Douglas Proposes 295 Units Near Rhode Island Avenue Metro

by Lark Turner


Douglas Development is planning two six-story residential buildings near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro with a combined 295 units, according to a presentation made to ANC 5B this week.

The project at 805-809 Channing Place NE (map) includes a modern build-out of an existing industrial building as well as new construction. The existing building will become a six-story, 156-unit residence with six parking spaces; the new building will have 139 units and 60 parking spots. Neither project includes retail. The two projects would be connected by a pedestrian walkway topped by a pool and have large shared amenity spaces, including what’s labeled in the plans as a yoga studio, a juice bar and a fitness area. Eric Colbert & Associates, GTM Architects and ParkerRodriguez worked on various aspects of the project design.

Incoming ANC commissioner Joe Barrios indicated the project is a matter-of-right development that is likely to move forward without further approvals, and suggested it may be completed by early 2016.

“I am thrilled that blighted industrial land is being converted to much better use within short walking distance of the Rhode Island Avenue metro stop,” Barrios said. “This in turn will help fuel the revitalization of the Rhode Island Avenue corridor that many people in our community have been working on.”

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/douglas_proposes_295_units_in_two_buildings_near_rhode_island_metro/9296


  1. DC225 said at 11:00 am on Friday December 5, 2014:

    156 units with 6 parking spaces? Yikes.

  1. Eponymous said at 12:40 pm on Friday December 5, 2014:

    I’m sure that the parking spaces will be shared among all of the units in the complex, meaning that it’s 66 spaces for 295 units. The place is across the street from the Metro, less than a block from bus lines, and a stone’s throw from the MBT (a new cycle track is slated to go down RI Ave soon as well). We really, really need to get over the idea that everyone needs two cars. Especially in DC.

  1. DC225 said at 1:00 pm on Friday December 5, 2014:

    I’m not arguing that every unit needs 2 spaces. I’m saying that right now they are proposing a parking spot for 22% of units which I think is unrealistically low, especially for that area which is spread out and not very dense. My building in SW (an area with more similarities to RI Ave than, say, Dupont) is a block from the metro, a block from a bikeshare, and has 2 bus stops literally at our front door, and there has always been a waitlist for parking. And we have spots for about 60% of our units. I agree that easy access to public transport cuts demand for parking, but by how much is the big question.

  1. neonative said at 2:52 pm on Friday December 5, 2014:

    I have always been fascinated by the old printing company building.  I always felt like it could be converted to industrial lofts.  Glad to see something is happening there, but I hope Douglas preserves as much of the existing building as possible.

    I wonder if they will improve the streets and alleys in that area as part of the development.  Those streets could use better lighting and pedestrian measures.

  1. Mary said at 4:03 pm on Friday December 5, 2014:

    I also live in SW and agree with DC225. I think this new trend towards buildings with very few spaces tends to assume that all residents will always be 24 year olds with jobs and friends all right in the city and disinclined to take on the expense of a car. SW is an interesting case because it has a really long standing set of residents and isn’t too high turnover (we’ll see if that changes when the Wharf and its micro-units arrive). In my observation, people do tend to drive more when their household expands and they’re buying groceries and things for more than one person, when they have kids, when friends move to the suburbs, when they’re no longer in the metro-accessible job they had when they bought their place and now have to drive…And accomodating a place to put a car does allow people to stay in a building and community they like even when other lifestyle factors change. And construction that helps build permanent rather than transient neighborhoods that accomodate a mix of families and ages is a really useful thing.

  1. TP said at 4:53 pm on Friday December 5, 2014:

    As far as I can tell, those are EPA-designated brownfields, meaning “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”


    Does anyone know the problem with these sites? And do the developers have any plan for abatement?

  1. E said at 5:22 pm on Friday December 5, 2014:

    “We really, really need to get over the idea that everyone needs two cars. Especially in DC.”

    1. everyone doesn’t need, or have two cars.  Fine.
    2. everyone also doesn’t have to subscribe to the same life footprint either.  Go figure some of those people actually reside in the District too. 

