBi, a curbside service that will create virtual unlimited open docking for at least two of the system’s busies stations: 21st and I Streets, N.W., and downtown at 13th St and New York Ave N.W. 

How it works: Staff will be on hand between 7  and 11 a.m. to remove bikes from spaces when the station docks are full, which will let you  dock your bike and be on your way. (Bonus: the service is included with a membership).

For Bike to Work Day on May 15, the company will also offer the service at 14th and D Streets NW.

Reviews, so far, have been enthusiastic:

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 12.43.44 AM

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 12.42.31 AM

CaBi will be available for the first two locations every day of the week through the end of September, though it could continue beyond that based on demand.

Featured image: The first day of service at one of two new Capital Bikeshare bike corral stations, via Capital Bikeshare on Twitter.

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Developers to Raze 18-Trailer Office Park For Massive M Street Development

Developers to Raze 18-Trailer Office Park For Massive M Street Development

Part of M Street SE is about to get a makeover.

The developers of a three-building retail and commerical complex in Southeast Capitol Hill applied this week for a raze permit for 1333 M Street SE, putting into motion a major plan to build up the plot of land along the Anacostia waterfront.

The project, from Cohen Siegel Investor, will include three residential buildings with an estimated 673 residential units and more than 10,000 square feet of retail.

But first, developers are tasked with clearing the site near Navy Yard, which is home to a complex of 18 interconnected trailer offices. The permit asks for permission to lift, by crane, the wooden structures piece by piece from the complex so construction can begin.

The nearly 3-acres site is bounded by M Street, a future Virginia Avenue and Water Street, SE. The first phase entails a 10-story residential building with 218  rental units, an underground parking garage with 51 spaces and 44 surface parking spaces.

As part of the first phase, the developer will improve existing surface streets like M Street, construct an extension of Virginia Avenue south of M Street and create a new internal north-south private street.  Among the public benefits expected in the first phase are a public dog park at the southern terminus of 14th Street at the project and a wildflower meadow along the Water Street right- of-way to help with surface runoff and biodiversity.

A target date for the project has not been set, but developers said earlier this year they had a three-year timeline.

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Behind The Scenes Of 4 Historic Renovations

Behind The Scenes Of 4 Historic Renovations

Many of the developers transforming the District face the same problem: How can you renovate old buildings  into modern, efficient spaces while still preserving history and character?

Some projects get that goal right better than others, according the District of Columbia Historic Preservation Office. Each year, the office gives out Excellence in Historic Preservation awards that give a nod to projects and people that are both moving development forward and honoring parts of the past. This year’s 44 recipients covered a broad range of projects; here are some of the best.

Nash Residence, 330 Adolf Cluss Court SE

The Nash family was looking to retire. But they had a few must-haves — close to the Metro, on Capitol Hill, on one floor — that were hard to find.

So they turned to the alley.

The initial site, the 1921 Steuart Brothers coal and ice warehouse on a Capitol Hill alley, wasn’t pretty. It had practically no roof and most of the building wasn’t salvageable.

“My goodness that building was in dire shape,” architect Jane Nelson said. But the bones of the building were there — and “so elegant.”

Developers saved much of the brick and original materials. They were used for cabinets and fixtures, a sprawling dining table and other details in the now modern, energy efficient residence.

The Cluss residence, as seen in a DC Office of Historic Preservation video.

The Cluss residence, as seen in a DC Office of Historic Preservation video.

As part of the renovation, the family helped name their new street after Adolf Cluss, the German-born architect that designed Eastern Market.

Today, it’s lit largely by natural light (along with geothermal solar panels).

Clara Barton Apartment and Missing Soldiers Office, 437 7th Street NW

In 1997, the Clara Barton Apartment and Missing Soldiers Office, at 437 7th Street NW, was slated to be torn down — not a problem for preservationists, who had no idea the building existed.

