NOVO Properties is one step closer to converting two apartment buildings on the 1800 block of Vernon St., NW into condominiums. NOVO has planned to modernize and redevelop these almost century-old structures for some time now but the firm just recently received the go ahead from both the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) and the Historic Planning Review Board (HPRB) as of October. According to sources inside the firm, the local ANC has jumped on board as well, despite the project's ill-standing with some members of the community.
The now-vacant buildings used to hold 25 rent-controlled apartment units housing a combined total of 29,000 s.f. of space. NOVO plans to add three new units to the current mix, in addition to adding a four-floor modern bridge structure to connect the pair of stand-alone properties. Although the exterior will remain mostly as-is, the interior is planned for dramatic improvements; Bonstra Haresign has taken the design reigns and the two firms are currently in the midst of deciding the overall architectural scheme.
The property was purchased from Perseus Realty for $4 million in June of this year; though some have questioned the firm's handling of the property disposition. Some disaffected residents claimed Perseus, after offering generous stipends from $1,000 to as high as $15,000 to induce tenants to vacate their homes, used heavy-handed tactics (waterboarding?) to get residents out of the building. Councilmember Jim Graham and Mayor Fenty have investigated, but the case has all but fallen out of the public eye.
That being said, NOVO declined to comment on the record. Spokespeople for the company, however, did mention that the projected ground breaking is anticipated within the next year. NOVO is the developer behind The Takoma condominiums in Takoma Park, MD, and owns a number of medium to large sized apartment buildings throughout the DC Metro area as well as a smattering of properties located in Charleston, SC, Chicago, IL and Philadelphia, PA. The project will be built by Eichberg Construction.