The Next 700 Units in the Works in and Around Congress Heights

  • October 26th 2020

by Nena Perry-Brown

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Congress Heights is one of DC's most affordable neighborhoods, but also one of the most profitable zip codes to flip a house. When it comes to new development, however, the neighborhood has as many multifamily projects in-progress as it does in limbo. 

Today, UrbanTurf checks in on Congress Heights, and some of the areas adjacent, to see how the continuing redevelopment of the St. Elizabeths campus and the need to replace aging housing stock is propelling the residential pipeline.

In case you missed them, here are the other neighborhoods we have covered thus far this year:

Congress Heights Town Center

Although this development has gotten some wins over the past year, it remains in a legal holding pattern. Developer CityPartners applied for another extension of the 2015 planned-unit development (PUD) for Alabama Avenue and 13th Street SE (map) last year, a project which would deliver a 280,000 square-foot office building, a 215-unit apartment building, 25,200 square feet of ground-floor retail, and improvements to the Congress Heights Metro station plaza. Maurice Walters Architects furnished the design seen above.

The Zoning Commission (ZC) granted a one-year extension in October 2019 despite opposition from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), giving CityPartners until June 2020 to file for building permits. It does not appear that any have yet been filed, although ZC approved a blanket six-month extension for expiring developments. Litigation between residents of the existing buildings and the developer has not yet been resolved — nor has a suit the city filed against the developer.

This holding pattern largely stems from the prosecution and subsequent banning of former slumlord property owner Sanford Capital, which led to the property being put into receivership. Since the PUD was extended, the receiver of the property was meant to finish resolving any outstanding housing code violations and remediate mold in the existing units, but the litigation the developer cited in its extension application continues and it appears doubtful that permits will get filed by the end of the year. 

St. Elizabeths East

Redevelopment of the St. Elizabeths East campus on the opposite side of Alabama Avenue (map) continues to be the center of activity in the neighborhood. The Residences at St. Elizabeths East, rendered above, have delivered over 250 units retrofit into seven historic campus buildings. At least another 750 residential units, 600,000 square feet of commercial space, two hotels, and a 275,000-300,000 square-foot hospital in partnership with George Washington University Hospital are on the boards.

Before details roll in on additional residential developments, plans are being released for other infrastructure and development components (like the new Whitman-Walker center), and another three parcels are in line for developers. Redbrick LMD and Gragg Cardona Partners are the master-planners of the development.

Redbrick was awarded development rights for Parcel 15 in February 2019, and the city approved disposition of the site last July. Four buildings are proposed, surrounding a town square: a 200,000 square-foot office building, a hotel with up to 150 rooms, and two residential buildings with 129 and 159 units. There would also be up to 450 below-grade parking spaces and up to 50,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. 

Last month, the Historic Preservation Review Board approved District Towns, an 88 townhouse development bounded by 12th and S Streets between Alabama Avenue and Sycamore Drive SE (map). Thirty percent of the townhouses will be affordable dwelling units for households earning between 30-80% of area median income. As designed by Lessard Design, the two- and three-bedroom townhouses would have a fourth story loft and outdoor terrace, and the second floor would function as the main level with a rear deck. Each would also have an interior one- or two-car garage on the ground floor with either a flex space or a bedroom suite.

Terrace Manor Redevelopment

There has been progress for another, now-vacant property previously owned by Sanford Capital: the 12-building Terrace Manor at 2270-2272 and 2276 Savannah Street SE and 3341-3353 23rd Street SE (map). While W.C. Smith abandoned previous redevelopment plans in 2018, a new PUD application was approved for the site in September. The proposed 130-unit building would be all-affordable to households earning up to 60 percent of median family income, although most will be on a 40-year covenant.

The unit mix spans one- to three-bedrooms, and the Stoiber + Associates designed development will also include 60 vehicular and 40 long term bicycle spaces in a below grade garage. The project will also have some rooftop solar panels and a community garden and bio-pond in the rear courtyard.

3836-3848 South Capitol Street SE

Some environmental site work has taken place since a PUD was approved in Spring 2019 to redevelop the site of two residential buildings at 3836-3848 South Capitol Street SE (map). The 51 foot-tall, 106-unit development planned will enable residents of the existing 30 apartments on the site to return, and the unit mix will span studios to three-bedrooms. Overall, 80% of the units will be for households earning up to 50% of area median income (AMI) and the remainder will be for households earning up to 30% of AMI. Kaye Stern Properties is the developer and Torti Gallas Urban is the architect.

Wheeler Renaissance

Over in Washington Highlands, a PUD extension application was approved last year for the seven-story, 85-unit building which would replace the shopping center at Wheeler Road and Barnaby Street SE (map), giving the developer until April 2021 to apply for building permits. The development would include 15,566 square feet of commercial space, and all of the studio to three-bedroom units would be affordable to households earning up to 60% of AMI. Amenities would include a penthouse fitness center, lounge, yoga room and children's playroom. Washington Business Group is the developer and SGA Companies is the designer. 

See other articles related to: congress heights, development rundown

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the-next-700-units-in-the-works-in-and-around-congress-heights/17423.

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