Monday, April 30, 2012

Penrose Square Town Center in Arlington is Under Way

Carbon Thompson Development, the Herndon- and Dallas-based developer, has donated a parcel equal to approximately half the area of the Penrose Square open space plaza as part of an agreement with Arlington County to emphasize the creation of usable public space along what is being conceived as three miles of pedestrian-friendly commercial boulevard. When finished, the $80 million, 4-acre Penrose Square mixed-use development at Columbia Pike and S. Barton St. will include 299 rental units, 30,000 SF of retail, including restaurants and retail, a new 47,000 s.f. "flagship" Giant grocery store, and 700 parking spaces, mostly underground. Site owner B.M. Smith chose Carbon Thompson, which started construction in June when it demolished Adams Square and began the two-year construction project. with financing from Wachovia Bank, RBS Citizens. Foulger-Pratt Construction of Rockville is the general contractor and Heffner Architects PC of Alexandria the designer of the buildings. "We went through the form-based code process with two architects. One focused on residential and the other on the retail portion of the design. Ultimately, we went with Heffner Architects because they have experience in both types of development," reported Jim Mertz of Carbon Thompson.

The project took advantage of the Columbia Pike Form Based Code, which is optional to developers, but significantly reduces the public review process for getting projects approved. An appointed citizen group and county officials drafted the code collaboratively. They outlined measures for regulating the location of the building site; architectural standards, including building materials, facade design, placement and appearance of windows, doors and parapets; building envelope standards, which specify building height by stories rather than floor-to-floor height; and streetscape standards, which regulate public right-of-way elements like sidewalk width, treescape, civic plazas and open space. There were no stylistic specifications in the code. Although the project conforms to the form-based code, because there was no provision for a grocery store in the zoning regulation, Penrose Square had to resubmit for approval as a 4.1 site plan project. A minor detour, the site plan submittal process ensures that the development is mindful of its neighbors during the construction process and allows for the demolition of existing structures, foundation setting, ground-level garage permitting and building construction approvals in stages.

"Form-based codes allow for greater development density. The point of this development was to spur economic growth and activity along Columbia Pike. The county spent four years meeting with citizens determining what they wanted it to be," said Mertz.

Penrose Square is located within walking distance of the already completed Halstead and Sienna Park developments. The town center at Penrose will be easily accessible to both drivers and those who prefer to walk, but overall, the area will function like a walkable community.

Penrose Square: The Open Space Plan

When Penrose Square is complete, you will be able to experience monolithic radio communication in the heart of Arlington County's Columbia Pike revitalization corridor. Last July, DC Mud wrote a story on The Virginia Department of Transportation's plans to link key locations along the Columbia Pike zoning district via streetcar. Zeroing in on Columbia Pike between South Cleveland St. and South Barton St., imagine two sculptures carved out of white granite and about 100 feet apart oriented on a NW to SE diagonal. Each slab is poised upward and has rough, irregular edges, and each faces the hollow elliptical paraboloid concavity of the other. Designed by California sculptor Richard Deutsch in collaboration with the DC-based landscape designer OCULUS, Echo will mimic the way sound travels across radio waves. The shape and orientation of the concavities of the sculptures will be orchestrated to convey even very low amplitude sound (like a whisper) from one granite station to the other. From 1913 until 1941, a nearby site on Columbia Pike was home to three radio-communication towers - the "Three Sisters," which sent some of the first radio signals to the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 1915. Deutsch's sculpture refers to this local history at the request of the 12-member, citizen-run Working Group that the Arlington County Board put together to help conceive of the design for Penrose Square.
Less means more planning
The two-piece interactive sculpture will be set on a quadrangle with a paved central plaza, buffered with a bosque terrace feature with outdoor seating to the northeast, a bermed lawn buttressed with retaining walls to the south, a zero-depth water feature to the southeast and another smaller lawn with tree canopy and retaining walls to the west.

