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Church Conversion: Capitol Hill Church Slated to Become Residences

  • January 6, 2014

by UrbanTurf Staff

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819 D Street NE

Plans are in the works to convert a Capitol Hill church into a 26-unit residential project.

UrbanTurf has learned that a developer would like to turn the Way of the Cross Church of Christ at 819 D Street NE into a residential project. Plans are in the very early stages, and the project would need to go before the Board of Zoning and Adjustment to receive a variance for that number of units, a source familiar with the deal told UrbanTurf.

Project architect Bonstra|Haresign told UrbanTurf that it will hold off on comment until it works through the design and “achieves some milestones with HPO and BZA.”

The church would be just the latest religious institution in the city to go residential. Last May, we reported that the owner of 1538 New Jersey Avenue NW would turn the church building at the address into a 7-unit apartment project. Also, the owners of Meridian Hill Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant are turning the site into a 70-unit condo building, consisting largely of one-bedrooms.

The church project is not the only conversion on this block of D Street NE. The Edmonds School, a former schoolhouse at 901 D Street NE, is in the final stages of being turned into a 30-unit condo/townhouse development.

See other articles related to: dclofts, churches

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/capitol_hill_church_could_be_converted_to_residences/7958

12 Comments

  1. It figures said at 3:29 pm on Monday January 6, 2014:

    It makes sense in some ways. Over the last 10 years it seems like people are more devoted to real estate than to God.

    How much for the bedroom where the altar currently stands? Is there a premium to have in the church? Or to eat lunch in the space where thousands of funerals were held?

  1. Kes said at 3:39 pm on Monday January 6, 2014:

    It’s either find a use for these buildings or tear them down. As large congregations migrate out of the District or fail to attract new members, it makes no sense for them to waste time, money, and effort on keeping up a property that no longer fits them. I’m glad developers are willing to do the work to preserve the facades while remaking the buildings to better serve the needs of the neighborhood.

  1. Zesty said at 6:26 pm on Monday January 6, 2014:

    @Kes,

    Using your logic, we should turn several district Libraries, Parks, and etc into Apartments/housing/etc. because they are under-utilized. Obviously, you’re not equally applying your recommendation; which implies at latent bias.

  1. a said at 6:47 pm on Monday January 6, 2014:

    @Zesty

    That’s absurd - libraries and parks in DC are hardly underutilized.  Some of the best ones see a range of users from real estate purchaser to those with no other means from internet access. More importantly, they are public goods, not private entities like religious institutions

  1. Colin said at 7:54 pm on Monday January 6, 2014:

    “Also, the owners of Meridian Hill Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant are turning the site into a 70-unit condo building, consisting largely of one-bedrooms.”

    When?

  1. name said at 10:32 am on Tuesday January 7, 2014:

    Some churches are doing very well, some have lost their way and their flock has disappeared.

    Reap what you sow.

    And just so we’re not too concerned with ‘godliness’, I’m sure the congregation wasn’t offering the building for free to a new parish tenant. They’re going to walk away with millions of tax free dollars.

    These folks were ALL about the benjamins.

  1. Matthew 19:24 said at 12:03 pm on Tuesday January 7, 2014:

    It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

  1. Kes said at 12:31 pm on Tuesday January 7, 2014:

    Am I biased against tax-free religious organizations sitting on huge, valuable, largely empty properties? Why yes, I am. Fortunately for those groups, they own their property and can dispose of it as they wish, without any input or interference from me.

    In these cases, the owners chose to sell a property they didn’t need any more to people who would preserve the architecture while creating valuable real estate out of untaxable churches. What would you suggest, that all congregations looking to move out of a too-big or too-expensive buildings hold out until another religious community comes along looking to use it? Ridiculous.

    Also, your assumption that DC parks and libraries are underutilized is certainly wrong, but DC has in the past, and is currently, selling off unused properties like old school buildings to developers, and I find nothing wrong with that either.

  1. a said at 2:42 pm on Tuesday January 7, 2014:

    you should take some issue with selling the schools to developers—some of the obsolete historic buildings have been undervalued and the ROI for the city pathetic.  It’s also important to separate smaller adaptable buidlings from larger functional school buidings being held either for future growth or for charter expansion.

  1. Zesty said at 6:17 pm on Tuesday January 7, 2014:

    @Kes,
    I am bemoaning the loss of various historical structures/buildings within DC proper….but I know it’s unrealistic to expect DC not to change, as it is ever growing DC and a church and developers can make millions.

    About vacant schools/land/etc., I think it’s ridiculous that DC GOV is selling these properties…if someone wants to develop on a school, they should sign a long term lease, e.g. 30 years. This ensures that DC GOV benefits from future land appreciation, can reconvert the building back to a school if needed and also increase tax base….land sales only increase tax base

  1. Kes said at 11:13 am on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    I’m highly skeptical that any developer would want to embark on an apartment-conversion project on an old school only to be uncertain if they are going to still retain rights to the property 30 years down the line. It also eliminates the possibility of condo-conversions altogether.

    Also, since the city is often incompetent or incapable of managing their empty buildings responsibly (unsecured doors lead to constant squatting and the very real possibility of fires), I’m all for flipping those buildings to developers OR charters as soon as possible. Anything but let them sit empty and unused for a decade against a promise of expanded education options “someday”.

  1. Zesty said at 11:45 am on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    @Kes,
    I agree this won’t work in every situation. But look at the Trump Hotel that is going to be built at the Old Post Office. Trump signed a 60 year lease for the property. Obviously, it’s prime downtown real estate but I think DC Gov should at least explore this option….but I agree that the level of mismanagement is troublesome.

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