    Such an exhausting argument that everyone wants everyone else to live exactly the same way they do.

  1. Colin said at 7:20 pm on Friday December 5, 2014:

    This debating over how many parking spaces is appropriate is funny to me. Frankly, I have no idea how many spaces should come with each unit, so why not let the market decide rather than central planners? If people want dedicated parking then developers will include it, just like they do for any other amenity or feature. Of course, this would also work a lot better if the city started charging a lot more for offstreet parking. Parking is a limited resource and should be priced accordingly!

  1. DC225 said at 3:44 pm on Sunday December 7, 2014:

    Colin, I think that if we leave the issue of parking totally up to developers, fewer spots will be built in the name of cost savings that probably will only pad the developers’ bottom line and will only serve to further strain on-street parking resources. Mary, I agree with you completely. It is disappointing that most of our housing continues to be targeted at a transient population rather than at establishing long-term communities.

  1. JoDa said at 2:34 pm on Monday December 8, 2014:

    If more than 66 parking spots are demanded, then they can just rent some of the 500+, mostly unused, spots across the street at Rhode Island Row.  This is LITERALLY across the street from a Metro station, dozens of bus stops, a grocery store, and other retailers and restaurants.  Much like DC USA, RIR was instructive that there isn’t much demand for parking in the area (except by churchgoers, who aren’t going to pay for it - no way, no how - and don’t care if the spot they leave their car is even legal), in that proximity to the Metro.  Plus, it’s a matter-of-right development, as is, so no one gets any say about requiring more parking.

  1. JoDa said at 2:38 pm on Monday December 8, 2014:

    Also of note - this area currently has no on-street parking and, therefore, is not zoned.  Therefore, residents of this building will not qualify for zone permits (you have to live on a zoned block to get a permit, and your street has to have on-street, non-metered parking to be zoned).  Beyond the availability of vast amounts of for-rent parking in immediate proximity, this fact will mean zero additional cars parked on the streets.

  1. JoDa said at 4:50 pm on Monday December 8, 2014:

    Okay, finally, if you’d prefer a home with off-street parking, and the parking in this building has already sold out, then maybe you could consider one of the hundreds of row homes in the Brookland/Brentwood/Edgewood neighborhoods that have off-street parking.  Or one of the two other new condo developments that will have off-street parking for every unit.  Or one of the dozens of other existing condo developments in the community that have off-street parking.

    No one is forcing anyone to live in this building, before or after the parking sells out (if it does), therefore, no one is being “forced” to live in any specific way with respect to a car.  Building parking is expensive and, repeatedly, over and over again, in neighborhood after neighborhood throughout the city, it has been demonstrated that there is less demand for parking than the current zoning regulations require, or anonymous “concerned citizens” who do not and never will live in these buildings want to force private companies to build and other people to buy, rent, or subsidize for sitting empty through the sale or rent price of their unit.  You think RIR is taking a loss because their parking sits unused?  HA!  But the city is certainly spending a fortune maintaining on-street parking that we practically give away ($35/year for a permit is a JOKE) and people act like they own exclusively simply because they live beyond that particular curb. 

    It’s incredibly unclear to me why you insist on foisting *your* choice to own a car on others.  We have so many instructive examples - DC USA and the Kenyon Square condos across the street from it (more than half of its parking is rented to non-residents/commuters); RIR; Hamilton House (management quoted as having rented only ~70% of spaces, with only 1 space per 4 units or 25%); and my own humble little condo building in the neighborhood, six blocks from the Metro, where only 33% of the units have cars (but every unit has an off-street spot) - that it amazes me these arguments keep going on.

  1. DC225 said at 12:38 am on Tuesday December 9, 2014:

    JoDa, my point is that in less dense, less walkable areas like NE, there will continue to be demand for parking that will likely differ from demand in places like Columbia Heights or Dupont Circle, and 22% seems low for that area. I have a car-owning friend at RIR; she wouldn’t give up her car for anything. The nearby retail is all hard to walk to (and mostly subpar), and the Giant is a very long walk through an inhospitable parking lot, not to mention as a female she feels unsafe walking alone at night in this area.

