Archive for the ‘Housing’ category

Arcade Sunshine Transformation from Dry Cleaning Plant to 225 New Apartments is Amazing

February 5, 2019

Entrance to the new apartments at 713 Lamont Street, NW

It has been interesting to watch the transformation of converting the Alsco/Linen’s of the Week building into 225 new units of housing right off of Georgia Avenue. The community first learned about the proposal in 2014. Today, the property has progressed to the point where both the 713 and 733 Lamont Street buildings are now leasing. In visiting the Arcade Sunshine Web site, you can see both the floor plans for 713 Lamont as well as the floor plans for 733 Lamont.

While the conversion of the historic laundry plant is nearly complete, the owners still plan to construct a few more housing structures on the parking lot to the west, and they also own the land behind the building that connects to Morton Street.

From beginning to end, once ANC1A and the developer was able to agree upon saving the historic facades of the 713 Lamont building, this has been a class act with an exciting outcome. This is adaptive reuse at its best. It includes significant underground parking, adds 225 new apartments to the neighborhood on a property that has never supported housing in its long history, and has done so in a way that incorporates historic structures and facades to create a new outcome that is both exciting and enhancing the architectural fabric of the surrounding community. I’m a big fan of this project.

Below are a few more photos of the (nearly) completed project.

Is the Hebrew Home Redevelopment Project Still On? You Betcha!

January 18, 2019


(Bird’s Eye View of Hebrew Home project from 10th and Spring Rd., NW.)

I’ve had a number of people ask lately if the Hebrew Home project at 1125 Spring Road is still going forward due to the site being quiet for the last several month. The answer is yes!

Here is what the Victory Housing and Brinshore Development team have been doing to get the project shovel ready. They are currently in underwriting with the Department of Housing and Community Development for the historic senior building and have passed the threshold (meaning they are going to underwriting) for the new family development . The property has been subdivided and they’re going through all the normal details required for predevelopment with the lenders/financers/engineering, etc.

As a recap, the plans for the historic Hebrew Home building were approved by the HPRB in January 2018, following Victory Housing and Brinshore being awarded the project in August 2017.

When completed, the development will include the creation of 187 residential units through a mix of townhomes and apartments. The project will include the creation of 88 units of affordable housing for seniors at or below 60 percent Area Median Income (AMI) through the adaptive preservation of the historic Hebrew Home building as well as the creation of 62 units of affordable housing in a newly constructed building at the current site of the Paul Robeson School.

 

729 Princeton Place Gets Permits, Potentially Ending 3+ Years of Vacant and Blighted Conditions.

January 2, 2019

The days living with the vacant and blighted rowhouse at 729 Princeton Place appear to be coming to an end. With a new owner, a new design, and newly approved building permits, the property looks like a go for being completed and back in productive use soon.

As nearby residents may recall, the issue dates to the Spring of 2015 when the then owner constructed a third story addition with no permits to do so (either filed or issued). Making the issue more complicated, construction began days prior to changes in the Zoning Law that would require the as-built addition to require a Special Acceptation and Board of Zoning Adjustment approval. Rather than apply for the appropriate building permit or file a BZA case to seek approval, the owner repeatedly continued to work in violation of DCRA’s Stop Work Orders. Ultimately, this created an impasse leading to the current state the building is in today.

729 Princeton Place as of January 2019.

Now it appears that the days of seeing this property vacant and blighted may be coming to an end. In June, 2018, the property was sold to a new owner. Unlike the previous owner, they have found a solution that will rebuild the third story in a way that is compliant with ZR-16 and will not require a BZA Special Exception (NOTE: the previous owner could have gone this route as well).

According to the plans shared with me and the language in the DCRA PIVS system, the new design conforms to the 35′ height allowed by right, restores a section of the original roof, and allows for the property to be converted into two living units. The third story as currently constructed is higher than the 35′ limit.

The new permit was approved on December 19, 2018, and scope of work is described as follows:

EXPEDITION REVIEW

Complete interior remodel to existing 3 story structure.  Rebuild existing third story addition to comply with zoning and building code requirements.  New rear 3 story addition.  Conversion to a two-family flat.  All new electrical, mechanical, and plumbing.  Exterior work to also include landscaping + new parking pad off alley.

… and here is the newly proposed plan for the building.

Newly proposed elevations for 729 Princeton that comply with ZR-16.

Georgia Avenue Development Beginning to Move Forward

October 30, 2018

Nearly four years in the making, the development approved for 3619 Georgia Avenue has finally progressed to the point where we’ll start to see  a building rise above grade. Below is a photo of the current state of construction.

(Construction at 3619 Georgia, the week of October 29th, 2018.)

… and below is what the finished building has been designed to appear.

(Rendering of 3619 Georgia as it will appear upon completion.)

More Housing Proposed for 727 Kenyon Street, NW

September 25, 2018


(727 Kenyon Street, NW, is on the left of the driveway in the photo above.)

A rather straight forward BZA Case that will be before ANC1A on October 10th is the proposed conversion of the single family house at 727 Kenyon Street, NW, into a three-unit apartment building. The structure is on a large lot with the proposal meeting the requirements of the properties RF-1 Zone with the exception of a third unit. Properties zoned RF-1 only permit two units as a matter of right, but allow 3 units by special exception.

