Friday, September 17, 2010

Phase II Underway at Capitol Hill Oasis


"Capitol Hill Oasis" sounds like the place to be, especially after a long, frustrating day amidst the incessant bickering on the actual Hill's desert of political disputation. But unless you consider "SoFlo" (South of Florida Ave) and "Capitol Hill" interchangeable monikers, and/or your idea of an "oasis" is eight dingy, brown brick prefab townhomes instead of gushing springs of purified water, palm trees, and lush fauna, then you're likely to be disappointed after visiting the residential project at 12th Street and Florida Ave, NE. While the marketing may be clever, it doesn't seem to be swaying any would-be buyers, as the homes at 915 thru 935 12th Street, NE, completed in mid 2008, remain vacant and unspoken for, with no one taking them up on the original $1.5m asking price (long since cut in half). But the inability to find tenants for the initial eight houses hasn't deterred developers 12th Street Partners, LLC and G. B. Herndon & Associates, Inc from pressing forward, as phase two of the development began recently.

Two more townhouses, both five bedroom units, are set to be constructed in addition to the planned four-story, 16-unit condominium on the lot directly behind the already built rowhouses. The new condominiums include office suites that may end up as small doctor's offices, according to the developer. Sales representative Jesse Kaye of Prudential Carruthers says that the units are zoned for commercial use, so the developers would consider leasing to small businesses if they continue to have trouble selling and/or leasing to full time residents. Kaye also explained that while they have not officially leased or sold any units, they have had communication of sincere, solid interest from several parties (his words). Even if there were deals in place, the units won't be ready for occupancy until mid October, he elaborated, when some basic utilities installation for phase two is completed.

The developers describe the project as a "distinguished group of all-new residences incorporating an artful blend of traditional Washington architectural styling." Apparently the factory attendants at Deluxe Homes in Pennsylvania, where the pieces of these assembled modular homes were produced, are very knowledgeable about the District's historic rowhouse architecture. Tim Brown at Urban Turf contends that: "When the units are finally completed, it is nearly impossible to differentiate modular homes from homes built with traditional construction methods." But even Paul Wilson, an architectural consultant on the project (in a very "limited role"), said that while prefab housing makes the construction process easier and more cost effective, and also allows better quality control, it can also result in a definite "cookie cutter look." While the exterior might not be exactly distinguished, the amenities package may appeal to the fitness-averse home buyer, as each of the completed units contains an in-house elevator so residents of the lazy persuasion won't have to think about climbing all the way to the fourth floor.

Neighbors seem to have mixed feelings about the development. Some are happy to see activity in the area, but anxious to have the residencies occupied instead of unattended and neglected. But it seems others have found the development a nuisance to their quality of life. One nearby resident has reportedly "complained to the city on multiple occasions for standing water, late night construction, and impediments to parking/access." During the time lapse between phase one and phase two one neighbor has witnessed "a nasty fence [fall] into disrepair, weeds [become] small trees, mounds of dirt [become] fertile soil, and an abandoned truck find its final resting home." No timetable has been supplied for the phase two of construction. Given that completion of phase one lasted roughly 2 years, neighbors might be complaining for a bit longer.

Washington D.C. Real Estate Development News

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

They haven't sold because they are PAINFULLY UGLY. The picture doesn't do justice to the full horror on the eyes of an in person viewing. I hope the developers lose their shorts.

Anonymous said...

They also have done zero prep to the surrounding grounds. They've sat in dried mud for 10 months at least. If they had trees, bushes, and a lawn out there..... People might buy. Being right next to Trinidad doesn't help. Plus, their across the street from the intersection where a dude escaping the cops rolled his car onto two little kids, killing them. Crime is a huge factor in that location.

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered how this project snuck through the planning/approval process. In addition to the observations above, the floor plans of those things are about the weirdest ever (maybe they are just innovative?). They are available on the project site www.capitolhilloasis.com, itself a must-read.

Anonymous said...

They need a new word for 'ugly' and 'irresponsible'. Why has the city not taken action on this?

Steve said...

They are so butt ugly and have absolutely nothing in common with the style and architectural language of anything else within 10 blocks, unless you count the fact that they're skinny and in rows like a rowhouse. The favorable comparisons end there. They should have to pay us money to look at these awful things that belong nowhere within the fabric of the old city. I'm pretty sure my 7-year old niece could spend a week looking at rowhouses in the city and design something better that actually looks like it belongs here. I hope they lose their shorts and the city makes them tear it down and they have to give away the property to someone who knows what they're doing and cares about producing a product that actually looks halfway decent. -end screed-

Jamie on Sep 20, 2010, 10:36:00 AM said...

Looked at those floorplans. Indeed bizarre. Who needs five bathrooms in a townhouse? Why would you put the staircase in the middle of the house? All that space, and not a single big room? Small kitchen with no separate dining area? There's no way you could even fit a real table in that kitchen.

For a four level house it sure looks cramped, half of each level is consumed by stairs, elevators, bathrooms and hallways. Truly bizarre.

Anonymous said...

As others have said about, the layout is truly bizarre. How can such a large house be so cramped?

The only thing I can see making sense in that space is a group house.

