Thursday, June 28, 2012

Your Next Place

I'll admit, I'm kind of an "old things" snob - I only wear vintage clothes, won't drink bourbon unless it's at least 12 years old, and don't like any movie made after about 1978.  But one new thing I really love is a new condo, especially when they're like this.  I mean, look at it!  It would be like living inside an iPhone.  What snob could resist that?

This two-level Logan Circle condo in the Metropole features a wide-open floor plan, high ceilings, and totally unique finishes.  The kitchen gets a ton of light from the massive wall of windows; there's also exposed ductwork, for that frisson of rough industrial edges, but also Bosch appliances and custom cabinets for that frisson of, well, living in a million dollar condo.  Both good frissons.

Upstairs are the fine, spacious bedrooms, and there are three, yes three, very fine bathrooms.  As with the rest of the house, the utmost care has been given to every detail - the cabinets, the towel racks, the light fixtures, even the shower curtain rods are cool.  This is a condo that's guaranteed to make all your friends feel inferior and lame when they visit, which in my mind is the real point of home ownership.

And of course, the location.  Everything you could possibly want is within a block; a gym, a salon, restaurants, half a dozen bars, Whole Foods.  The condo comes with a parking space, but only a very bad person would live here and still insist on driving.  (Just kidding, when I visit my parents in Iowa, I drive their car twenty feet down the driveway to get the mail.)

1515 15th Street NW #430
2 Bedrooms, 3.5 Baths

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Long Branch Community Revitalization Plan Unveiled


Montgomery County planners unveiled an ambitious, wide-ranging community revitalization plan for the east Silver Spring community of Long Branch earlier this week, the first step in a long-term reinvention of the area that will peak with the opening of the Purple Line sometime later this decade.

In essence, the plan seeks to transition Long Branch from a car-centric and pedestrian-unfriendly neighborhood of strip malls, surface parking lots, and little to no public transportation, to a greener, mixed-use area connected by bike lanes, redesigned sidewalks, and two Purple Line Stations. One of the biggest challenges facing the area are the poorly-functioning intersections at Piney Branch Road and Flower Avenue, and Piney Branch Road and University Boulevard (see above).  This inefficiency is compounded by narrow or nonexistent sidewalks in much of the area.  The plan aims to correct this by widening and reconfiguring the above intersections, as well as installing medians, and dramatically widening sidewalks and adding bike lanes throughout Long Branch.

Of course, accessibility should improve while traffic should (theoretically) decrease when the Purple Line opens in a few years.  Long Branch will incorporate not one but two Purple Line light rail stations (see above and below), which will bring considerable changes to local transportation patterns.  The stations, at University Blvd. and Piney Branch Road, and at Arliss Street and Piney Branch Road, should reduce congestion along Piney branch and University, the main traffic arteries; combined with the proposed street improvements, this could have a serious calming effect on the neighborhood.

On the green front, planners also propose street trees throughout the area, wide-ranging park improvements, and the creation of two entirely new parks on the very west end (see below).

This blogger visits Long Branch semi-regularly - there's no better one-stop community for thrift shopping, authentic vietnamese sandwiches, and 99-cent VHS rental emporiums - and I can attest to the almost aggressively indifferent urban design (or lack thereof) in the area.  It's taken the mediocrity of the suburban strip mall aesthetic and added comically inefficient traffic management and a palpable indifference to pedestrians and cyclists.  One is often forced to make right turns off the main traffic arteries, which means braking to a crawl on a zooming four-lane road; when you add in jaywalkers and cyclists forced to ride in the gutter, it's a recipe for disaster.  This plan won't turn Long Branch into NoMa, or even downtown Silver Spring, but it will, if carried out, produce a safer, greener, more functional community.

Silver Spring, Maryland real estate development news

Monday, June 25, 2012

HiRISE WINDOWS Sheds Light on Window and Door Renovation

Sponsored Announcement 

 For many condominium and co-op owners, the first signs of trouble might be subtle – increased dust on the windowsill, noticeably more street noise, but before long comes the realization that a window or patio door needs replacing. HiRISE WINDOWS is a locally owned company whose professionals often find themselves meeting with condominium boards, groups of owners or property managers at exactly this point. 

Specializing in window and door replacement throughout the Washington area, HiRISE is renowned for solving problems that are due to age, wear or poor installation. HiRISE has carved a niche in the business with a steadfast dedication to the highest level of customer service.

 Founded by self-described former techie, Kevin Vincent, the business was born after he left a successful career in software and technology and took a job with a window replacement company. In short order, he saw the void in customer service and decided he could do better.

 From obsolete aluminum windows in high rises to historic iron-frame windows in Georgetown, HiRISE meticulously identifies the right solution, always to AAMA standards, and with an eye towards improving energy efficiency and enhancing livability. As one client said, “The recently installed windows and balcony door [from HiRISE] are just fantastic. It's so quiet and peaceful that I feel as though I have a brand new apartment!”