The developer presented the project at the September ANC1A meeting and will return in October for a vote. As presented, benefits of the proposal in addition to an additional unit than otherwise allowed are:

  • the property is large enough for off street parking, and three off street parking spaces will be created;
  • the curb cut would be removed, increasing on street parking by at least one space; and,
  • each of the new units would be three bedroom plus den, meaning they would be large enough for families.

Below are some drawings of the plans from the BZA case and developer.

(Reconfigured façade)

Floor plans after the jump (more…)

Housing to Replace Former Church on Holmead Place, NW

September 6, 2018

(Former Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints building at 3423 Holmead Place, NW)

On Wednesday, September 12th, ANC1A will review and consider a zoning case requesting support to convert the vacant church at 3423 Holmead Pl, NW, into a new building containing 7-units of family sized housing (see plan set here).

The proposal is requesting zoning relief in the following areas:

  1. The RF-1 Zone allows for a conversion of a property from a non-residential building to an apartment house by way of Special Exception for a project not meeting one or more of the matter of right criteria. This project as designed does not meet two of those criteria, which requires that the addition be limited to thirty-five feet in height and which prohibits the removal of architectural elements original to the structure (such as the steeple in this case);
  2. Relief from the criteria governing the front setbacks for residential dwellings in the RF-1 Zone. In this case, the existing structure currently does not conform with this criteria and the development is not proposing to change the existing setback of twenty-five feet;
  3. Relief from court and nonconforming structure: The existing building has an existing court on its northwest corner. The proposed addition will extend this nonconforming court and also create two new courts on the southwest and southeast corners of the building. As the building will be forty feet in height, the minimum open court width is eight-point-three feet. As the proposed courts are nonconforming, relief is required for the proposal to proceed; and,
  4. Relief from height and number of floors. In the RF-1 Zone, 35 feet in height is allowed as a matter of right, with 40 feet in height allowed with a special exception. The building is designed to be 40 feet in height (which is still shorter than the existing rowhouses to the north and south of the property). Additionally, as designed the new apartment building would be four-stories, yet the RF-1 Zone only allows three-stories by right. So zoning would need to approve the fourth story.

(Rendering of apartment building proposed for 3423 Holmead Pl., NW)

All in all, the proposal strikes me as being reasonable and beneficial to the community. The new structure is not seeking relief from parking requirements, maintains the current set back of the existing structure, and is shorter than the rowhouses on the block. It also proposes to create six 3-bedroom units ranging in size from 1,290-1,522 sq. ft. and one 4-bedroom unit with 2,805 sq. ft. of living space on the top floor. Family sized housing is rarely proposed by developers and a housing type and its something that many neighborhoods are loosing as rowhouses are converted into condos.

Armed Forces Retirement Home to Renovate Vacant Grant Building for Senior Assisted Living

September 4, 2018

(The Grant building entrance at the AFRH.)

Earlier today, the Armed Forces Retirement Home announced with a press release (read the full release) that is plans to sign a letter of intent on September 6, 2018, with Gragg Cardon Partners, LLC, to renovate and convert the historic and vacant Grant Building at the north end of the campus for use as an affordable assisted living facility for eligible seniors.

The press release states:

“We are excited about this proposal to revitalize this beautiful building, and put it to a use that fits so closely with what we’re already doing at the Armed Forces Retirement Home,” said Chief Operating Officer James M. Branham. “We look forward to working with Gragg Cardona and their partners over the coming months as we each conduct due diligence and, we hope, reach agreement on a lease later this year or early in 2019.”

The restoration and adaptive re-use of the historic Grant Building as an Affordable Assisted Living Community for low to moderate income seniors is a wonderful solution, and will be an asset to both the AFRH’s long-term goals as well as the greater communities surrounding the home. In the District of Columbia, there is an unmet and growing need for affordable assisted living for the DC senior community.

The Grant Building is a grand renaissance revival structure bordering Rock Creek Church Road and Harewood Road. It opened in 1910 to provide dining facilities, residential rooms, and community facilities for the AFRH’s veteran residents. It closed in 2001. The building is in the Home’s historic district which includes a national monument and historic site. Gragg Cardona approached the Home in July with the proposal and intends to pursue bonds and historic preservation and housing tax credits to offset some of the renovation costs.

Last month, I had the opportunity to visit the AFRH which included a tour of the shuttered Grant building. Below are some photos of the great spaces that will be incorporated into the new facility.

(The entry foyer of the Grant Building.)

(Balcony in the former dining hall of the Grant Building.)

(Looking down toward the entry foyer from the mezzanine.)

New 10-Unit Building Planned for 14th Street in Columbia Heights

August 30, 2018


(New 10-unit building planned for 3601 14th Street, NW, on the northeast corner of Perry)

In July, ANC1A was asked for a letter of support to raze the building at 3601 14th Street, NW, in order for the owners to build a new 10-unit building on the site. At the July ANC meeting, there was some confusion about the request as ANCs do not have authority to officially weigh in on raze applications and no Commissioner could think of a previous time when anyone had come to the Commission seeking support for a raze permit. We all agreed that we appreciated the opportunity to discuss the project as well as provide the community with details and that it would be great if other developers would do it.