"We envision that people using the grocery store and adjacent buildings will be coming to the park to relax and take a break. We have designed custom, movable seating for the bosque and a fountain with 27 jets at different heights that people will be able to walk up to and touch. The space is designed to accommodate large-scale events and large crowds, as well," remarked Marjorie Salcedo, a landscape architect and project manager on Penrose.

According to the meeting minutes of a July 2008 meeting of the citizen Working Group, "The Group aimed to pursue a square that would: be scaled to relate to the adjacent buildings; form a synergy with adjacent retail shops; be flexible enough to address daily needs as well as host special events; be inclusive and welcoming to people of all ages and abilities; be oriented toward transit; provide strong visual and physical connections to Columbia Pike; offer a variety of seating opportunities; and adhere to the design guidelines for civic squares contained in the Columbia Pike Form Based Code."

The future Super Stop station, designed by Arlington County for buses, will run parallel to Columbia Pike south of the 33,000 SF plaza, which will be build in two phases. Phase I is estimated to break ground in Spring of 2011.

New Wheaton Site for Mixed-Use Residential

The Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is offering another parcel for development in Wheaton, this one zoned for a potentially large residential and retail development.

The closed-bid offering posted last week for a 3.83-acre vacant lot at 11507 Georgia Avenue in the Wheaton Central Business District. The new space is in addition to two other parcels previously offered up for development.
Map of lot for sale and neighboring area. Source: WMATA website

Jonathan Walk, an associate with Jones Lang LaSalle Americas Inc. working with WMATA to facilitate the transaction, said the group realized it could sell the vacant lot while pushing for development of a nearby site.

"This is something where they know they don’t need this land -- they’ll never need this land," Walk said.

Montgomery County recently up-zoned the lot with the Wheaton CBD and Vicinity Sector Plan. The new CR zoning allows up to 250 apartments and 80,000 s.f. of retail. WMATA will retain an underground easement and a small piece of the southwest corner of the lot. Initial bids are due June 15.

This deal could be easier than some, Walk said, because it involves a fee simple transfer instead of a ground lease or joint development effort.

WMATA has been selling land for redevelopment like the JBG Companies development planned for Florida Avenue and the Monument and Akridge developments at Half and M streets.

At the same time WMATA hopes to acquire a much bigger parcel, the transit authority is searching for 7 to 10 acres in the District for bus garages.

Wheaton, Maryland, real estate development news

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Your Next Place


Who doesn't love a huge two-level three bedroom that's also reasonably priced?  No one, that's who.  It has universal appeal and is perfect for pretty much any situation.  A lot like an Ed Hardy trucker cap, except, you know, the complete opposite.

Located in the Leah, on Capitol Hill, this huuuuuge three bedroom is all class.  Though it's new construction, the brickwork and architecture is perfectly in keeping with the neighborhood, while still maintaining that distinct patina of "newness."  The living room is massive, with acres of hardwood, and discreet recessed lighting, the kitchen is immaculately outfitted, and you walk through to a sweet wooden deck in the rear of the building.  Upstairs, the master bedroom is almost embarrassingly large.  I mean, the master bedroom alone would make a fantastic loft apartment. I bet you could fit two regulation Slip n' Slides end to end in here, which is definitely something to keep in mind for next Valentine's Day.

Again, it's new construction, which I think I like.  I mean, I appreciate some finely-aged woodwork and classic architecture as much as the next guy, but a new place has its upside.  I was in my apartment's crawlspace the other day, and I found a single white sock up there, leftover from a previous tenant.  I don't know why, but it really disturbed me, it was like a metaphor for the impermanence of life, like when you're out with your significant other and run into one of their exes.  Say what you want about a new building, but you will never ever find someone else's sock in the crawlspace.

324 12th Street NE #4
3 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths

Washington D.C. real estate news

Friday, April 27, 2012

Work Begins on Founders Square Residential Building

Excavation has begun for the 17-story, mixed-use residential and retail building at Founders Square called The Place.

Crews are digging at 4000 Wilson Blvd. in Ballston to prepare the lot for construction, said Kevin Shooshan, leasing and marketing director at the Shooshan Company. Preparation work for the proposed LEED Silver building includes cleansing the soil at the former brownfield site.