Bright and Bold: Shaw Apartments Nearly Complete


McCullough Construction, LLC, will soon complete construction of one of the more colorful apartment buildings in Washington D.C.  Bailey Park, located at 625 Rhode Island Avenue in Shaw, was designed by Suzane Reatig Architecture, and includes an unusual color scheme and Trespa panels, rare in American architecture.

The 32,125 s.f., 4-story apartment building will hold 16 units in place of the 4 townhouses torn down in advance of construction, and 2 will be reserved exclusively for tenants making less than 80% of the AMI (area median income), with 14 of those being rented at market rates.

More noticeable, however, is the now complete façade of background grey with three bright accent colors: carmine red, ochre and purple.

“They picked some very interesting façade colors,” said project manager Seamus McCullough. “We’ve gotten some complements. It definitely grabs your attention as you walk down Rhode Island, let’s put it that way.”

The building’s façade is made of aluminum windows, architectural concrete masonry and Trespa phenolic wall panels for screening rain.

“[The panels] are supposed to be extremely durable and hold up to weather and sun for a lifetime,” McCullough said. “There’s no caulk in the joints, so it’s an open system.”

“It has a roof deck with four individual patio areas,” McCullough said, as well as a green roof.  “From the inside, one of the nicer features is the amount of natural light,” McCullough said. “in most of the units, you don’t even need the lights on during the day.”

Ground broke on the project on Sept. 26, 2011, and completion is expected at the end of July.  “We expect to turn it over by July 15, at the very latest,” McCullough said.

Washington, D.C. real estate and development news

Your Next Place

This condo might be on the first floor, but it's nicely elevated above street level, so you can literally look down on the rest of the world, to match how you figuratively look down on the rest of the world.  What, you think we didn't notice?  You should see what we say about you on gchat.

This very large two bedroom/two baths unit has everything you could want in a house, much less a condo; a beautiful living room with exposed brick, a huge bay window and gas fireplace, a gourmet kitchen with granite counters, and island, and stainless steel appliances.  The master bedroom suite boasts a huge walk-in closet to store all your clothes or hide in if an axe murderer breaks into the place.  Recessed halogen lighting and hardwood floors throughout, and it comes with rental parking prepaid through 2015!  (Man, I really am a commitment-phobe; even the thought of staying with the same parking space for three years gave me chills.)

And it's ideally situated just off 14th street, so you're a stone's throw from some of the best bars and restaurants in the entire city.  From riding a bike full speed while vomiting to throwing an entire pizza onto the windshield of a taxi to jumping off a second story patio to impress a girl (surprise, she wasn't impressed), I don't think there's a block of 14th between O and W Streets on which I haven't engaged in some serious late-night foolishness. And if there's a better endorsement for a neighborhood, I certainly can't think of it.

1433 R Street NW #2
2 Bedrooms, 2 Baths

Washington D.C. real estate news

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Douglas announces first tenant for Wonder Bread Building

Douglas Development announced its first tenant in the historic Wonder Bread building at 641 S St NW: WorkSpaces, LLC. The company will take residence immediately following the completion of construction, which is planned for January 2013.

Douglas leased 20,817 s.f. to WorkSpaces, a “strategic furniture solutions consulting agency,” according to a press release, which will be the property’s first tenant since 1988, occupying the entire third floor.

Douglas recently began construction on the Wonder Bread building, which it purchased in 1997. Douglas also applied for landmark status this past year with support from the D.C. Preservation League, which supported its plans.

The Wonder Bread building sits next door to Progression Place, also under construction. Progression Place will have 100,000 s.f. office space and 205 apartments above the Metro entrance.

Washington, DC real estate and development news

Your Next Place

I have to say, these huge loft-style units might be my favorite type of place, and not just because you could potentially lie in wait up on the top elevated level and dump a trashcan full of water down onto your significant other as soon as they walked in the door, after you hacked their email and found the "missed connection" they posted on Craigslist.  Though you have to admit that would be extremely satisfying, potentially. (As an alternative, you could just act normal but then email them, pretending to be the missed connection.  Which is what I did.)

With a 20-plus foot peaked ceiling, this penthouse loft has an epic feel to it that you could never get in a place with boring old "rooms."  As soon as you enter through the private entrance, you can tell you're in a place in which the designers paid great attention to every last detail.  The kitchen, tucked discreetly under the loft, features high-end Bosch appliances, fantastic lighting, and there are really cool cutout panels of exposed brick throughout the place.  Upstairs, there's a low wall of translucent glass partitioning off the loft, and both baths feature five-star hotel style finishes.  (Check out the showers.)

It's also close to everything and right next to Chinatown, where I'm convinced you can buy literally anything, from an Ann Taylor Loft flower-print bucket hat to one of those canes that unscrews into a sword.  (Not even kidding - those two items are sold within a block of each other.  And yes, I bought a sword cane.)

