Monday, May 16, 2011

Yet another huge condo building coming to 14th Street

Back in March, we wrote a post that took a look at all of the development projects currently ongoing around the 14th and U Street corridors and noted that it felt like a return to the middle part of the last decade, when development was going like gangbusters throughout the neighborhood.

Since that time, real estate development tycoons PN Hoffman announced plans to convert the Verizon building at 14th and R into a residential building with ground level retail. And today, courtesy of the City Paper's Lydia DePillis, we learn of yet another project for 14th Street: the eastern side of 14th near the intersection of Wallach Place (between T and U), which is currently the T Street post office (oh, you didn't know the Post Office was closing?), a furniture store and a Yum's carryout, is set to become a seven story condo building replete with ground level retail.


Image courtesy ofthe City Paper

The project, which is being developed by Level2 Development (of View 14 fame) and is designed by Eric Colbert and Associates, will house 126 residential units in addition to the aformentioned retail.

As you can see from the rendering above, it looks pretty much like...well, it looks pretty much like all of the cookie-cutter condo boxes that have been springing up around town recently. I sometimes wonder if we'll look back at this time in the city's development 30-40 years from now and view these buildings the way the brutalist SW federal center is viewed today: products of their time that have not aged particularly well.

No matter--progress is progress, right? A potentially greater issue than mundane architecture was raised on the Twitters today: namely, is DC starting to run out of Yums? With the loss of this location, and the anticipated loss of the one between Rhode Island and P street when that section of the block gets redeveloped, one does have to wonder: have we reached Peak Yums, and are venturing along the beginnings of a downhill slide from which we may never recover? Heaven help us.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

This building is hideous and unoriginal. Do they think we LIKE this sort of crap being built? What the hell does it CONTRIBUTE?

Anonymous said...

That's because Eric Colbert is one boring unimaginative architect. He has always been and has only gotten more mediocre over the years. I do not understand why DC's developers can't find someone with true style and creativity to design buildings. DC is becoming more and more ugly by the day.

Anonymous said...

If it sells, then someone likes it.

Anonymous said...

I don't have anything against the design itself, and I'm generally in favor of new projects that remove ugly old buildings (like the post office), but this one completely clashes with the local architecture. The all glass look really doesn't work with the surrounding brick buildings. Any way to stop this?

Jim said...
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Jim said...

This one from Colbert looks excellent. It will be a great addition to the 14th St Corridor. We're really lucky to be living in a time when so many well designed are being built right here in DC.

Alex M said...

@Jim: Nice try, Level2 marketing.

Anonymous said...

The smaller buidlings make the 14th Street corridor special. These new condos are making the neighborhood look more like Columbia Heights (and that is *not* a good thing).

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I hope @Jim is either paid to drink the Kool Aid, or he's kidding. Because 90% of the new buildings along the 14th street corridor are downright, god awful ugly. The Solea looks like an mobile, construction out house, made of the cheapest materials possible. No thought put into the details of materials and design whatsoever. Its really sad that DC hasn't thought about what all of this will actually look like. Instead, it seems they simply want to put up the crappiest buildings and sell as fast as possible. One need only look at NYC, Philly, and even Pittsburgh for better style, design and construction these days.

Anonymous said...

"If it sells, then someone likes it."

Not necessarily. It simply means that someone wanted to live in the area and that was the only available choice.

Craig said...

Progress is not progess with another uninspired, too tall building.

SG said...

More density is needed in this city to keep rents down. Demand isn't going away and we don't have nearly enough supply due to our city's NIMBYism and overly regulated height, even along commercial corridors. We need to produce 3,000 + apartment units per year if we don't want to be paying 5% more per year in rent.

Mr. 14th & You said...

I don't think anyone is arguing that we shouldn't be building more housing units. My question is why the buildings that are getting built consistently look so pedestrian?

Anonymous said...

I don't think this one looks so bad. It kind of reminds me of the one that houses Bang & Olufson (sp?) further south and I am a fan of the way that looks.

I am not sure how the buildings being built today will age, but I don't think that means we need to be so limited as to keep all buildings being designed in the style of whatever else is around there. I do like contrast between the old and new and think the neighborhood north of U and east of 14th is a great example of that. All in all, I agree that this building is nothing special, but I disagree that it is something as offensive as everyone seems to be suggesting

Renee said...