    You talk a lot about the cost of building parking - have you seen any evidence that the cost savings from developers not building parking is being passed down to owners/renters?

  1. Eponymous said at 1:04 pm on Tuesday December 9, 2014:

    You hit the nail on the head, JoDa. If parking is really important to people, there are plenty of other options. For people who do not own a car and do not want to own a car, this building’s lack of underground parking may help decrease overhead and make the units more affordable than they otherwise would be.

    Also, others keep saying that this is a low-density area. Yes, there are a lot of strip malls near the Rhode Island Ave Metro now. But there are thousands of units either under construction or in the planning phase here and near the Brookland Metro. If half of the planned units are built this will be an active, walkable neighborhood in 7-10 years with all necessary amenities within walking distance and downtown 10-20 minutes away via public transit/bicycle.

    I live very close to this development, and unless you’re disabled there’s absolutely no need to own a car in this area. And it’s not about forcing lifestyle choices on others - it’s about dealing with reality in populated areas: you can simply fit a lot more walking/cycling commuters than cars. Face it, there’s simply no comparison between quality of life in car-dependent places like Atlanta and Houston versus in iconic cities like Paris, London, and New York. DC proper is, thankfully, far past the point where car-dependence is a viable option.

  1. JoDa said at 9:09 pm on Tuesday December 9, 2014:

    One person who wants to own a car does not make a rule, and, being a (female) resident of the area, I get around just fine on foot/public transit (I also don’t make a rule, but I did provide numerous examples of other developments, including in the neighborhood, where built parking is unused).  My point was that there are no lack of options in the *immediate* area for people who want to own a car, including living in this building and renting a parking spot *literally* across the street if the parking sells out but a specific buyer still wants to buy there or buying in a building that has off-street parking OR qualifies for an RPP, of which there are many that already exist and more than several more currently under development in the *immediate* vicinity.

    It’s hard to say whether “cost savings from not building parking are passed on to residents,” because the market determines the prices of homes/condos, and parking is a small part of that pricing.  What is clear is that building parking is expensive (about $10K for an at-grade spot and up to $35K for an underground spot), and it’s simply unbelievable that a developer would just eat that cost if they can’t sell/rent the parking to residents.  So, what is the “third answer?”  Well, it’s either government subsidy (DC USA’s unused parking is subsidized by the city to the tune of about $2M/year) or renting to commuters (as the Kenyon Square developer did out of the gate, striking a deal for workers at Washington Hospital Center to park there and be bused to work; or as RIR has done by offering cheap daily and monthly parking to those driving and using the Metro from closer-in).  Both of these cost each and every one of us, either in tax dollars spent or increased commuter traffic (and, thus, increased pollution, congestion, and wear-and-tear on the roads) around our homes.

    22% seems like the right number for me in an area with good transit and access to services.  The 1958 zoning code apparently agrees, since this development is by-right as planned.

  1. JoDa said at 9:24 pm on Tuesday December 9, 2014:

    Also, Epon (I feel like we might know each other…proximity and all smile ), this area is already more walkable for certain purposes than other places I’ve lived in the city.  Many moons ago, I lived on the Hill (Senate side), and it was 16 blocks for me to go to the grocery store.  There wasn’t a good public transit option (3-4 blocks from the stop to the store and/or my house to transit stop was the best I could do…and since those routes were largely buses, with low frequency on weekends when I’d like to go grocery shopping, they were even less useful), so I felt a car was necessary when living in that “denser, more vibrant” neighborhood.  It was shortly after moving up here that I sold my car.  I could get to the grocery store on foot in fewer blocks than just to the bus that would take me there, evetually!  The Metro was closer to my house!  The buses ran more frequently, and took me useful places!  Sure, my (longer) walk to the Metro to go to work was more scenic on the Hill, but it was still longer and there were no services except for expensive corner stores along it.

    There’s certainly room for improvement/development around these parts, but we definitely have easily-accessible basics and the development that will make it a truly awesome neighborhood is *well* underway.

Comments are closed.

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