The Merion Group, the new owners of 1705-1729 East Capitol St., SE, have asked for a permit to raze the building, the first sign of movement on the eyesores across from Eastern Senior High School near RFK Stadium. The raze permit, filed under the name PYD I LLC, comes after a March 2009 approval by the DC Zoning Commission, which had approved development plans filed Comstock East Capitol LLC in December of 2007. The 2009 approval allowed for modifications by the new owner. Kennedy Place, as the new condos will be called, now has an extension until 2011, when the revised PUD expires.
The site is currently a vacant, 80-unit apartment building (pictured) on East Capitol Street, SE, between 17th and 18th Streets. The 42,629-s.f. plot is just blocks from the Stadium-Amory Metro. The Merion website describes the project as "a redevelopment effort which will create new condominiums in a gentrifying area of Capitol Hill." The ANC must be pleased to hear about their neighborhood finally gentrifying.
In December 2007 Comstock received approval for a consolidated PUD and zoning change from R-4 to R-5B, allowing construction of a 133-unit building. In that same month, Merion acquired the property for $6.2 million from Comstock, which paid $9 million in 2006. Merion Chairman Bill Bensten was formerly a senior executive at Comstock.
In September of 2008, PGN Architects, the project architects throughout the toss up, filed on behalf of the owners for a minor modification to the original PUD, changing the total units from 133 to 141. In January 2009 the counsel for Merion requested a one-year extension to December 2010 in addition to the earlier modification request.
Though the original plan had been to immediately begin construction, as financing realities were pouring cold water on new construction, developers added more one and two bedroom units to the mix, requiring interior changes to the architecture, further slowing the project. The change was intended to increase marketability.
The approved zoning changes and plan modifications give the developers until December of 2010 to file a building permit, and December of 2011 to begin construction. Beyond that, developers would need to start anew.