Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Abdo Envisions Condos for Empty Rhode Island Avenue Lot

You could call it a vindication. Or you could simply say the market finally changed.

Either way, Jim Abdo says he’s got revamped plans for the property he owns at 1427 and 1429 Rhode Island Avenue NW, the only vacant lot on that block and one of the few left in the neighborhood. The Logan Circle-based developer had been planning on erecting a 70-something unit apartment building there, but ran into opposition from neighbors due to its size. As of this past February, he had backed off from the project entirely.

The lot as it currently appears
Now he says he’s got new plans for the lot, which backs up to the P Street Whole Foods Market. Due to a steadily improving housing market and the increased availability of financing for condo construction, Abdo has returned to the plan he says he’d initially envisioned for the property before the economy tanked: a high-end condo building containing just a few units.

“My vision has always been a boutique building with a small number of units,” explained Abdo. “And every day and month I wait, the market comes back in my favor to do what I want. We think it’s a win-win for everyone, and it’s what the neighborhood will embrace.”

Abdo didn’t provide many details about what he has in mind, as the project hasn’t gone far beyond the basic concept stage. But he says he’s imagining a 90-foot high building that contains nine or ten units, each taking up an entire floor and potentially reached by elevators that open directly into the units.

That’s a big difference from the property’s previous iteration, which was an eight-story rental building conceived of at a time when condo financing was almost nonexistent. Although the design earned approvals from the Historic Preservation Review Board, neighbors objected to its density and Abdo eventually withdrew his plans.

The lot with its prior structures, which were knocked down in 2007
“I said, ‘Let’s revisit this thing,’” he explained.

Nothing’s happening anytime soon. The developer, who bought the property in 2001, says the company probably won’t start moving on the project until 2014. At that point, in-house architects will begin putting together design ideas and he’ll reach out to HPRB and the community.

It’s not like the firm doesn’t have enough going on as it is. Besides projects in Brookland and Arlington, Abdo is also planning to develop a spot a few dozen feet to the east: 1400 14th Street, a corner lot at the intersection of 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue that currently includes a Caribou Coffee and Abdo’s own office (and next to the DCMud office). That project—a six-story building to include ground floor retail, one floor of offices, and some 30 residences—received HPRB approval a couple of months ago. Groundbreaking is set for next year.

That turns the block of Rhode Island between 14th and 15th streets a mini Abdo-ville. The developer owns another property on the block, and developed the two condo buildings framing the empty lot—the Zenith and the Willison—more than a decade ago.

Washington, D.C., real estate development news


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What is going on with the empty lot on 1300 Rhode Island Ave NE? The Brawner Company claims to own it and has plans to build a 325 unit condo. Is this true?

Guest said...

I love this guy. He has brought the city back to life.

Anonymous said...

Where the heck could they find 325 people who want to live @ 1300 RI Ave., NE?

Colin on Nov 1, 2012, 9:59:00 AM said...

So, in a city with insufficient housing, we get 10 units instead od 70. I hope the NIMBYs are proud of themselves.

Anonymous said...

sad that he was able to demolish the historic buildings on the site, preservation should have required at least the facades to remain, it would have made for an interesting part of the streetscape.

James Brawner said...

To dispel any misinformation, except for being a prospective purchaser of the property seven (7) years ago, the Brawner Company has no interest in 1300 Rhode Island Avenue NE

Anonymous said...

When you can't affor $450 a square foot to live in H street hipsterville, or get tired of sewage flooding your basement condo every time it sprinkled in Bloomingdale, you'll understand NE is where it's at.

IMGoph on Nov 11, 2012, 2:27:00 PM said...

Abdo does not equal demolition by neglect. Other than the rowhouses that were on this site (which were in HORRIBLE shape when he got them), what other locations could anyone claim fits the 'demo by neglect' bill?

Frank on May 17, 2013, 6:47:00 AM said...

sad that he was able to demolish the historic buildings on the site, preservation should have required at least the facades to remain, it would have made for an interesting part of the streetscape....

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