Monday, September 27, 2010

DC's Highest Retail Site


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

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I favor the scale of this proposed project.

Anonymous said...

This shows that where there's a will, there's a way. The upscale, classy design may be the high point of Tenleytown, right after the new library which is also very glassy and classy. But we could use more of the same. Let's hope that the new owner of Babe's and the powers that be at Safeway get with the program and continue to invest in this dynamic up-and-coming neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

The post identifies the architect and the engineer, but who is the developer?

Ben said...

@Anonymous 1:52PM

Hopefully American University also relocates the law school from the suburban Spring Valley campus to Tenley Circle. The commitment to moving forward with the Giant project further south on Wisconsin Avenue is also a significant step for this corridor. As you mentioned, now lets get Babe's Billiards built.

historian4hire on Sep 27, 2010, 5:39:00 PM said...

Sorry, here's the formatted link:
http://wp.me/sQajR-tenley2.

Scott said...

Please, please, please make it a restaurant that caters to the urban clientele. All the restaurants in this neighborhood are tired and worn, and seem to serve the suburban stereotype. We could use something more interesting than Guapos and the crappy takeout places.

Anonymous said...

"glassy and classy?" "high point of Tenleytown?" Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder!

Le pooooooooo said...

It's a step in the right direction. The architectural style (and that of the library), may herald a new future for the area. Maybe it'll be the next u street! Uh.. I mean h street, or whatever. Lots of potential in that area... Seriously? It should be called upper upper Georgetown. :-)

Anonymous said...

UGLY!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful building. It is modern but elegant and very respectful of the historic tower behind it. You can see it from the front. I wish we could see more buildings like this in DC. A lot of the contemporary buildings we have are look the same. Good News for Tenley Town!!

Anonymous said...

Nice looking building. I hope more modern buildings come to tenley.

Anonymous said...

It is about time someone did something with that site - this is something this part of the city needs. Love the design - I'm excited to see this happen.

Anonymous said...

Awesome. That lot has been vacant far too long and this area could really use a nice restaurant.

Frank said...

Scott,

Guapos is very good if you like Mexican food. Chat Noir has some of the best French food in the city. Masala Art has top-notch gourmet Indian food and Matisse has a good reputation, though I've never been there. Also the new Pete's has been listed with some of the best pizza on the East Coast. Maybe you should get out more, learn to enjoy the Metro or move to NYC if this neighborhood is beneath your standards.

Anonymous said...

PLEASE give us a new high-end restaurant. We will support it!

Scott said...

If Guapos is your idea of good cuisine, try the McDonald's down the street, you might like that too. Its Mexican food. Not bad, but not worth visiting more than once in a great while. Pete's is fantastic, I haven't been to Chat Noir since they gave me worthlessly small crepe for $13.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting addition to Tenley!! I like that the historic tower is visible from the side and and fist level of the new building. ! assume that will be some kind of restaurant. There also seems to be space for outdoor seating. That will help that bare and beat up sidewalk feel much better. Given what is there right now, this is great for the area.

Anonymous said...

is grupo7 any relation to guapo's? hmmm....think about it, people.

Anonymous said...

Please consider putting a child care option in the building! This area of town has very few childcare providers and many children! The community would welcome it!!

 

DCmud - The Urban Real Estate Digest of Washington DC Copyright © 2008 Black Brown Pop Template by Ipiet's Blogger Template