Construction of The Place (left) is underway. An office building (right) also is planned for the site.
KBR Building Group received the construction contract last month and began work soon after, a spokeswoman for the company said. She said construction would be completed by early 2014, but Shooshan said the building would be finished at the end of next year.

The Place has nearly 9,000 s.f. of retail space below the residential units. Shooshan said he is not yet leasing space, but a roughly 5,000 s.f. area targets a restaurant/bar, with the rest well-suited for smaller restaurants and cafes that cater to the businesses and residents in the area.  On average, apartments are just under 800 s.f.   Residents -- especially those on the upper floors -- will have views of the District to the east, Shooshan said. There will be 280 parking spaces on four below-grade levels.

Shooshan closed in February on a $71.1 million loan from SunTrust to build The Place, one of four buildings slated for the company's mixed-use development designed by RTKL that includes residential, office and hotel space with about 25,000 s.f. of retail spread throughout.

A few months ago, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) moved into a 13-story, 350,000-square-foot, LEED Gold office building completed in the first phase of development.

The Donohoe Companies is working on an 11-story, 182-room, LEED Silver Residence Inn by Marriott just to the south, crews have already built up to the sixth floor.

The fourth building, just east of The Place at 4040 Wilson Blvd., is planned as a 20-story, 400,000 s.f., LEED Gold office building. Work has not started on the last building.

Arlington, Va., real estate development news

Thursday, April 26, 2012

HPRB Hears Hine Project Changes

Changes to the Hine Project, such as reducing the height of a penthouse, improving transitions and adjusting facades, helped resolve some issues for the Historic Preservation Review Board, which voted today to approve a staff report recommendation that concludes "the revisions improve the compatibility of the conceptual plan and (are) consistent with the purposes of the preservation act."

The Board last approved a concept review for the development effort at the old Hine Junior High School Site near Eastern Market in August, at which time Board members offered guidance for further plan development.

Architect Amy Weinstein, a principal at Esocoff and Associates/Weinstein Studio, presented the revised plans and explained the changes to the Board, many members of which were not part of the initial concept review.

Changes include:
  • The alley side of the residential building on C Street was redesigned using different materials to set apart the base, core and top of the building similar to the front design.
  • New design features throughout the development include panel brick ornamentation, rolled coping in cast stone and copper, and bridged bay projections.
  • The 5-story piece on 8th Street transitions to the rest of the building with rolled edges and varied materials.
  • At D Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, the bays are extended and bridged to connect the retail spaces.
  • A larger setback and reduced height moves the penthouse above the office building at 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue farther out of view.
  • Twisted brick columns were added to the windows and clustered at the corner of 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • The plaza component at 7th and C streets now has more of a "late Victorian vocabulary."
7th Street
Although the Board did approve the staff report, members voiced concerns with the project.

Recommendations for continued development included more attention to the C Street alley design, reconsidering the water feature, looking at ways to better transition from residential to office space, and - this being DC - reducing building height.

Stanton-EastBanc team is developing the site, Oehme van Sweden is the landscape architect.

Washington, D.C., real estate development news

Today in Pictures - CityCenter


Work on CityCenterDC continues.  The project's plans for nearly 700 units of housing, 185,000 s.f. of retail, and 520,000 s.f. of office space are now rising well above ground.  Below are recent pictures of the site. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Affordable Housing Complex Delayed


A proposed 59-unit affordable housing project in Alexandria, at the corner of East Reed Avenue and Route 1/Jefferson Davis Highway, has been delayed a year after developers at AHC, Inc. missed a mid-March deadline for their affordable housing tax credit application.  Developers are now aiming for a March 2013 application.

