Waterfront Tower: A Green Condo in The Little Quadrant That Could

by Katie Knorovsky


As one local neighborhood blog proclaims in its moniker, Southwest…The Little Quadrant That Could, DC’s sleepiest quarter is stirring. Evidence of this awakening can be seen in the area’s latest condo-conversion project, Waterfront Tower, which opened its sales office in September and hopes to be move-in ready by December.

We recently toured the place and, quite frankly, were more than a little impressed with the project’s mod style, convivial common areas, and attention to high-quality—and green—details.


Though not directly on the waterfront, Waterfront Tower is located at 3rd and M Streets SW (see map here) sandwiched between future waterfront development and Nationals Stadium. Next door is a soon-to-be-razed Safeway grocery store (long a point of contention among the neighborhood) and the site of the coming-in-March Waterfront Station complex, which will include a new 55,000-square-foot Safeway, CVS, Bank of America, and four or five restaurants.

Junior One-Bedroom

Living Space

Waterfront Tower’s blocky edifice was designed in the 1960s by world-renowned modernist I.M. Pei, the Chinese-American architect behind iconic structures like the glass pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris as well as the East Building of the National Gallery of Art.

Now, the architects at Torti Gallas & Partners have gutted and updated the space with an eco-conscious flair, including low-VOC paints, Bentley Prince Street’s “Green Label Plus” recycled carpets, and high-efficiency appliances, HVAC, boilers, windows, and lighting systems. Though the developer ultimately chose not to apply for LEED certification for cost reasons, Greg Rooney, VP for the project’s developer Bernstein Companies says the building is “just as green as it would have been [with the certification], but we didn’t have to spend the extra $100,000.”

The Bernstein Companies, in collaboration with Abdo Development, have taken care to follow historical preservation guidelines while breathing new life into the property and neighborhood. And the 123-unit building seems to be selling well: Roughly 42 percent of the units are sold; studios are sold out.

Kitchen in Unit

Though the condos aren’t huge, space is used efficiently, and even the studios and junior one-bedroom floor plans feel quite livable. (Extra storage space in the basement is available for purchase.) Most units include wenge cabinets, Ceaserstone counters, white oak hardwood floors, and recycled carpet in the bedrooms. Larger units include combination washer-dryers, and for everyone else, the high-tech basement laundry room has 10 sets of units that will email you when your cycle is complete.

The Glossy White Lobby

The building has a small gym, a Wi-Fi lounge, a bike storage room (with plans to also stock rental bikes), and a party room off the lobby. The glossy white lobby includes a tile mosaic by local youth over the elevator, courtesy of Arts on the Block. Outside, residents can lounge in comfy couches and chairs fronting the large grassy courtyard. Coming soon: BBQ pits and a pergola.

Price Range for Available Units

  • Junior One Bedrooms — Starting at $250,900, condo fees $277/month
  • One Bedrooms — Starting at $320,900, condo fees $354/month
  • Executive One Bedrooms: Starting at $370,900, condo fees $446 to $462/month
  • Two Bedrooms: Starting at $518,900, condo fees $570/month

Parking & Transportation

Waterfront Tower sits just a block from the Waterfront-SEU Metro station on the Green Line. There are 33 uncovered parking spaces available for purchase ($19,800 apiece) or 90 rental spaces out front ($80 per month).

Bottom Line

Say what you will about new construction woes in Southwest, but as this project hums toward completion, it’s hard not to feel optimistic about the area’s potential.

See other articles related to: new condo profiles, dclofts

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/waterfront_tower_a_green_condo_in_the_little_quadrant_that_could/1472


  1. MJK said at 4:41 pm on Tuesday November 3, 2009:

    Great to see some developers taking a responsible approach to redeveloping and incorporating elements of energy efficiency throughout.

  1. RS said at 9:53 pm on Tuesday November 3, 2009:

    As a recent SW Waterfront transplant, I am quite excited for the developments in the area.  SW is probably the most under-appreciated residential corridor in the District, and it has major potential. 4 blocks from the National Mall, 3 blocks from the actual waterfront, and generally quite safe.

    As for Waterfront Tower, the prices seem a little bit steep for small-ish units, even with the clever “green” marketing approach.  But it literally is steps from the Metro.

  1. jj said at 11:41 am on Wednesday November 4, 2009:

    really wish this would have been the exact same building that’s at 4th and M, which is rental (they were both rental at one point). this building is too close to a daytime drug dealing housing complex that sits between 3rd and south capital, sw. i lived in sw for three years and while i loved the retro look, the hazards (crime, drug dealing in the streets, safety) far outweighed the pockets of caring and kind neighbors. a shame, really, given the outstanding design and potential.

  1. PleasantPlainer said at 1:44 pm on Wednesday November 4, 2009:

    Strange, this building doesn’t appear on this list of I.M. Pei Projects: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_I.M._Pei_Projects

  1. Mark Roth said at 10:51 am on Thursday November 5, 2009:

    I just toured….it is awesome…..great job….wish i knew i was going to be in DC for the next few years…I would absolutely love to live in this IM Pei original!!!!