I just love how the rendering includes the derelict building to the left. It really captures the essence of this block.

r said...

Logan Circle is becoming Little Bethesda. With each new building it is looking more like a sterile suburban “city center” - large box buildings and overpriced retail. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to see it gentrify, the city needs the tax revenue, but I do wish there was more diversity. The new buildings, retail and restaurants are aimed at upper middle class yuppies. The neighborhood is becoming more sterile with each new condo.

Field of Dreams said...

@r
Yep, you are absolutely right, the new buildings, retail and restaurants are aimed at upper middle class yuppies. And that is what has changed this neighborhood from the rundown slum that it was 10-15 years ago to a vibrant urban corridor. And if it isn't edgy or diverse or creative enough for you, maybe you should go hang out in Bloomingdale or H Street or Anacostia or somehwere else.

But I for one am thrilled to see that ugly-ass post office and the crappy carpet store demolished for a new building that will bring more upper middle class yuppies to the neighborhood.

That is change that I can believe in.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone is arguing that change should NOT happen. Everyone wants the change and wants the construction. What we need is definitely more housing and more retail/ restaurants (but NOT the chains). Too much mediocrity reigns in the neighborhood right now. With the except of posto, marvin, local 16, st ex, and *maybe* estadio on a good night, the rest of it is crap. We need the gentrification but we desperately need some style and character. Compared to NYC, DC is mickey mouse. We need developers to think outside of the box and to bring in creative, thoughtful designs and businesses. We need something other than cookie cutter nastiness of N. VA, Bethesda and the like.
The bldgs that we're seeing constructed along 14th (@ Florida, @Chapin, @Belmont), ...they're just plain UGLY. Those architects need to go back to school and learn some real design. They're also constructed so cheaply that I doubt they'll be here 50 yrs from now.

r said...

@fieldofdreams - I have enjoyed watching the city change over the 17 years that I have lived in either Dupont or Logan. I am not a hipster that hangs on H St or NIMBY who opposes gentrification and liquor licenses. In addition to being fond of gelato, tapas, gourmet pizza and running accessories, I also like a meal and some retail options that offer a little more than a well off suburb.

Mr. 14th & You said...

I have to second anon 2:49's comment re: Bethesda and Arlington. Really, the buildings going up along 14th Street are completely indistinguishable from anything going up on central Bethesda or the Orange Line corridor.

I welcome redevelopment and construction, and the introduction of new residents and businesses into the neighborhood. That's what a lot of this blog is about, anyway. But what I am increasingly finding myself detesting is the homogenity and mediocrity pervasive in so many of the new developments, along 14th Street and elsewhere. The building pictured here is a box. It has some windows. It has nary a distinguishing characteristic about it. For a neighborhood that supposedly prides itself on being creative, interesting and dynamic, I would like to think that we could do better than this.

Anonymous said...

Your post is incorrect, this is to be an apartment building, not a condo building. All the units will be efficiency or 1-bedrooms.

Anonymous said...

There are many to blame for the mediocre architecture but one not yet mentioned in these comments is the DC historic preservation office. Developers know what will get approved by the HPRB and few are willing to go to the expense of bringing anything different, creative or cutting edge to get approved. If they do they will have to waste time and money while their designs are re-designed by the HPRB staff. So the safe bet is to go with the safe architects with the safe designs that have already been approved time and time again.

Anonymous said...

Instead of the small local developers who did such great work with the Universal Gear building, for example, we're now getting the suburban mega corps building suburban-type clone mid-rises with CVS's on the 1st floor. Plus the neighborhood is disrupted for 2 years and we end up with an underground garage with hundreds of new cars.

5 story frame or block buildings with no underground garage go up fast and cheap. The new development at Brentwood metro by Home Depot is a perfect example. The extra couple floors in these clone suburban buildings isn't worth the trade-off.

Next on the block will be the block from St.Ex to Standard (the beer garden). What a wailing we'll hear as those are all torn down (facades preserved) for more clones.

condo in Philippines said...
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Anonymous said...

Yeah. ERic Colbert's buildings are the most UNimaginative designs. I guess because, as Annon points out, they're co-designed by Colbert and HPRB's Collcott. Why doesn't Colbert just hire Collcott to work at his firm and make room for a new, unhackneyed staffer at HPRB?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone contacted the developer to see how this design was selected? I'm going to e-mail them and see what response I get.