Though the project has been in the works for almost two years, a number of issues prevented the application from coming together in time. While city planners supported the project, calling it "an excellent opportunity to secure affordable housing, with minimal City financial support, in an area that will soon redevelop in a way that would likely make such a project unfeasible in the future due to escalating land values," they also raised concerns over the streetscaping. Planners also cited the possibly inadequate amount of parking contained in the proposed design (0.7 spaces per unit rather than their preferred ratio of 1.1 spaces per unit), and redesigns couldn't be produced in time to accommodate required public hearings and the tax credit deadline.

The proposed project, designed by Bonstra | Haresign, would assemble the city-owned parcel at 3600 Jefferson Davis Highway with three privately-owned adjacent parcels at 120 and 118 E. Reed Avenue (which AHC currently has under site control), as the site of a five-story multi-family apartment building, owned and operated by AHC.  Preliminary concept plans call for one- and two-bedroom units at 60% of AMI (about $56,000/yr), though the exact orientation of the building is still under discussion.

"We're still talking about the exact placement of the building," said John Welsh, Vice President at AHC, of the present timeline.  "Ideally, we'd like to conclude zoning and planning by the summer, apply for the financing in March of next year, close sometime in July, and then start construction in the fall.  The city is still interested, they've just asked for some followups.  We're going to keep this thing going."

Complications relating to funding may also have contributed to the delays.  The project is being funded by a complicated package of tax credits, AHC investment, and an approximately $1.1 million affordable housing loan from the city.  AHC would pay market value to the city for the vacant lot at 3600 Jefferson Davis Highway, but would seek to defer this payment (with interest) until after the 15-year tax credit period.  The addition of a parking garage caused the amount of the required city loan to balloon, necessitating another analysis by the City Office of Housing, and a redetermination in the amount of the loan.

AHC, Inc., a nonprofit developer of affordable housing, has developed 38 housing projects since 1975 containing over 3,200 units; this is their first project in Alexandria.

Alexandria, Virginia real estate development news

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Changes Slow and Steady in Mount Rainier


About 18 months ago, Prince George's County approved the amended Mount Rainier Mixed-Use Town Center Zone Development Plan to guide the city toward greater development and prosperity focused on the area of Rhode Island Avenue and 34th Street, a bid to reshape the city's urban heart and stimulate economic expansion in the historic commercial core.

"We haven’t seen a lot of changes yet," Mount Rainier City Manager Jeannelle Wallace said. "But we will, probably, in the next few months."

The City purchased land for re- development, continued a grant program, repurposed a vacant lot and will support the upcoming Citizen Paint Project.

Wallace said the City understood its importance as a gateway between the District and Maryland and purchased the former funeral home and a former liquor store in an effort to generate a new development.

"We wanted to have an impact," she said. "And you can’t do that when you have other people who own the property and control the development. So now we do."

The old funeral home sits empty at the intersection of Eastern and Rhode Island avenues, greeting traffic into and out of the District. The City put it out to bid for redevelopment with at least eight companies expressing interest in the project. Proposals now are due by May 30.

Wallace said the City would like to see a 3- or 4-story mixed-use building with retail on the ground floor, residences and office space on upper levels, and some form of onsite parking. But other plans for the site also will be considered -- the height and uses are not set in stone.

"Primarily we’re looking for something that will increase pedestrian traffic along that corridor," Wallace said, adding that contributing to the arts district and incorporating green features also would be nice.

Nisey Baylor, president of the Mount Rainier Business Association and owner of Nisey’s Boutique, said the group has not formally pushed for any one use at the site. But she said there is a real interest in bringing more retail to the city.

“People are always going to spend money,” she said. “It’s never going to stop. I see that. I feel that. I know that. We want businesses in Mount Rainier. We welcome and try very hard to work with businesses … to help them succeed.”

An RFP for the former liquor store has not yet been issued. But another vacant property already has a new life as a “kiss and ride” lot near City Hall. Wallace said the City purchased the lot for about $145,000 from a hopeful owner who was unable to acquire enough adjacent property for development. The new lot contributes to the bigger plan to improve public transportation, bicycle use and pedestrian traffic in the area.

