DC Micro-Unit Project Proposes Going Carless

by Shilpi Paul

DC Micro-Unit Project Proposes Going Carless: Figure 1
The Church Street project, from the back. Courtesy of Peter Fillat.

One of the most interesting things about a new apartment project in Logan Circle may be its stance on cars.

Developer Brook Rose is proposing to build a rental complex with 29 micro-unit studios and six one-bedroom apartments on the 1400 block of Church Street. The design for the eight-story development at 1456-1460 Church Street NW (map) would incorporate the three existing row houses at those addresses, and a modern, glassy addition housing the studios will go up on the back.

Architect Peter Fillat and members of the development team recently presented to the ANC 2F Community Development Committee (CDC) in advance of a hearing with the Board of Zoning Adjustment.

DC Micro-Unit Project Proposes Going Carless: Figure 2
Facing Church Street NW.

Fillat described the building as “light and airy” and is meeting with an IKEA design consultant to figure out how to make the micro-units as appealing as possible. “We’re not trying to trap people in mouse holes,” assured Fillat.

In addition to explaining the concept, the team was seeking approval for several zoning variances, the most interesting of which deals with parking. Brook Rose is requesting that the project be allowed to have no parking spaces, but that doesn’t mean that its addition to the neighborhood will add to the over-burdened parking situation on Church Street. Tenants will be prohibited from acquiring a residential parking permit (RPP), and the developers are hoping to appeal to renters who don’t own a car. The RPP prohibition will be written into the lease, and the developers will check with the DMV periodically to make sure none of their tenants have a permit.

ANC 2F’s CDC voted to support the project. If all approvals are acquired, delivery is estimated for March 2014.

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See other articles related to: parking, micro units, logan circle, dclofts, church street, brook rose, anc 2f

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/micro-units_coming_to_church_street_nw/7106


