The Heights at Georgia Avenue is closer to beginning construction this summer, a little over a year after the development team received zoning approval to replace surface parking lots and older commercial buildings with a new mixed-use development. Project partners Neighborhood Development Company (NDC) and non-profit Mi Casa, Inc. have filed for construction permits to build the six-story, 69-unit apartment building. The new building, at the corner of Georgia Ave. and Lamont Street, will sit only a few blocks from the planned development at Park Morton. Estimates have the building delivering in early 2012, a bit behind its original plans for opening in early 2011.
The development team is working with Grimm + Parker Architects on the design. The project will have a green roof, with solar panels that power some of the common area lighting. Adrian Washington, a Principal at NDC, said the design team wanted to make a statement about the "important corner" and that the rooftop trellis element "creates a strong corner" for the block, while the rest of the design strikes a balance between a contemporary building and something that "fits with the neighborhood." The apartment building will deliver over 10,000 s.f. of ground floor retail and 69 rental units, half of which will be affordable housing available at 60% to 80% AMI. Within walking distance to the Georgia Avenue/Petworth metro station, the building will offer residents 29 below-grade parking spaces.
Since receiving zoning approval in March of 2009, the development team has been working on finalizing plans to apply for permits, negotiating relocation agreements with existing businesses and securing financing. In January, the District Council approved a $447,000 tax abatement for the project and the team has an application in with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for additional financing options. "We're on track for everything...the financing is what is slowing us down" explained Washington. The HUD application process is "taking a lot longer than we thought it would take," he added, but the federal housing agency is "the only game in town," so wait they must.
Washington said his team has spoken with two or three potential tenants, but no one wants to make a commitment this far in advance, "nothing much is going to happen until you've got a building that is coming up." The developer described the attitude he and his partners at MiCasa have for the project as "bullish." That said, Washington admits "developing infill sites in the city especially in neighborhoods in transition is hard" especially in this "very difficult economic environment."
The developers purchased the property in June of 2008 for $2.75 million under the entity Georgia and Lamont Limited Partnership. Hamel Builders is the general contractor.
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