While the city’s efforts are a step in the right direction, and the business association is working to attract new businesses, it has not been enough to realize the full vision of the development plan.  “The vision is beautiful,” Wallace said. “But whether or not it’s cost effective or even feasible at this point is another thing.”

The plan talks about widening sidewalks, increasing bicycle access, burying utility lines … – all things that require money and work. Wallace said some of the bigger changes will only come with significant development. With the real estate market still in recovery, big development has been hard to find.

But the city and residents seem committed to making the smaller steps toward change.

Wallace said the city recently received paperwork with a new agreement and funding extension that allots $125,000 to the Facade Improvement Program. Gateway Community Development Corporation (Gateway CDC) previously managed the program, funded by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, but the city took over last summer. Initial funding expired in December, prompting the extension request.

And based on Baylor’s experience, changing the fa├žade can make a huge difference. She recently utilized available grant funds to help offset costs for redoing her storefront. Simply updating her storefront, she said, encouraged people passing through to stop and look around. She encourages other businesses to do the same.  "When one customer stops in they see everybody,” she said. “That’s why everybody needs to do something.”

The community will join forces to liven-up one key property. The funeral home destined for redevelopment is the site of the April 28 Citizen Paint Project led by Gateway CDC and Joe's Movement Emporium.

"In the interim between it being demolished and now, since we are an arts district, the community has gotten together and we're going to paint the entire building," said Michael Gumpert, Executive Director of Gateway CDC. "First we’re going to clean it, then we’re going to white wash it, then an artist is going to design a mural and the community will paint it in."

The paint will be temporary, but organizers and community leaders hope the enthusiasm for improving the City will help push them closer to the vision in the Town Center Development Plan.

“I am hoping that with each year, something more and more has happened,” Baylor said. “I really believe in the very near future that we’ll see lots more of the architectural change. I really believe all these plans will come in the next 3 to 4 years.

“But we just gotta wait it out. And you gotta be a part of it.”

Mount Rainier, Maryland, real estate development news

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gales School Groundbreaking for Central Union Mission

Work to convert the city-owned Gales School into Central Union Mission's new home will kick off May 7th with a groundbreaking ceremony.

The gutted building at 65 Massachusetts Ave, NW, provided a raw canvas for the Mission and Cox Graae + Spack Architects to create a space for the new shelter and homeless resource center. Plans also show a small rear addition to the building.

Forrester Construction will build out the interior, which will include spaces for the Mission to continue providing shelter, meals, and programs for homeless men in 34,000 s.f. of new and renovated space.

The Mission will rent the Gales School from the City for $1 per year, a deal reached after the Mission won an RFP for the project nearly 2 years ago that was subsequently contested. Renovations will cost the Mission about $12 million. The low rent and practically new building should leave more money in the Mission's account in the long run for provision of its services.

Deborah Chambers, director of communications and outreach for the Mission, said that while the group owned its current home at 14th and R streets Northwest, the maintenance and utilities costs on the old building are exorbitant. A part they recently needed for the out-dated elevator cost $7,000, she said.

The money saved on repairs can help support the additional 50 or 60 residents the Mission is expected to house at the Gales School. It also will provide the new services needed for a daytime shelter for residents. The 110 men who call the Mission home now must leave after breakfast, she said, but the new location will have recreation rooms, computer labs and classes accessible throughout the day.

"Being able to provide the men with conditions and surroundings and beds that will help lift their self-esteem is something we're greatly looking forward to," Chambers said. "We bandaged this place, we have things holding together with staples and tape, but surroundings help somebody feel like there is a possibility and there is a future. We hope to provide them with those kinds of amenities."

Renovations should be completed next April. But the Mission must be out of its Logan Circle building in February pursuant to a contract to purchase inked several years ago but not yet executed.

Chambers said there could be a 30-day gap in service between leaving their current location and opening at the Gales School, and that some residents will go to the group's camp in Brookeville, Md., while the rest will rely on local homeless shelters and service providers.