    And yes,it is IM Pei…..I have read the book….wiki is a guide not an absolute authority…..

  1. Shannon said at 11:16 am on Thursday November 5, 2009:

    That’s my old building! I was a renter there from 1999-2003, and wow, it couldn’t look more different. Back in my day, it was drug dealer heaven (I don’t think a single guest of mine wasn’t asked if they’d like to buy some weed), the fixtures were flimsy, and roaches crawled out of everything. On the plus side, I was paying $500 all-inclusive.

  1. Amy K said at 2:12 pm on Tuesday November 10, 2009:

    I live in SW and I am so exited with all the new revitalization and development taking place here.  I’ve seen this newly renovated building and it is awsome.  I love the white granite floor in the lobby - it has this subtle sparkling effect as you walk giving you a feeling of walking on the moon.  I was so impressed by the modern look and the bright spacy feeling you get from even the smallest units because of the gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows. 
    The buildings are IM Pei, you can check his website and find them listed on his repertoir of architectural accomplishments. 
    The building is litterally a few feet from the metro (you don’t even clross a street) and the Waterfront Station that is looking better and better as it is getting ready to open in March.  The views are also great. I was able to see the US Capitol Dome and the Nationals Baseball Stadium from the units on higer floors.  I am bying one and can’t wait to go to closing I’m so excited.
    The prices may be a bit on the high side, but they are comparable to other condos sold in the neighborhood and you are mainly paying for the location.  The proximity of 4 metro stops (one within steps, the other 3 within walking distance), walking distance to the river (2 blocks) and to the National Mall.  It is a great location that not many people know about, but I believe once the 4th street is opened and those new government offices fill up next year, one would be lucky to get these prices again.  At least I am happy I waited until the real estate market went down this much to buy.  Everything I read now says the prices are at the bottom and that they will start climing again - so I’m taking advantage of the once in a lifetime $8,000 tax credit which won’t be there after April. 
    Love The Gazibo and the private courtyard.  Love that laundry room with the WIFI - I would be able to check machine availability on the internal internet from my computer before I leave my apartment, then I get a text message when my load is ready! Technology is great.
    Of course I am biased since i am buying there!

  1. Audrea H said at 5:48 pm on Monday November 16, 2009:

    I fell in love with this building when I first stepped into the gorgeous sparkly lobby. I almost over looked this for a condo in Georgetown area. I am ecstatic about the billion dollar project to improve the waterfront and can not wait for the arena stage to open. Yes, it is a little pricey but I believe this is a great investment. Even my realtor is thinking of purchasing a unit.

    Can’t wait to move it…love it!

  1. Aimee said at 11:26 pm on Monday December 14, 2009:

    What does the condo fee include?

  1. Sharron said at 2:53 pm on Wednesday January 27, 2010:

    I too fell in love with this buliding… I once lived @ 800 4th St, so when those went el-condo I was thinking of those first(no closing cost promo), them I was told to go see “Waterfront Tower” and I was SOLD!! I will be moving in soon and look forward to walking to work(Going Green/Clean Air),istead of driving to work from Bethesda, MD.

  1. Gail said at 1:54 pm on Friday February 19, 2010:

    From what I remember the condo fees include gas (cooking), water, air conditioning & heating plus all of the amenities. They have a cool fitness center, bike storage, party room and it’s so bright and inviting.  Just having an electric bill and cable aint so bad these days.  They already sold over 50% of the units and I am hoping to secure one soon.  Good to know some of the other purchaser’s love the building!  Oh and I forgot to mention, they said, the common areas have wi-fi, so I may not need internet after all.  Working on my financing now.

  1. Dan W. said at 2:38 pm on Friday February 19, 2010:

    Well, I have to agree with all of your comments both pros and cons. Personally feeling that the pros totally outweigh the cons. I actually live in SW (Delaware Ave) and feel the neighborhood is positively changing quite a bit, rather quickly. Amy K—your so right that once those buildings go up and occupied, people will have wished they bought when they had the opportunity.  I have to make some changes quickly, so I can buy one before they are gone.  I just saw the sign that says 50% sold too and with the tax credit deadline… it’s making me step up to the plate sooner.

  1. Dave said at 4:29 pm on Friday March 26, 2010:

    I’ve recently moved into this property and I love it! It’s got a really cool, modern vibe. I’m really excited for the new Safeway to open up in April. I’ve also heard rumors about a sports bar coming to the area. I couldn’t be more pleased about buying when I did. The one thing I would change about Waterfront Tower is the concierge service. He seems like a really nice guy and all, but I never know when he is going to be around. I’m not asking for someone to take care of my dry cleaning, but it would be nice to little consistency in when he is at the front desk… Not a big deal.

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