Friday, November 12, 2010

Florida Ave Jungle to Make Way for Condos


The overgrown lots at 1421-1423 Flordia Avenue NW have changed hands several times over the last few years, but finally rest in the palms of a developer intent on moving forward with construction. Originally attracting the interest of Kady Group some time ago, the properties were acquired by Bogdan Builders in 2007 for $550,000, and now the paperwork is all but signed in a deal that sees the vacant lots into the arms of Sassan Gharai, founder of SGA Companies. In September, Gharai presented his plans for a six-story, 16-unit condominium to the Meridian Hill Neighborhood Association, and last month Chris Colross of SGA Architects presented his firm's plans to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). The Board adhered to assigned reviewer and preservation specialist Eldra D. Walker's recommendation to "approve the proposal in concept, delegating final approval to staff."

Rising 60 feet, the masonry clad apartment building will stack ten 2-bedroom/2-bath units and 4 studios atop an eight-space ground-floor garage. The roof of the garage will support a first-floor terrace garden, and each unit will feature either a full or Juliet balcony. While the proposed setback penthouses and an 8-to 12-foot elevator overrun are not counted toward a building’s height and do not require a zoning variance, the project still must go before the BZA, as the parking garage will require the frequently unpopular curb cut on Florida Avenue, resulting in the loss of one parking space (gasp).

Fitting snuggly into the rapidly transformed Greater U Street Historic District, SGA offers their staple - a traditionally inspired design sampling materials found throughout the storied neighborhood: brick, 2/2 windows, stone accents, and metal panels. "The building’s front, side and rear elevations will be fully articulated with ordered fenestration, brick pilasters with stone caps, and horizontal bands of stone," explains Eldra D. Walker, while "large recessed brick panels and a modern embattlement will crown the new structure." Despite the building's height, Walker found the architectural aesthetic to be "understated, calm, and residential in character."

Gharai seems to have his hands full designing and developing as of late, with news that his long-delayed Ecco Park is "back on track." Since Gharai delivered the Butterfield House in 2008 in the market has seen better days, to say the least, but some developers apparently smell a recovery. Quoted recently in the Takoma Park Newsletter, Gharai explained the significance of his decision to kick the 235 Carroll Street NW project back in gear: “I think what it shows is the market’s finally coming around because the banks are willing to lend again.” His optimism must also be the inspiration behind his plans to acquire and develop the lush Meridian Hill property, and hopefully a sign of more good news and development activity to come.


Washington D.C. Real Estate Development Blog

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic addition to the neighborhood. I've often wondered about this piece of land. 14th and Florida is getting a lot of action these days.

Anonymous said...

"A traditionally inspired design"? More like a traditionally UNinspired design. The U Street Corridor has actually gotten some fairly inventive architecture over the past few years, it would have been nice if this project had pushed the envelope a bit further. But instead we get "traditional." Yawn.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon #2. The facade is boooooring! It will certainly not fit with the current aesthetic direction for 14th and Florida.

Thanks a lot, HPRB!

 

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