Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Contested" 5220 Wisconsin Project Wins Zoning Approval

Last week, the DC Zoning Commission granted its initial approval to DC-based developer Akridge’s proposed mixed-use development for 5220 Wisconsin Avenue NW, over objections by the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission regarding the project. Akridge hopes to build its $30 million Friendship Heights condominium complex just south of the metro station between Harrison and Jenifer Streets NW, now home to a flower store and a used-car lot and auto body shop. The planned building would house up to 70 condo units (seven percent reserved for affordable housing), and offer 13,200 square feet of street-level retail, plus two levels of underground parking.

In unanimously approving this project, the Zoning Commission reject opponents’ claims that the 79-foot building would tower over the neighborhood, and instead saw it as a natural continuation of the larger-scale development just to the north. A final vote on this project has yet to be scheduled.

Condo units at 5220 Wisconsin (one and two bedroom) are expected to be between 1,100-1,300 sf, with an average price of $800,000. The structure would include a five-story traditional-style brick section facing Wisconsin Avenue to help mesh it in with the existing streetscape, with an additional two stories of glass set back from the street. The southern part of the structure will taper down to three stories on the southwestern side. There will also be an open courtyard at the center of the building, which is planned to be LEED Certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), with "green" features such as a roof that stores and filters storm water and the recycling and reuse of 50% of all construction materials waste. In addition to this building, Akridge plans to upgrade the existing yet foreboding PEPCO substation to the south of this site by restoring its façade, fixing the sidewalks around it, and adding windows for artwork displays. The developer hopes to start construction on this project later this year.


Chris on Jun 17, 2007, 1:23:00 PM said...


Average price of $800,000 though? Geezus. Its becoming increasingly clear to me that if I want to every own anything this city, I'm going to have to marry for money, simple as that :)

Nick on Jun 17, 2007, 10:42:00 PM said...

Either that or sell the first born, or hit Powerball. Actually, while these prices start a tad high, that's due to the location and proximity to the "Gold Coast" of upper Wisconsin Ave here. There are plenty of 1 and 2 BR condos in the city in the $200-400k range, and in great neighborhoods. And that's not just me doing the real estate agent PR thing - it's actually true!

Anonymous said...

Thats not too bad for that area (everything is relative right?) Look at Chase Point (at Military and Wisconsin), 920 sf 1 bdrm/den were going for almost $700k-$800k. Theres a lot of "old money" in Chevy Chase, widowers that would rather live in a condo then a house.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the upper 16th Street, NW area already labeled DC's "Gold Coast"?

As for Akridge's project being "contested" by neighborhood groups, the big question is why. That section of Wisconsin Avenue is already lined with several multi-story buildings. From the renderings, Akridge's project looks to fit right in.

Nick on Jun 18, 2007, 6:46:00 PM said...

Ah - someone knows DC history. True the mid-to-upper 16th Street corridor was historically known as the Gold Coast, but it's rare to hear that anymore. The stretch of Wisconsin from the FH metro to the grassy stretch of Chevy Chase before Bethesda has seemingly taken that title (which I prefer over the "Gucci Gulch" moniker someone recently used on me for it).

As for the opposition, it's the usual combination of fear of losing neighborhood character plus some NIMBYsim, but given the fact FH long ago purposefully lost its small-town soul, the argument is tough to make.

Ken on Jun 20, 2007, 5:49:00 AM said...

More surprising about the local NIMBYs is that the site is occupied by under-utilized, aesthetically devaluing property at the moment. The Akridge design is not only attractive, but a huge improvement over the existing landscape, and Akridge would further improve the nearby streetscape and add much needed neighborhood-serving retail. Its quite sad that a small group of neighbors can be such a roadblock to any kind of development in the city.

Local groups have vowed to continue fighting this project, supported by DC Council Member Kwame Brown, who has grandstanded against the project as too dense and out of scale for the area (it would be shorter than 2 of its immediate neighbors), a move that doesn't bode well for development since Brown is Chair of the Council’s Economic Development Committee.

Anonymous said...

The project was contested because it uses 100% of the lot with no greenery or greenspace facing Wisconsin which would have helped clean the air.

Just a note that there are several levels of LEEDS certification ex. Gold, etc. (about 5 levels) and this project has aimed at achieving the very very lowest level which they are mandated to do so as a new commercial building.


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