Friday, April 03, 2009

Homes, Not Houses for the Mount Vernon Triangle


Property owner Abbas Fathi has received preliminary staff approval from the District’s Historic Preservation Review Board to construct a “two-unit, three-story, three-bay wide brick veneer rowhouse-form building” at 1213 4th Street , NW. Unlike most District development these days, however, Fathi isn’t looking to cram the new development full of “stainless steel amenities” or flip it for a profit before the year is out.

“It’s not condos or rentals,” said Fathi. “Two families are going to live there and I’m going to give it to them.”

Fathi intends to deliver the units to members of his own large extended family that has roots up and down the East Coast and it’ not the first time he’s sought such a project. He’s also currently in the midst of similar initiative at 100 Bryant Street, NW – a property he picked up for $399,000 at January’s Department of Housing and Community Development “nuisance property” auction. Says Fathi: “My brother lives outside the area, but has been wanting to join us, so we’re going to renovate the house for him and his family.”

Designed by architect Bill Washington, the three-story project at 1213 4th Street - which is currently a vacant lot only few blocks from that large-scale testament to the breadth of Mount Vernon Triangle redevelopment, CityVista - will measure in at 3,3000 square feet, to be divided between its two future families. If Fathi has his way, both will be moving in as soon as possible.

“We’ve gotten both ANC approvals…because there are two [with jurisdiction in the area]…If we go and get full approval next week from the HPRB, the following day we’re going to go and apply for permits with the DCRA,” says Fathi. ““If we’re able to start in, say, March or so, we should be finished in about 8 months.”

The HPRB staff member tasked with evaluating the Fathi project has largely consented, with one interesting caveat. “There is the possibility that remains of a 19th century structure/occupation of the lot are present,” writes Meyer. “Archaeological investigations may be warranted.”

Given that the HPRB, as a whole, almost always follows recommendations made by staff, this should pose little to no problem for Fathi – especially given the diminutive dimensions of his 4th Street lot. Other quandaries raised in the report include window widths, dimensions of a cornice and the height of the “main entry header.” Nonetheless, final approval is expected to be granted at the HPRB’s March 26th hearing.

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