Clara Barton used the 4,000 square foot building in Chinatown as her headquarters before and after the Civil War:  The mid-19th century downtown commercial building served both as her apartment (1861-1864) as well as her Missing Soldiers Office of the U.S. Army (1864 to 1868).

By the time developers got to it, though, it had been abandoned for 10 years and was in “really bad” condition. It was slated for apartments. But  first, the building — owned by the federal government’s general services division — had to be inspected.

The building before renovation.

The building before renovation.

Everything went as planned, until a contractor looked up and discovered a small sign that read “Missing Soldiers Office.”

Such a discovery  is unusual for a building associated with someone of Barton’s prominence. But “somehow, this place had gotten lost,” developers say.

In renovating the site, developers created the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Museum, which still has some of the basic light fixtures and decor of the post-Civil War era.

The museum today.

The museum today.

It has “one of the most unique collection of artifacts in the last 50 years,’ developers say.

Belmont Mansion–Eastern Star International Headquarters, 1618 New Hampshire Avenue NW

Courtesy of Google Maps.

Courtesy of Google Maps.

When Perry Belmont took office, he wanted to fit into the District. So he built a sweeping mansion. The price: $1.5 million (at 1906 rates). It was an estate catering to the Washington Elite, with a number of luxury features; it was also the first D.C. residence built with full electric capacity.

Since it was purchased in 1935, much of that grandeur has been replaced, piece by piece. Today, it’s one of the largest fraternities to which both men and women can belong.

House of Lebanon/Margaret Murray Washington School, 27 O Street NW

In 1912, residents of the Shaw neighborhood opened the Margaret Murray Washington School, a vocational school for African Americans that offered manual training for boys and domestic science and art for girls.

The school thrived through the later part of the 20th century, when it shut down. There were break-ins and vandalism, and the 1971 addition rapidly deteriorated.

The school site. Courtesy of DC Office of Preservation video.

The school site. Courtesy of DC Office of Preservation video.

Developers decided to transition the complex into housing for residents of the city aging out of their homes. It gives longtime neighbors a chance to stay in the area in which they grew up and raised families of their own; many of the residents of the complex today first walked the building’s halls as students.

An aerial view of the renovated school site. Courtesy of DC Office of Preservation video.

An aerial view of the renovated school site. Courtesy of DC Office of Preservation video.

Some of that charm still exists after the renovations: The large classroom window skeletons have been left in tact, and in the halls, old metal lockers line the walls.

The development “broadens the cultural fabric of the community,” officials said as they gave the project an award this year.

“A neighborhood should be a community, sort of like a rainbow, where you have different races, different economic backgrounds, different educational backgrounds,” one of the residents told the committee. This building, she said, helps make that a reality.

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Up For Development: Two Sites Near Brookland Metro

Up For Development: Two Sites Near Brookland Metro

Less than a year after it first awarded development rights near the Brookland-CUA stop, Metro is looking for more developers to build projects on two other sites near the growing Northeast neighborhood.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) put out a call for bids on two new parcels of land this week, one at 9th and Lawrence Streets NE and another at 9th and Kearney Streets NE.

The Lawrence parcel is actually three separate properties, according to the solicitation, and would have to be developed jointly; the Kearney site is a single property with more than 16,000 square feet.

The properties will join a number of other recent developments in the neighborhood near Catholic University, including the Monroe Street Market, which features luxury apartments, an Arts Walk and retail like  Barnes & Noble and restaurants.  Last year, Metro also awarded  Metro  development rights for two other sites at the Brookland-CUA stop to  MidAtlantic Realty Partners (MRP) and CAS Riegler Companies. Construction on that project — which will feature nearly 300 residential units and 9,000 square feet of retail — is expected to begin in 2016.

Metro is seeking at least $500,000 for the Lawrence site, and at least $375,000 for the Kearney property, according its solicitation. Bids are due June 19.

Featured Image:  Metro is offering up these sites near the Brookland-CUA Metrorail Station for development. Courtesy of WMATA.

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