The Mission has tried to move for several years. A previous deal for the Gales School fell through when the ACLU sued, claiming the award of the RFP by the city to the Christian-backed Mission violated the Constitution's Establishment Clause. Community protests then prevented a move to Georgia Avenue and Newton Street, leading the Mission to pursue a mixed-use development at the site instead.

With the Gales School finally secured, plans to redevelop the Mission's Logan Circle property can move forward, too.

Developer Jeffrey Schonberger (Alturas LLC) has been planning to renovate and expand properties at 1625 - 1631 14th Ave., NW since 2006, pending relocation of the homeless shelter. The new retail and residential project is scheduled to break ground in less than a year.

Washington, D.C., real estate development news

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Parks Plan for NoMa

NoMa BID released its new Public Realm Vision Plan Friday night for the growing community of residents, shops and offices. The vision includes three parks and a "modern, monumental gateway."

With 1,200 apartments already leased and 2,200 more under construction, there are plenty of residents looking for space to relax, play, and interact. The vision offers ways to create the space they need.

"To me, neighborhoods are about ... the interaction of people both with the environment and with each other outside their own private places," said NoMa BID President Robin-Eve Jasper. "So parks are just a critical part of that. And we have disaggregated what a park is around the concept of what jobs do people hire parks to do."

With that in mind, the Public Real Vision Vision Plan was borne. According to a Friday press release from NoMa BID, the vision focuses on four sites:
  1. The Plaza: A public gathering space at First and L Streets, NE
  2. The Tracks: A recreation and train-watching venue between the railroad tracks and Second Street, NE at K Street, NE
  3. A casual neighborhood park at Florida Avenue and N Street, NE
  4. The Gateway: To enliven and add color to the intersection of New York and Florida Avenues and First Street, NE, the plan envisions large, colorful obelisk-type structures greeting residents and visitors on their way to and from NoMa and Washington, D.C.
The vision plan is a preliminary look at what could be created in NoMa, but details have not been worked out. According to the press release, Councilman Tommy Wells introduced legislation that could created funding for the parks.

The press release states that property owners with land next to the proposed sites "have been approached, and many are considering ways they can incorporate the NoMa parks ideas into their own future developments." Translation: NoMa has potential for traditional neighborhood amenities, but its going to take a village.

Washington, D.C., real estate development news

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Your Next Place

By Franklin Schneider

Is it me or does this house look sort of like the White House? It does, doesn't it? Don't think I didn't lean against one of those pillars and pretend to be Obama for a second, crowd of fellow open-housers be damned. ("Honey, why did that asian Jeff Foxworthy lookalike just shout, 'I'm the king of the world!'?")

This house is a mansion's mansion - sprawling, sophisticated, and it has everything you could possibly ask for in a house. A library? Check. Six fireplaces? A sun room? A den? Wet bar? Marble foyer? Gourmet kitchen? Whirlpool bath? It's got all that and more. It has so many rooms they ran out of names for them and listed one as "Other Room 1." (I would put a foot of cat litter in there and turn it into a huge litter box, but then I'm lazy and disgusting.)

The master bedroom is HUGE and has an adjoining sitting room, so it's sort of like its own little apartment. The kicker being that you also have the entire rest of the building to yourself. There are also his and hers master bathrooms, which is huge. I maintain that an effective definition of "you've made it" is not ever having to share a bathroom with other people, i.e. being able to use a q-tip and then just drop it on the floor with no repercussions, ever. If there's more to life than that, well, I'm just not interested.

The house is in Cleveland Park, so it's steps away from shopping, restaurants metro, etc. It's also very close to Rock Creek Park and Pierce Klingle Mansion, which is one of the few places in DC that's nicer than this house. I guess it could be good having that place close by; living in a mansion like this could easily turn you into a raging egomaniac. It might be marriage-saving if you could just walk over every few weeks and look at the Klingle Mansion and be like, "Oh, wait."

3539 Williamsburg Lane NW
5 Bedrooms, 6 Baths

Washington D.C. real estate news

Friday, April 20, 2012

Restaurant, Apartments Headed for 10th and V?

