Friday, December 07, 2012

Takoma Central Underway


Its been a long time coming, but construction at Takoma's metro-centered residential project is at last underway.  Developers have begun work at 233 and 235 Carroll Street, on the District's side of Takoma, on 2 buildings that add 150 rental apartments to the traditionally tranquil neighborhood.

Development partners Federal Capital Partners (FCP) and Level2 Development, (in a crowded field of partners that includes MCZ and SGA Architects), began work last week
on the pair of buildings designed by SGA Architects, a 4-story building at the corner of Maple Avenue and a 5-story adjacent building closer to the Metro station.

Now actively under construction, Level2 partner Jeff Blum says construction to start moving up from the bottom of the hole will commence "within the next few weeks."  His plan incorporates the original 4-story building, plus a new 5-story, warehouse-like building to the west, along with new mandates on what to build.  "The original project was designed and permitted under a set of zoning regulations that did not include the Takoma Overlay [increased density] nor inclusionary zoning [affordable housing requirements]. "  The ANC initially argued against the height, but Blum notes that the higher density is permitted under the new zoning, a decision he says is "appropriate because it is only a few hundred feet from the Metro station."

Each building will have its own parking garage (about 100 spaces total), with a total of 9700 s.f. of retail space.  The buildings will be wood-framed over concrete, with differing architectural styles - the 4-story building featuring an "art-deco flavor," and the other a 19th century red brick, warehouse style apartment building.  A "3-story glassy hyphen" will connect the two.  Developers are shooting for LEED certification this time around, and expect completion in March of 2014.

The project has long stuttered, and for those that enjoy the long, twisted tale that accompanies many development projects, the tale of Takoma Central doesn't disappoint.  Bethesda-based architecture firm SGA purchased the lot for redevelopment in 2004, with plans to build Ecco Park condominiums - "green," but not LEED certified, said the owner.

To prep, the developer partially remediated the soil on the former gas station site, then announced the project in 2006.  With nothing more than clean dirt at the site, the SGA sold a third of the 85 condos, but the coming housing bust forced the developer (and financial partners) to rethink, and like many other condo projects, the development went rental.  At least on paper.

Returning deposit checks, SGA announced the project would still go forward, now as an apartment building.  But financiers were as scarce as condo buyers, and it was not until August of 2010 that the developer thought it had a financial partner, and Ellisdale was awarded a $13m construction contract.  But financing was elusive, and it was not until early 2011 that Level2 and MCZ entered the picture to partner with SGA, acquiring the second site and expanding the scope of the project.  Finally, earlier this year, FCP joined the fray and the site took on new life.


"This is a neighborhood that is thirsting for new retail" says Blum of Level2, noting that the new streetscape "will better connect the Metro station to the existing shopping area on the Maryland side."  In addition to the extra retail frontage, Blum says the sidewalk "is going to be vastly improved" - "from a 4-ft path of lose bricks and other obstacles" to an 18-foot wide space, including 6-foot sidewalk and space for a sidewalk cafe, for "a much nicer, and safer, pedestrian experience." Hamel Builders is doing the construction.  Finally.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

BEAUTIFUL.

Anonymous said...

same relentless and incredibly boring flat rooftops- "architects" cannot build beautiful rooftops anymore. The best we can make is tarpaper. Our cities look like garbage from the air.The rooftop is the junkyard for the American modernist "architect". They completely drop it when it comes time to build a roof treatment- the best they can do is a "green roof" which is an aesthetic cop-out.

Anonymous said...

good thing don't live on the roofs.

Anonymous said...

Well it can hardly be called beautiful, but it certainly is an improvement and will help Takoma feel more like a real neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

"and will help Takoma feel more like a real neighborhood."

that's the beauty.

Anonymous said...

Takoma has been a real neighborhood now for about 130 years. As for this project, seeing is believing.

Anonymous said...

They've been claiming that building will commence "in the next few weeks" for most of 2012. Those of us who already do live in the already-real neighborhood of Takoma are used to this song and dance. It'd be great if it's true this time... but...

Anonymous said...

I've always felt that Takoma & Takoma Park were real neighborhoods with great character before downtown/midtown DC was revitalized. My friends and I always preferred to shop in Takoma than what downtown had and still has to offer. Now dtDC is much better but the shops and many of the restaurants, are for the most part, over-hyped and over-priced and it's become more corporate and crime is still an issue in certain areas which are now considered "hip" and boast "luxury" apartments. Thanks but no thanks, I'll take upper north west peace and tranquility, every time over hipness and crime.

I'm proud our little hamlet is safe and comprised of mostly independently owned businesses which are special and unique. I do hope it remains this way.

I feel the philosophy that this project will help "connect" Takoma with Takoma Park is valid if only for the fact that the sidewalks are terrible (as they are in many neighborhoods, like U St Corridor, for example).

I would also hope that some kind of grant can be used to spruce up the seen-better-days business strip of stores and restaurants on 4th (@ Butternut - where SiTea is located - a local business I adore) just adjacent to the metro station would be a wonderful welcome.

The Takoma Library restoration is gorgeous and then you wander along and come to that intersection (4th/Blair/Cedar) has bad feng shui. I've been hoping that something will be done to make that block nicer. My Little Bistro and Cedar Crossings look so nice but then across the street....well it's a different story.

And then there's the project at the old Walter Reed and (fingers crossed) creating a nicer vibe on Georgia Ave which I also believe will help Takoma/Takoma Park in experiencing a well-deserved renaissance.

Anonymous said...

Oh and I'm surprised that they cannot keep this building as condos rather than rentals? If the City Paper and blogs like Prince of Petworth, Borderstan etc....are to be believed, DC has has had a huge increase in population and there are more people staying on long-term than ever before. I would think this would mean more residents wanting to purchase homes rather than rent?

Anonymous said...

wow! do you think there will really be that one lovely tree!

Skidrowe said...

The facade designs aren't very interesting, but at least the differently-articulated portions actually appear quite different.

As for the previous comments, well I guess you can still count on Takoma bringing out eccentricities! Nice to see that some things never change.

Anonymous said...

It is exceedingly generous to call what remains of the sidewalk "a 4-foot path of lose (sic) bricks and other obstacles." Here's hoping we get a usable sideback back soon ... it's been years now since we've had one.

Anonymous said...

Hurrah! More people to support the local businesses.

Anonymous said...

I am anxiously anticipating completion of this project. It will bring more ridership to Metro, more activity to our increasingly thriving small town business area, more space for more people to get in on the awesome Takoma mojo!

Anonymous said...

Could we PLEASE get at least one more reasonably priced restaurant here in Takoma Park? Fingers crossed that the retail space will include one!

Anonymous said...

Hooray! About time. This project has taken forever.

 

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