1002 M Street NW #4
2 Bedrooms, 2 Baths

Washington D.C. real estate news

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Falkland Apartments Plan Up for Review, Again

Today, Home Properties of New York, owner of the Falkand Apartments, finds itself once again before the Montgomery County Planning Department concerning the site plan for a multi-building, mixed-use development at the northeast quadrant of the intersection of 16th Street and East-West Highway near the Silver Spring CBD. The 9.7-acre site, split into three parcels, is within walking distance of the Silver Spring Metro and the MARC station.

In 1985, the area was denied eligibility for the designation in the Master Plan for Historic Preservation, but in 2007 all three parcels were found eligible and the Board “directed the Planning staff to initiate an amendment to that Master Plan,” according to the MCPD report on today’s hearing to approve the site plan. In 2008, the south and west parcels were added to the plan, but the north parcel was added to the Locational Atlas, which was created in 1976 and identifies potential historic sites.

That particular restriction called for the removal of the north parcel from the Atlas upon approval of the site plan.

"Faced with the challenge of weighing the benefits of historic preservation with those related to other planning objectives, the Board found that greater public benefit would be achieved through the redevelopment of the north parcel than by the parcel's designation in the Master Plan," according to the Staff report.

Being part of the Master Plan comes with eligibility for financial incentives for qualified rehabilitation and maintenance projects as well as certain protections.

The designation led Home Properties to revise their development plan and follow a few provisions, including 4.72 percent of the dwelling units to be subject to the County’s Workforce housing law for 20 years and the same amount provided for off-site Workforce housing.  Home Properties must beautify the stream on the South parcel, and all buildings must be rated LEED-Silver.

The proposed plan is for a 1.2 million s.f., mixed-use development that includes 70,000 s.f. of retail and 1,250 townhouse units with 12.5 percent MPDUs and 4.73 percent Workforce Housing units.

The project consists of four buildings, oriented to a perimeter public street or a proposed private internal street. The buildings on the East-West Highway include ground-floor retail.

The proposed development provides 65,091 s.f. of public use space, 20 percent of the lot area. This includes a public plaza, garden and pedestrian area.

Staff recommends approval of the proposed plan today.

Maryland real estate and development news

Lumber Shed Construction at the Yards Begins this Week

Construction begins this week on the Lumber Shed, an adaptive reuse component that will become the retail centerpiece of the Yards, a Forest City project. The Shed is set to be completed in the third quarter of 2013, according to a press release.

The Yards, which is one of the largest projects in Southeast D.C., has been named the best new public space by City Paper. Seven restaurants and a Harris Teeter were announced this past year in the boilermaker shops, and recently, the Alatmarea Restaurant Group of New York City announced a new Osteria Morini restaurant to open in The Yards in summer 2013.

The area was formerly the Navy Yard Annex then the Naval Gun Factory. Forest City Washington received the chance to redevelop the 42-acre riverfront property site in 2004, and construction began on several parcels within the yards in 2007.

When finished, the Yards will be a 5.5 million s.f. development, completed during three phases during the next 10 to 20 years.

The Lumber Shed - formerly owning up to its name - is located on the edge of the Yards park overlooking the Anacostia River.  The Shed will be a 30,000 s.f., two-level, retail, glass pavilion, which will temporarily house Forest City’s offices on the second floor and include five restaurants.

The inclusion of Osteria Morini and Forest City’s offices means the building is 60 percent leased.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wesley Seminary Residence Hall to Break Ground Next Month


The first new housing in over fifty years for the Wesley Theological Seminary is set to break ground next month, after an almost six-year planning and approval process.

"We just went in for permits a couple weeks ago," said Paul Taylor of general contractor Vantage Construction.  "We hope to break ground in July, if everything goes through as planned.  Construction should take about a year, so they'll be finished by next summer, and ready for the fall semester.  Right now it looks like the final building will encompass 74 beds in about 56 units."

Back in 2006, the Zoning Commission approved an ambitious Wesley Seminary Campus Plan that would've added over seventy thousand square feet of residential, academic, and chapel space to the campus.  But the economic downturn forced a reevaulation of this plan, and in the end, this residence was the only new planned structure that survived the process.

The three-story thirty thousand square foot residence hall, designed by Falls Church-based MGMA, will feature a facade of brick veneer and contrasting concrete panels, to match the rest of the campus, and will house plant facilities for the entire campus on the lower levels.  The design has evolved over the past year, after consultations with citizens groups, to produce a more visually dynamic, varied structure.  Designers pulled out stairwells, added elements to the roof, stepped back precast elements, and "reduced the institutional feel" by strategically adding window, to create a "more interesting and more residential" building.

Wesley Seminary was founded in 1882 in Westminster, MD, and has been at its present Spring Valley location since 1958; according to the latest Campus Plan, the campus, though "outwardly tranquil and relaxed is, in reality, a place of great energy and excitement."

Washington, D.C. real estate development news


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