~bcc

Anonymous said...

Not to pile on, but these are truly awful. I've seen very nice modular homes and this is just the result of bad architecture.

Also, nobody mentioned the bizarre condition of having the kitchen and living room on different floors. I've seen a lot of strange living conditions in DC, but this one takes the cake.

Anonymous said...

@Jaimie: It's a little known fact that in about 2004 all Washingtonians lost the ability to hold their bladder while going up stairs or walking more than 20 feet.

Jamie on Sep 20, 2010, 1:23:00 PM said...

Ah, that would explain the smell in my neighborhood.

Hiller said...

I looked at those floorplans way back and agree. But in defense of the developers, they may have designed some absolutely unlivable buildings that look like blight on the neighborhood and will never sell, but they saved themselves a little money by not having to pay a real architect.

Jamie on Sep 20, 2010, 2:10:00 PM said...

There's a pic of the original shells on Frozen Tropics today. Quite nice looking, classic DC townhouses. Why didn't they just gut them and use a standard modern floorplan, like people do about every single day?

It would have surely cost them a fraction of what these did, and they would have probably had just as much living area in two stories when all was said and done...

Oh well there's no accounting for crazy.

Anonymous said...

Found a blog some guy wrote yesterday that includes a pic taken of the building at the intersection. It gives depth to how ugly they are in their urban setting. http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Okay.Can someone please explain to me why there would be a Living room on the First floor and a Kitchen/Bedroom on the second? Normally in a townhome or rowhome or any home for that matter, the kitchen and the living room are mostly on the same floor and then the bedrooms are on a separate floor or at least in a different section of the dwelling. Not within the same vicinity of the kitchen, unless it is a studio.

Anonymous said...

Also, their website has a tab that gives information to people with disabilities. How would they be able to live in such a place in which the ground work is not prepared, there are no accessibility ramps in order for them to gain access to the dwelling and let's not forget the unforsaken floor plans that remain in which the living room is on the first floor and the kitchen and bedrooms are on the upper levels, without any elevator access.

Anonymous said...

I've just viewed the blog at urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com and all I can say is damn. This is just totally hideous. I wish I could think of a way to suggest beautifying the development, but I just can't think of anything.

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting considering Phase 1 is being auctioned off at 2 pm on Friday.

You can check this out at Frozen Tropics.blogspot. The info for Tidewater Auctions is on there and Phase 1's auction info in on Tidewater's website.

Anonymous said...

Did the writer even read what he wrote? The second sentence includes:
"But unless you consider "SoFlo" (South of Florida Ave) and "Capitol Hill" interchangeable monikers, and/or your idea of an "oasis" is eight dingy, brown brick prefab townhomes instead of gushing springs of purified water, palm trees, and lush fauna, then you're likely to be disappointed"

Does this mean that it does have gushing springs of purified water, palm trees and lush fauna? Perhaps you should have written 'then you WON'T be disappointed'.

Brooks Butler Hays on Sep 21, 2010, 11:21:00 AM said...

I don't profess to pen perfect prose, but I do read my writing, apparently better than anon10:58, and I think if you read it back with special attention paid to and emphasis put on the world UNLESS, then you'd realize that the sentence does read correctly. We do appreciate your concern.

Anonymous said...

Okay, since these things that are already built seems as if they are more suitable for office or commercial scale development, then I just believe that they should be auctioned of as such. I mean look at the floor plans. They look more like something that could, would and should be either for the purposes of business or at least a "work/live" development, since it is not to far off from the Newly up and coming H Street Development and the proposed and "hopefully" pursued plans for the Florida Avenue Market. They can even be used as Dormitory Quarters for Galludet University. Anything but being used as solely residential, because they are just-and I haven't used this terms since my teens, "Butt Ugly".

IMGoph on Sep 21, 2010, 9:57:00 PM said...

i think the only problem in your prose is putting an abortion like "soflo" to press in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Those renderings on the front page (of the website)!

Anonymous said...

Hey, it looks like crap. It does not even look like something that belongs in that zone."Soflo" should've had some input in how the development should've looked in the first place. Now what you currently have here is a piece of property with dwellings sitting on top of it that has not sold since it has been last completed-due to its ugliness and the purchasing price that they were asking for this piece of "ugliness". The only other thing that could even be suggested other than converting these buildings into either; commercial, dormitory or "affordable housing", would be to tear the piece of "sh*t" down and just sell the property to commercial investors or at best, sell it back to the city. Either way, I doubt that any profit will be made aside from the previously suggested.

Anonymous said...

None of the condo plans even have a window in any of the kitchens or living rooms...who is this architect and why must affordable mean unlivable?

Michael and Jamie on Sep 28, 2010, 11:38:00 AM said...

These were on the foreclosure auction block scheduled for 2PM Friday, Sept. 22nd, then suddenly pulled at 1:57PM. Does anyone have any information on this or any theories on why a property would be pulled last minute from going to auction?

Also does anyone have any photo documentation of this site from 2007-2009?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there are some wounded vets that might appreciate living in a home with an elevator, especially if unable to find a ranch-style home in the area they desire. Other than that, I'm not sure why else an elevator would be installed in a modest 4-story town home.

 

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