(The structure currently at 3601 14th Street, NW.)

At the end of the discussion, ANC1A voted unanimously to support the raze application. The resulting building will have 10-units, meaning that it will have to provide one-unit as an Inclusionary Zoning unit. The building will be built entirely by-right, will conform with zoning, and is not seeking a parking variance. The architects for the project are Arcadia Design.

Initially, both Commissioners Valerie Baron and Kent Boese recognized the structure as once being the location of a mikvah and were concerned about any historic or cultural importance of the building, especially as there are few buildings that directly relate to the Jewish community that lived in the neighborhood during the 1920s-1960s.

In September 1940, a new community mikvah was dedicated on 14th Street, NW, within walking distance of the Beth Sholom Congregation, the Jewish Social Service Agency, and the Hebrew Home. (Above is the front and inside cover of the mikvah’s rules/regulations booklet.).

After consulting with the Historic Preservation Office and the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington it was determined that there was nothing architecturally significant about this property as it related to the mikvah. The structure was originally constructed as a residence and converted only later to a mikvah. With this understanding, it was agreed that razing the structure could be supported. The owners did agree to a request from the ANC to allow interested members from the historic societies access to tour and photograph anything that may remain of historic interest prior to razing.

Below are additional images of the planned new structure.

(Site plan showing the wedge shape of the lot.)

(Upper view looking northeast from 14th and Perry streets.)

More Affordable Senior Housing Being Planned for Columbia Heights

August 27, 2018

(The Samuel J. Simmons NCBA Estates at 14th and Harvard St., NW)

Last week, ANC1A Commissioners Margaret Hundley and Kent Boese were invited to a meeting with National Caucus & Center on Black Aging, Inc. (NCBA) leadership about plans to expand the Samuel J. Simmons NCBA Estates property located at 14th Street between Harvard Street and Girard Street, NW. NCBA is an organization dedicated to the physical, economic, social and financial wellbeing of low-income African American senior citizens.

The Simmons Estates property currently provides 175 units of housing for seniors. The purpose of the meeting was to inform ANC1A about their plans to expand their Columbia Heights facility and request that the Commission provide a letter of support — which ANC1A will consider at their September 12th meeting.

Based on the information that NCBA shared, I’m very existed about this development. While there are still many details currently being worked out, here is the high level overview of the project proposal:

  • The new construction would be entirely by-right and compliant with zoning;
  • The project would create approximately 159 new units of housing for seniors at no more than 60% AMI;
  • The project would eliminate the surface parking lot currently behind the building, and replace it with approximately 81 spaces of underground parking on two levels; and,
  • There is a possibility that the new building could include approximately 5,000 sq. ft. of retail space at the corner of 14th and Harvard as well at NCBA’s main office.

It is too early to tell what the new building might look like, but NCBA provided the following drawings that help give a sense of the siting, massing, and relationship of the new building with the existing apartment building.

(The new building would be constructed along Harvard Street and behind the current apartment building. It would also create a green courtyard between the current building and the new building.)

(This drawing shows the location and massing of the proposed building along with its connection to the existing apartment tower.)

(One interesting feature of the proposed building is that in order to provide an entrance to the underground parking, DDOT will need to reopen the closed alley on Girard Street. Not only does this make the need for a new curb cut unnecessary, it will improve city services such as trash collection for all residents on the block.)

New 26-Unit Development Proposed for 11th and Park Rd., NW

August 21, 2018

(Rendering from BZA Application)

A new zoning case (BZA 19862) was just filed that proposes to combine the four separate lots surrounding Red Rock Pizza in Columbia Heights and replace the existing rowhouses with a new four-story, 26-unit apartment building. The height of the Project will rise to no greater than 50 feet as permitted in the MU-4 Zone.

According to the application:

“The Applicant proposes to create a residential entry at the front of the building along 11th Street NW. Two bays will project four feet into public space along 11th Street NW on each of the four floors. Five units are proposed to be located in the cellar level, five units on the first floor, six units on the second and third floors, and four units on the fourth floor. The penthouse will contain the upper levels of the fourth-floor units. In the rear, another residential entry point is proposed which can be accessed via the pipestem portion of the Property leading from the alley.”

The applicant will be seeking relief from the four parking spaces required by zoning. The reasoning behind this request is that the four properties in question currently to not have off-street parking or access to the alley in the middle of the block. Furthermore, due to the close proximity to the intersection of 11th and Park Rd., DDOT will likely not grant a curb-cut for off-street parking.

In thinking about transit close to this property, the 64, H8, and 63 bus lines all have stops across the street or on Sherman Avenue, there is a Capitol Bikeshare station at the intersection, and both the Columbia Heights and Georgia Avenue Metro rail stations are within a 10-15 min. walk.

Currently, this BZA case will likely be on the October ANC1A agenda, with a community meeting in late September.

More details can be found on the Zoning Website.

 


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