  1. Alexa said at 8:16 pm on Thursday May 23, 2013:
    Will the developers be doing any consultations with potential residents or perhaps those who have lived in small spaces like this? What better way to make a micro unit appealing than to get insight from a series of people who have lived in similar dwellings?
  1. KL said at 8:22 pm on Thursday May 23, 2013:
    I like Alexa's idea of consulting with folks that already live in very small homes to get a sense of how the new apartments should be configured. I also think that the project will have little problem finding renters who use a bicycle over a car to get around. I live in Logan and know just a few people that have cars.
  1. mizark said at 8:28 pm on Thursday May 23, 2013:
    I've seen the discussion of 'parking permit prohibition' recently and I wonder if it truly is enforceable? I guess if it is written into the lease and the lessee agrees to it, then it is ok, but it strikes me as something that you can't actually prohibit someone to do since it isn't really connected to leasing the apartment space. My landlord could write into my lease that I can't wear green, but what does that have to do with my apartment?
  1. AlesiaMichelle said at 8:59 pm on Thursday May 23, 2013:
    "Tenants will be prohibited from acquiring a residential parking permit (RPP), and the developers are hoping to appeal to renters who don’t own a car." <--- This really needs to be enforced. With all these new mega apartment buildings (without mega parking garages) popping up in the Logan Circle U street area parking has become more than a hassle.
  1. Observer said at 9:23 pm on Thursday May 23, 2013:
    Then again, if you are looking for street parking, are you not also contributing as one of those people who has a house without the requisite parking? Microunits are likely to appeal to those who'd use a bike or car2go anyway.
  1. P streeter said at 10:00 pm on Thursday May 23, 2013:
    Wearing green may not have anything to do with one's apartment whether entered into agreement with a landlord or not. But it also has nothing to do with the District either. Parking permits however, are covered by the District and if a landlord enters into an zoning agreement with the District and thereby offers tenants an option to lease apartments to people agreeing to forego their RPP, then that would be different.
  1. mizark said at 2:13 pm on Friday May 24, 2013:
    Fair point, but it still seems sketchy to me and I'd love to hear the legality of it explained to a layperson like myself. [Cue Tracy Morgan Star Jones impression, "I'm a lawyer."] I guess I'm uncomfortable with the idea that a lease can enforce something that does not pertain to the upkeep, care, payment, etc of the unit you live in.
  1. LoganCircler said at 4:20 pm on Friday May 24, 2013:
    While I think this is a novel idea, people's life situations change - imagine you and your bike getting hit and you are injured and find yourself needing a car. There also may be some age discrimination issues here - as the elderly need cars. Would suck to buy a place like this at 50 then be forced to move out 20 years later because you really find the need for a car.
  1. Urban Paradise said at 4:26 pm on Friday May 24, 2013:
    I would be one of those tenants who would be interested in living in one of these micro-units. I currently live in a ~300 sq ft studio for the past two years from a large apartment in the suburbs. I don't own a car and I don't plan on having one. However, I do use Zipcar and Capital Bikeshare. Now, I am thinking of even moving into a smaller unit because I want to streamline space. Most of my stuff are multi-functional and I like that versatility. I can't wait until micro-units become available in Logan or Dupont!
  1. Me said at 4:26 pm on Friday May 24, 2013:
    The restriction on the RPP would be mitigation for the reduction in required parking, and would be written into the BZA order. DDOT maintains a list of addresses that are restricted from the RPP program through various zoning commission or BZA actions.
  1. Dupont Circler said at 4:33 pm on Friday May 24, 2013:
    LoganCircler...hmm... interesting arguments. What sort of injury would you get where a biker would have to transition into a car? If you can drive, why won't you be able to bike? Age discrimination with the elderly housing? Could you also argue that senior living houses dicriminates against young people? There's a senior living housing on Thomas Circle, which is a prime location for young professionals. If you're an elderly, wouldn't you be transitioning to a carless living situation? Perhaps taking a taxi (or uber) would be more suitable during as a person age.
  1. Jack Lukeman said at 12:30 am on Saturday May 25, 2013:
    I'm excited to see a movement in DC toward carbon independence! No cars mean more Zip cars, more Metro riders, more bikers and more street activity. I think this project represents a big step forward for the neighborhood. Also, I’ve been following this developer and I got a feeling this project when finished will be a nationwide examples of smart living and I got a good feeling this place will be leased withing days of hitting the market.
  1. Ms. D said at 1:55 am on Saturday May 25, 2013:
    I tend to agree that *convenient* car-free living is ideal for seniors. Many seniors lose their ability to drive as they age. My plan for my mom is to move her into my rental property if she finds herself unable to drive. It's only a block to the bus stop, which would get her to the Metro in under 5 minutes, and only one more block to the grocery store. Even if she had to cab it to grocery store, going 2 blocks sure beats going across town. Many people can walk a block or two, but not drive safely. And with the kids gone, why not economize on space?
  1. It Will Happen said at 5:57 am on Saturday May 25, 2013:
    I'd like to see a rendering showing various curtains hanging in all those units -- I wonder how 'light and airy' the building will look then. Or will a curtain prohibition be written into the lease as well?
  1. jackson said at 7:31 pm on Tuesday June 4, 2013:
    These are rentals, not condos or coops (for now). There are at least 45 zip cars within a 5 block radius of this building and “car to go” cars show up all the time. In addition, there’s 24 bikes at the 15th and P streets Bikeshare spot and public monthly, parking (which doesn’t require a permit) in the building next door. About the design - while glass is great for views, the majority of this glass faces the alley and other buildings. While glass is fine for looking out, remember, it also allows everyone to look in!
  1. Jeff said at 6:53 pm on Friday August 9, 2013:
    Not owning a car is not enforceable. Just a gimmic for a developer to squeeze more units into a small space. Additionally, obtaining a monthly lease in one of the nearby buildings will allow for off street parking and not requiring an RPP....but increasing all the traffic in the area. So much for the "green" gimmic. The building should not be allowed!

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