Thursday, February 28, 2008

HPRB to Review 14th and U

Plans for a mixed-use apartment and retail project at the southwest corner of 14th and U Streets in NW will be on review today, as Robert Moore of Georgetown Strategic Capital LLC (GSC) and Eric Colbert & Associates appear before the Historic Preservation Review Board. They last met in December when the developer and architect presented their initial concept ideas for Utopia (as it is referred to around GSC's office), but HPRB recommended they alter the design to reduce the impact with the smaller buildings in the surrounding historic area. The property is currently owned by F.S. People's Realty Company and Jenco Group, which is currently negotiating a long term ground lease with GSC for the development.

GSC's preliminary plans (rendering above, depicting the west side of 14th St) propose construction of 230 rental apartments in a seven to ten-story building at the corner of 14th and U streets, which Moore expects will attract young professionals. And not without reason; one block to the east, Donatelli Development's Ellington apartment building has maintained high occupancy with some of the highest residential rents in the area. In the current design, GSC will offer a range of units from studios to small two bedroom apartments, but averaging around 750 square feet. The building will be a block from the 13th and U St. metro station, for what Moore calls an affordable, "urban living experience."

GSC also plans 20,000 s.f. of retail on the first floor, doubling the 20,000 s.f. of existing retail in vintage buildings along U Street, which will be incorporated.
According to Moore, "People are welcoming this change to the neighborhood. This is a strip that isn't very attractive right now. We hope to bring an exciting new mixed-use building to the neighborhood, and provide much needed affordable rental apartments."

Eleven historic buildings exist on the site within the U Street Historic District and Uptown Arts Overlay zone. None will be removed, although some non-historic buildings will be torn down for the project. The plan incorporates some of these historic elements, such as the frontage of rehabilitated buildings on U St. and three small commercial storefront buildings on 14th St., which combines a mix of historic and architecturally insignificant new buildings that are blessed with such retail as McDonald's and other fast food take-outs.

The main problem
HPRB wanted to see altered was, of course, the height and density of the buildings in relation to the smaller surrounding edifices. The new conceptual idea, to be discussed today, includes two components to relate to the two different zoning categories, the southern half being low density and the northern half allowing for higher density.

Although planners hope to have their designs approved today, both HPRB and Moore said there will likely be further follow up meeting between the groups to iron out differences. The designs will then move on to the Board of Zoning Adjustment before any construction will take place. GSC plans on beginning construction in 2009 with completion in the beginning of 2011.


Shaw Rez on Feb 28, 2008, 5:42:00 PM said...

Is this project expected to displace -- even "temporarily" -- such restaurants as Utopia, Coppi's, and Simply Home? If so, we'll gladly take 'em in Shaw on 9th Street!

Anonymous said...

I hope this project goes through. With that location being so close to a Metro station, there should be more density there.

Anonymous said...

The U street establishments will remain open through the construction period.

Anonymous said...

urban infill is better than suburban sprawl, people are finally realizing this

Sean Hennessey on Feb 29, 2008, 12:21:00 PM said...

Anonymous said...

urban infill is better than suburban sprawl, people are finally realizing this



IMGoph on Mar 1, 2008, 8:12:00 AM said...

if this moves through quickly (which i hope it does), my only question will be....

....why the hell can't the city do the same with things like the O street market redevelopment. why does it take so damn long to get things moving in some parts of the city?

Anonymous said...

urban infill is better than suburban sprawl

For those who can afford it, sure. Everybody else who can't afford $1200 a month rent or a $450k studio is stuck with sprawl.

Anonymous said...

godwilling this project will get rid of the eyesore McDonald's and the TacoHell/KY-fried chicken huts!

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