Thursday, April 22, 2010

Buying Into Utopia


Though it may be hard to believe, U Street still has a few rough edges without the pizazz of chic bars and swanky loft apartments, but not for long: enter Utopia at the corner of 14th and U, where developers assert a construction timeline is nigh. Robert Moore of Georgetown Strategic Capital LLC (GSC) is the optimist behind Utopia's assemblage of parcels into a mixed-use residential and retail project; Moore recently shared with DCMud how his long gestating plans are coming into focus.

Though the Utopia project was "hammered by the economy in '08 and '09," said Moore, the team is deep in the process of "inking" an agreement with a large financial institution. Moore indicated everything has to "go through the lawyers," but that he could make an announcement about financing and a timeline "hopefully in the next couple weeks." With financial backing secured for the $93.5 million project, the team will then put together construction drawings and obtain permits, reportedly over the next nine months. Moore said construction would likely begin in 2011 and complete in 2012.

The Utopian vision is for 220 residential rental units on the corner of 14th and U Streets, with the building and all entrances facing 14th Street. Historic structures along U Street would remain, while their less historic neighbors will be sacrificed. An approved curb cut means that two levels of parking will be accessed from 14th Street, loading will take place in the back alley. Just a block from the U Street Metro, the new project will offer 150 parking spaces to service both retail and residential uses. The building with be tallest on U Street at 90 feet, stepping down to 65 feet, then 45 feet on the south side as it moves away from U Street. Moore plans 20,000 s.f. of retail and a roof top pool.

Though most of the buildings on 14th Street will be demolished, the historic structures along U Street will be spared by setting the project 60 feet back from U Street. Architect Eric Colbert of Eric Colbert & Associates said that the design process was highly collaborative, including near-monthly meetings with organizations such as the Dupont Circle Conservancy, the ANC and the Historic Preservation staff. Developers have pledged use of materials in keeping with the style of the neighborhood; team members consulted the community on window designs, and window and brick colors.

One "very important" aspect of the design, according to Colbert, is the density, which is greatest near U Street and gradually "terraces down towards the residential neighborhood to the south." Additionally, the architects "broke-up the facade" so that it reads as "different rowbuildings rather than some blockbuster building," according to the architect. The terracing is designed to provide a "sense of hierarchy of scale" instead of providing a flat, box-like facade from the street.

The team has not determined
whether or not it will seek LEED certification, though Colbert assures us that "we are definitely going to make it as green as possible...it's definitely the trend."

Washington, DC real estate development news

13 comments:

Ace in DC said...

So is the crappy McDonalds building staying? Don't mind a McDs - just not a dumpy one.

Anonymous said...

Oh please let that human sewer get knocked down...oh please...

Anonymous said...

Hell ya. That McDonald's is the Mos Eisley of 14th Street.

14th Hoodie said...

If you like crappy, obesity-inducing food and homeless patrons, its a perfectly reasonable place to enjoy a quasi-meal.

Que said...

I'd rather have a Mcdonalds with whatever food on the menu than bar after bar after bar with no other type of business

Anonymous said...

Que, then you should try 14th Street, since all the bars there have restaurant service as well - there is great food all around it. If fast food is your thing, move to the strip malls in the burbs.

Ace in DC said...

Love the plans for the new developement. I don't mind a McD's - I was just debating the need to keep the crappy McD's building. Obviously not historic - just not sure why they bought out all the other dumps and kept the McDs and couldn't fold it into the new developement plans. Maybe the new developement will get McD's coporate to upgrade the facilities - maybe turn it into a McCafe with nicer signage - some new paint, etc (same gross food though).

BeenHereLongerThanYou said...

Now don't be disrespecting my 14/U Mickey D's. I smoked my first rock with a tranny hooker in the men's room there in 1991. Ah, memories...

Frémontré Contessa said...

Brett, is that you ("BeenHereLongerThanYou"). It's me, your trans "freind" (you know what I mene. LOL) from the 1990s. WHOOWEE, we had some fun. Oh, right, you new me as "Sally" but now that I am a purformer, I changed my name to Frémontré Contessa. YES! I feel like I'm a freed womun with that name. Annyway, I WORK at that McDonald's now. YES! I think they are gruming me for a assistent maniger job. Frémontré is doing ok. I been clean for months at a time. But a little bit never hurt annybody, isn't that whut you always siad? Look me up baby. Some things hasn't changed.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the McDonalds, but there may ba a Waffle House compliments of Fred Smoot

http://dcist.com/2010/04/fred_smoot_hears_your_cries_for_waf.php

Mazzie on Apr 28, 2010, 9:50:00 AM said...

Maybe once 14 and U gets rid of its "rough spots" it can truly be post racial, like the rest of America.

O_o

Anonymous said...

at one point, wasn't there discussion of including a public library in this project? any idea what came of that?

Anonymous said...

i hope everyone who supports these condo high-rises is also willing to support really shitty traffic within the city. cars. awesome.

look what happened to arlington, dummies. lots of people in a small space = not the dc you love

 

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