Monday, September 19, 2011

New Plan for Oldest Apartment in DC

In the past five years, the 123-year-old Harrison Flats at 704 3rd St, NW - the eldest conventional apartment building in the District - has changed ownership three times; a change that has brought three different plans for restoration and reuse of the historic landmark to the Historic Preservation Review Board.

The latest plan, by current owner the Zuckerman Brothers Inc., is for a 12-story hotel with ground-floor restaurant and/or bar (rendering from ANC 6C meeting posted in June) designed by R2L:Architects.

In June of 2010, the Zuckerman Brothers purchased the property for $8.5 million. The plan will be reviewed by the HPRB this Thursday, the 22nd. ANC 6C approved the project in June, when presented by Goulston and Storrs' Andi Adams, R2L's Sacha Rosen, and owner Stuart Zuckerberg.

Two previous plans, both approved by the HPRB, were submitted in 2006 and 2008 (11-story office addition). Tim Dennee of the HPO, said that the three proposals in the last five years have been for "additions of roughly the same size, but the amount of demolition proposed has increased each time." In large part, this is due to significant deterioration of the building within the last seven years; resulting in much of the property having been deemed structurally unsound by an engineer. Dennee wrote in his report, "The condition of the building has declined dramatically in the years since the staff first toured it (about 2004)."

Tim Dennee's staff report states that although the Harrison was designed as apartments, the federal government leased the building in 1889 to use as an executive office for the Census Bureau, a move which resulted in the north addition "structured for office loading and to be 'fire proof,' with a system of steel columns and beams supporting brick and concrete floor arches, [whereas] the original, south section had been conventionally framed with wood."

Designed by John C. Johnson and Charles E. Gibbs, in 1888, the 5-story building (with basement level that served as a cafe around the turn of the 20th century) is an example of Romanesque Revival architecture. As use of the Harrison Flats has evolved over the past century, some may know the building as the "Astoria" (as it was renamed in 1899) or the "Canterbury" (in 1941).

Now boarded-up, and vacant for the past eight years, the property is currently being used by a small contingent of the District's homeless population.

Update: Renderings from the ANC meeting in June show the design before slight changes, requested by the ANC, were made to the project by the development-and-design team and re-presented to the ANC in September.

Washington D.C. real estate development news


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The plans have actually changed slightly during the summer, and ANC 6C reviewed and approved the revised project at its September meeting.

The changes include reducing the parking and adding more interesting fenestration. This will be a great addition to the neighborhood.

JT said...

This is one of the most attractive old apartment buildings in DC. Shame that developers get to sit on these things until they are ready to fall apart, and that the DC gov doesn't protect the building.


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