Thursday, March 20, 2008

14th Street: Apartments In, Nehemiah Center Out


14th Street's Nehemiah Center, that vestige of bad architecture and short-sited urban planning, will soon be demolished to make way for a large residential project. Texas based UDR, which purchased the site last year, requested raze permits last week, and expects to begin demolishing the property by the end of the second quarter. UDR acquired the hopelessly outdated strip mall at 2400 14th Street from Level 2 Development, which took the project all the way through the existing, and currently approved, P.U.D. stage. UDR will implement Level2's plans, with some embellishment, at an estimated total cost of $130 million. DC-based Metropolis Development had initially purchased the option from Level2 for the rights to develop the site, but later sold the option for a profit to UDR.



The Nehemiah Center currently serves as a one-story retail building along 14th Street, within shouting distance from the U Street Corridor - currently a real estate hotspot surrounded by several ongoing and planned residential projects. Level 2 wanted to capitalize on the area, but opted to sell and concentrate on its View 14 project across the street, a project that it began as condos but that is now just beginning to come out of the ground as an apartment building. UDR's adaption of Level2's plans will replace the old retail with 17,000 s.f. of new retail, and add more units than the currently approved 225. Two weeks ago, UDR's team met with City officials to apply for an addition of 30 residential units to the overall scheme. The firm expects to receive comments regarding whether this increase is feasible within the next month, after which a Zoning Commission hearing will be required.

The building will rise nine stories above the 14th and U Street Corridor, advantageously perched as one of the higher buildings in the area on the slope that rises to Columbia Heights, offering the potential for the distant views rare in the District. The residential units will average 775 s.f. and were initially pushed through the planning process as condominiums, but according to sources at UDR, the market forced them to build out as a market-rate apartment building. There will be a number of affordable housing units as well as a 1,000-s.f. commercial space designated as educational, job training, retail space.


Behind the main building will sit a multi-level parking garage, half above-ground, an issue that has been one of the biggest sources of problems from the community. UDR held a public meeting in February to address the community's concerns about design and construction phases. Turns out the community is agitated over the abundant road and sidewalk closures that result from the numerous projects in the neighborhood. UDR will now phase the construction so that the parking structure would be the first to be completed, hoping to lessen parking and traffic concerns.

"Although we are a national multi-family developer, we understand the importance of local consultants who understand how things get done in their backyard. We want to bring people in who have those existing great relationships, who know how to develop projects in the city. So we felt comfortable," said Rodney Burchfield with UDR. Burchfield is referring to both Shalom Baranes Architects which is designing the new building, and Donohoe Construction, the General Contractor. "As an owner, we're looking to be a part of this new and emerging part of the District, and we want to be a great neighbor," Burchfield added.


Shalom Baranes' design will feature floor to ceiling glass views, private terraces, a rooftop pool and garden as well as a massive lobby and outdoor atrium. UDR will be going for LEED points but has not decided whether or not to strive for LEED certification.

11 comments:

Justin on Mar 20, 2008, 4:09:00 PM said...

Parking above ground...ugh.... but other than that it looks decent...

IMGoph on Mar 20, 2008, 6:59:00 PM said...

parking above ground more than ugh....the city should flat-out tell them "put that underground". you only have one chance to get this right, so GET IT RIGHT!

poo poo said...

i used to live near there.

what a craphole.

HOWEVER, methinks that they may be trying to fill a void. a PARKING void. U street is busy, and parking is hell. they're a bit off of u street, so... they're trying to grab an opportunity, methinks.

not that i like it, i don't.

but clearly, their angle to getting approved is all about alleviating the parking congestion in that part of the hood.

not sure what dc residents can do, if anything....

Anonymous said...

I live right around the corner (owner of a row house). Anything, including an above ground garage, is better than the thug hangout that it was and still is. I am literally pray that this project starts as soon as possible. Please, please, please, build it.

Cyndia on Mar 21, 2008, 2:42:00 PM said...

I know it's fashionable to bash all of the long time residents and nonprofits in DC, but the Nehemiah Retail Center was the first new retail on 14th street since Dr. King's murder and was, at the time that it opened, celebrated because of the accomplishment of bring much needed neighborhood serving retail. It, along with the rest of the Nehemiah development at the front door to Columbia Heights (towns on Belmont and a coop on 14th) paved the way for all of the development you're seeing now. Plus, the plan was never to leave it as a strip mall . . . I wouldn't exactly describe that as short sited.

I agree about underground parking... as hard as it is right there (permanent dewatering will be at Solea because of the underground stream networks throughout CH), you only get the one shot at it and it's just plain common sense in urban development.

poo poo said...

"violin playing"...

great.

put a plaque up, or something.

georgetown used to be a neighborhood for 'freed slaves'.

you live in the past, or you live in the present, or you live in the future.

yes, there's a rich history in the area, but please.........

the area has been crap for too long. i don't see anyone complaining about the lack of shootings, prostitution, drug dealing etc.

yeah, yeah, yeah... the death of MLK (a hero) caused the blight of the area.

we should look back, but not with hopeful hearts. let's look to the future, while acknowledging the chaotic past, the subsequent crime ridden period, and now the historical regrowth of the neighborhood.

my family was kicked out of france, but i don't go on and on about that.

gimme a break.

mediocre bad guy on Mar 22, 2008, 5:04:00 PM said...

I <3 poo poo.

mediocre bad guy on Mar 24, 2008, 3:03:00 PM said...

I hate HATE when developers put mechanical shit on the outside of the units. SUCH CRAPCHITECTURE. Can you spend the 100 dollars per unit to route the stuff through the walls up to the roof so we dont have to look at Mr. Jones' HVAC exhaust?

UGH!

JuxtaExposed.com on Mar 26, 2008, 10:57:00 AM said...

The tight adjacency of the metro line running straight up 14th St. at that location makes putting the parking underground tough (read: expensive due to extensive monitoring of the metro tracks) but not impossible.

Also, in full agreement about the exposed MEP units. I'm quite surprised that actually showed that in the rendering. Least they could have is the common decency to fudge it so the rendering looked better.

tig said...

Hey two Shalom Baranes projects in a row - those gorgeous locks are busy. Also two Donohoe projects in a row. What's one less than a trifecta?

Anonymous said...

The mechanical on the outside of the building may be necessary on a select number of units due to the lack of space on the roof for 255 mechanical units. The plans I have seen show a great rooftop amenity area as well as some private balconies.

 

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