Sorg Architects placed on hold its plans for a new residential building at 10th and V streets Northwest while it leases space to a restaurant and converts the historic church into apartments.

"We’re not moving forward with that portion of the project," Nikki Sorg said about the previously proposed 37-unit condo building. "But we are looking to activate the property. That's why we're getting an awesome tenant that should help to enliven the neighborhood."
First African New Church (right) before exterior restoration work stands
next to another Sorg Architects condo building, The Visio and Murano.

Sorg is negotiating a lease agreement with a restaurateur to open up shop in the Koons Roofing Building on the V Street side of the lot. While the name of the restaurant cannot be released until the deal is finalized, Sorg said it will be a "local provider."

Rumor has it a local food truck might be planting more permanent roots, but it hasn't been confirmed.

Just around the corner on 10th Street, the neighboring First African New Church reportedly soon will get a new lease on life as an apartment building, says Sorg, though the project has long been touted by Sorg as nearing development.

Sorg plans to create four rental units in the historic church ranging from 800 s.f. to 1,300 s.f. in some combination of one- and two-bedroom floor plans. Sorg would not say how many of each were planned, nor would she specify a contractor, so a quick start date seems unlikely.

Renovations will begin this spring or summer, Sorg said, and they will be completed in the fall. The apartments will incorporate traditional church features like the tall ceilings and large stained-glass windows. Sorg said it is "a simple renovation really using the incredible volumes available in the building."

The most recent permits listed online are a supplementary permit and for constructing a fence around the property. A building permit issued Sept. 9 references three apartment units, not four, in the zoning review. When asked about building permits, Sorg said she did not have specific information about them.

Suman Sorg acquired the property in 2003 for $1.3 million under the name Morning Bright LLC, one of the former names of the Baptist church. Crews now have worked on the exterior to restore the badly deteriorating church. But until recently, nearby residents complained of poor upkeep citing fallen bricks littering the alley and vermin on the site.

Bryan Martin Firvida, a past president of the U Street Neighborhood Association who pushed to make the church a historic landmark, said he was happy to see signs of improvement, especially the recent effort to secure the property and fix the roof.

Now he and other residents are ready to see the vacant lot again become a positive asset to the community. "I would love, at the end of the day, seeing life breathed back into that church, and that parcel developed ... turning that back into a tax-revenue producing lot," he said.

Brian Card, president of the U Street Neighborhood Association, said he is open to hearing plans for the residences and new restaurant. They could be great additions to the community, but he said he thinks people want to have a sense of what is planned and the opportunity to offer suggestions.

He also expressed interest in seeing a new building at the corner of 10th and V streets eventually reenter the plans. The new building would fill in an empty corner and offer new housing options for residents.

"I think we're looking for a constructive addition to the neighborhood that fits into the context of the designs," Card said, adding that residents typically are focused on size and materials.

Martin Firvida and Card both welcomed the opportunity to talk to Sorg Architects about their latest plans for the site. They said the last time formal plans were presented to them was in 2006, and they would appreciate the chance to pick up the conversation now that construction is on the horizon.

Washington, D.C., real estate development news

An earlier version of this post listed the architecture firm as Sorg and Associates.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Construction for Cathedral Commons a Step Closer

A sign today announces the parking lot of the now-closed Giant Food at 3336 Wisconsin Ave. will close April 23 to prepare for construction of Cathedral Commons. The grocery store closed last week, but the parking lot remained open. Crews also have removed the classic Giant sign on the building.

Bozzuto, Giant's financial partner for the project, posted a site plan yesterday for the $125 million mixed-use development that will span two blocks along Wisconsin Avenue.

Street-Works is developing the site that will have a new Giant Food anchoring 128,000 s.f. of new retail space. The site also will include 137 apartments, eight townhouses and 500 parking spaces.

A raze permit for the Giant as well as other parts of the 3300 block were approved Jan. 30th by the Historic Preservation Office according to documents released by the Office. Permit applications for the 3400 block also were filed.

Washington, D.C., real estate development news

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