Monday, January 7, 2008

New Construction Glut

Below is a photo essay on the new residential construction around U Street, almost all of which appears to be planned as 100 percent condo. These projects were most likely zoned and financed before the recent real estate downturn, and the market could be stable or rising before construction is complete. I still think that this many new units on the market will affect property values negatively. I count 11 new construction projects and I'm sure that I missed a few in the area.

Renovation at 13th and T Streets

The Moderno, 12th and U

The Lacey at 11th and Florida. It looks benign until you see . . .

Hideous

Union Row, 14th Street just north of U

A Clark Residential project going up on the northeast corner of 14th and Florida

A Bogden Builder's complex going up immediately behind the new Clark Residential project

Solea at the southwest corner of 14th and Florida, just across the street from the Bogden and Clark Residential costruction

14th and W Streets

Soon to be the Privado on Chapin Street — about one block from the three new buildings at Florida and U


The Floridian at 9th and Florida. This is the "coolest building" with a "hip scene". It's also the runner-up for ugliest new building and the winner of the most ridiculous ad campaign.

The House on the Corner at 9th and Florida

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the short term there may be some downward pressure on prices from all this new construction. But most (though not all) of the new buildings are an improvement on the vacant lots etc. that they replace, and in the medium term more condos = more people = more spending power = better stores, restaurants and services. So hopefully this will all lead to a better neighborhood.

Mr. 14th & You said...

Seriously, I hope that depiction of the Lacey was put together by a graphic designer suffering from acute cataracts. It looks like a Rubik's Cobe sorrounded by a concrete bunker.

Anonymous said...

While this may qualify as gentrification, this is not a wholly good thing folks. The ENTIRE reason to live downtown is to avoid the cloned drones of Ballston and Gaithersburg . . . this is simply a suburbanization of DC and it's not pretty.

Lover of contemporary architecture said...

Why the majority of this city including yourself absolutely fears anything that looks remotely modern and contemporary is completely beyond me.

You all should be embracing these contemporary gems that have made a point not to look like the mono-aesthetic suburban condo projects that all look the same from Ballston to Columbia

Lee said...

Anonymous: I'm not sure I follow. The entire reason downtown is to avoid people? Are downtowns supposed to be empty? How can anything that adds residential density in place of what were largely vacant lots be characterized as "suburbanization"?

And "lover," I'll be the first to say that contemporary architecture has its place in any city, but it's clearly more than possible to go too far in that direction as well. All buildings should be designed with the goal of fitting into and complementing their surroundings, not eschewing them simply because building materials and architects allow it. I think it's fair to be concerned that too many large, ostentatious modern buildings could seriously undermine the fairly modest aesthetic character of the neighborhood.

Mike Licht said...

On the bright side, these things are obviously built to last less than 20 years, so they won't blight the landscape for long.

monkeyrotica said...

what a fug nightmare! and have any of you actually BEEN to Ballston? this is exactly the kind of pretentious girders-and-glass crap that was outdated a decade ago that Ballston is filling up with. give it another 3 years, and it will look as contemporary as an Edsel grill. i cant even imagine the mentality of someone who would look at this and think, "this is the sort of architecture that defines me as a person!" i can only assume they're the same people who think $15 hamburgers are a good deal.

John W DC said...

It seems the more modern the building looks today the more dated it will look in 20 years.

I see plenty of 70s looking buildings that I imagine were quite in style back then.

I'd be fine renting in the Floridian or Lacey but would never buy there. You're paying extra for "hip" look that will end up being a hindrance.

The 13th & T project, with neighborhood appropriate architecture, will be just as appealing then as it is now.

Anonymous said...

The proposed condos are more than likely waiting until closer to completion before they actually go as condos. Condos in the area are already turning into apartment rentals and they will as long as the real estate prices continue to slump a bit. When I walk around the area, I am happy to find new projects instead of the old, boarded up buildings.

Sean said...

I can't believe people are frowning on development. Development is a good thing. We should embrace it. Some of these are much more long term than people think. The two projects on 14th and Florida won't be finished until 2009. That gives a lot of time for interest to build in the area for new residents to fill some of these projects.

Mr. 14th & You said...

"Why the majority of this city including yourself absolutely fears anything that looks remotely modern and contemporary is completely beyond me."

Whoah there, sparky. It's not "contemporary architecture" I fear, but rather unfeterred ugliness . Whatever you want to call "The Lacey", I think its rendering is abysmal, and it has no connection whatsoever to any of the buildings near it. Perhaps it will improve slightly in context once it is constructed, but right now I look at it and all I can think of is "yech".

let's just make everything look the same. fantastic. said...

I would like to see what kind of architecture YOU like.... examples!!! cheers.

Mr. 14th & You said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. 14th & You said...

I think the Hearst Tower in NYC is pretty swanky:

http://archrecord.construction.com/projects/portfolio/archives/images/0608hearsTower_lg.jpg

Anonymous said...

I like the look of the buildings - they're not that bad. They are far far from "hideous." The worst thing about these buildings is that they all probably have underground parking - U St. doesn't need more cars, it needs less.

lee la abeja said...

We need more renovation like the first picture, not just more monstrous construction. Aesthetics aside, the neighborhood needs a variety of residential areas not just to maintain diversity but for future outfitting; i.e., if these buildings vacate and dilapidate down the road they will not be re-outfitted for creative endeavors like the store fronts on U street and down 14th. It's the density, variety and small creative stores that you don't find downtown that make our neighborhood great, and I fear that uniform projects as such will blight the area in the future.

Anonymous said...

I hope you all lose all your (inherited) money in these overpriced shitty condos and have to move back to wherever it is you come from. yes you you landowning blogreading outoftowner.
UPSET THE SETUP

Mr. 14th & You said...

"The worst thing about these buildings is that they all probably have underground parking - U St. doesn't need more cars, it needs less."

I'd argue that we need less people driving into the neighborhood. But the reality is that most people who live in the neighborhood are going to own at least one car. Particularly for some of the larger developments, parking garages are an absolute necessity, considering the dearth of parking already in the neighborhood. If you want to make a bad situation worse, construct thousands of units of new housing, then don't provide any additional parking. It's bad enough already with the U St revellers and church attendees.

DCArch said...

I'm a huge fan of modern architecture of quality like Sagan-Piechota, George Suyama, etc. However, I hate buildings like many (not all) of these on U Street, which themselves only recycle piecemeal what has already been rejected en masse several decades ago. They give modern architecture a bad name and make the masses yearn for historic designs as the only way to achieve a semblance of quality. Modern can be good and alluring even to the fickle masses, but not if it's crap.

Chris L said...

I happen to like the Lacey and the Floridian. Definitely not on par in terms of quality with the funky modern stuff in Philly neighborhoods like Northern Liberties but at least its something different.

For the record, I love DC's victorian houses but we have enough of them. Whats more, when builder's try to do new rowhomes they inevitably look cheaper than their older neighbors because they don't do brickwork like they used to. So can't we embrace some new styles? Cities are at their best when they mix things up. Its all bout juxtaposition.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Chris. Good modern architecture is often rejected at first; but usually stands the test of time. I really don't see how a basically all glass building like the Floridian or a glass and concrete buidling are so cutting edge or offensive? In fact, as far as modern architecture goes, when you look at these buidlings they're almost conservative. An elegant modern builing will always be in style. Let's wait unitl they're completed before we judge.

1324 euclid said...

One more project - the strip mall just north of the Solea at 14th & U will be demo'd and replaced by another condo building. I think the builders are the same ones building across from the Solea.