Tenleytown, averse to the larger developments in demand around the rest of DC, must get its much-needed retail in little bursts. Such is the case at 4619 41st Street, at Wisconsin Avenue, which happens to be the highest retail point in the city - elevation, that is. But just because it is located on the side of Fort Reno, don't expect grand views; the building will rise only 4 stories, nearly opposite the Metro station, with space for "1 or 2 restaurants," a small retail element in the basement, office space, and a small number of residences above.
Owner 4619 41st LLC has begun construction on the site, certainly better known for what it was than what it will be. The land abuts the landmarked Western Union tower, an art deco, 73-foot limestone tower designed as a microwave relay station to replace wired telegraphy, the first structure in the country built for that purpose. The construction site also was used briefly by American Tower for a 760-foot behemoth that would have dwarfed others nearby, but was heavily protested by neighbors who fought the concentration of radio towers on the visible site. The tower was about 50% completed when the city forced it to halt construction, the tower sat half-finished for several years before coming down in 2007.
Engineers for the site call the project one of the more technically difficult sites to work on, with the tiny site adjoining the Western Union tower and Dancing Crab, both of which have to be dug below and underpinned, caisson footings from the removed radio tower have to be excavated, and a Metro tunnel underneath that WMATA doesn't really want punctured.
The engineering firm seems up to the task. KCE Structural Engineers has been part of $42 billion worth of construction projects, having engineered Washington Harbor, Federal Triangle, the John Wilson building addition, Bethesda Metro Center, the PTO building in Alexandria, and Arena Stage. KCE Principal Allyn Kilsheimer has a more personal connection with the construction site, having grown up in the neighborhood and having been part of the engineering team that readapted the Western Union tower as a junior engineer at Beall & Lemay in the early '60's. Kilsheimer went on to found KCE in 1968, engineering buildings throughout DC and beyond. With such eminence in the engineering world, Kilsheimer was called to the World Trade Center site on September 11, 2001, but, barely en route, got the call that he was needed at the Pentagon and had to turn around. Kilsheimer went on to lead the Phoenix Project team, which rebuilt the Pentagon under budget and ahead of schedule.
"This is a very, very complicated building" said Kilsheimer. "We're now doing the underpinning of the Crab Shack and tower, the foundation should be laid in 3-4 months." Georgetown based Grupo7, which has worked with the Ed Peete company on numerous interior designs and restaurant build-outs, is providing architectural design. With Tenley's Babes and Safeway going nowhere, the new restaurants will add some flavor at the top of DC.
Washington DC real estate development news