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.


Anonymous said...

As always, I hope this happens, but it's difficult to take Sorg at its word on this project given how many past commitments the company has made and abandoned, and how disinterested the company is in communicating with local residents.

Anonymous said...

Agree with previous comment.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting juxtaposition, the modernist brick facade and the traditional gothic brick facade. One of them looks like a child did it. Quess which one?

Anonymous said...

Re the previous commenter: That would be a very talented child. I'm not a big fan of Sorg's architecture, and (cf previous comments) her community relations have been poor. But to say that a child could have designed the building is, well, childish. For starters, children put gable roofs on whatever they draw.

Just because you personally detest modern design doesn't mean that there isn't talent involved. And the faux-historicist ones usually come out either much worse or hopelessly bland.

HouseHistoryMan on Apr 24, 2012, 5:24:00 PM said...

I wrote that nomination for the U Street Neighborhood Association when the structure was threatened with demolition! Glad to see movement on the building at long last. Wghen I first toured it about 15 years ago, it actually wasn't in too bad rapidly got worse.

HouseHistoryMan on Apr 25, 2012, 11:18:00 AM said...

Here is a link to our history of the church structure. Somebody made $1.1 million in a year by simply flipping the structure...

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