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The Most Likely Building Trend to Replace Pop-Ups—The Hop-Back

by Nena Perry-Brown

The Most Likely Building Trend to Replace Pop-Ups -- The Hop-Back: Figure 1
Aerial rendering of the approved Quincy Street hop-back

UrbanTurf usually stays away from publishing rankings or lists…except at the end of the year when we look back at what DC’s residential real estate scene had to offer during the previous 12 months. So, this week we are looking at not only the best but the most intriguing and peculiar things that came across our radar over the course of 2017. Enjoy.


A few years ago, pop-ups were the talk of the town in DC when it came to residential additions — both as a popular option for developers and as a source of ire for residents of popular neighborhoods. Now, the “hop-back” is gaining steam as an alternative form of addition.

Hop-backs are developments that take existing buildings and increase density by constructing a rear structure that is connected to the street-facing property. Hop-backs take advantage of zoning rules that state that a rear structure connected to a front structure by a “meaningful connection” in the form of a covered walkway is considered to be one building; thus far, hop-backs have required additional zoning approval.

The Most Likely Building Trend to Replace Pop-Ups -- The Hop-Back: Figure 2
Rendering of the “meaningful connection” that unifies the front and rear structures into one building

Examples of hop-backs that UrbanTurf has seen have involved combining multiple existing lots and buildings into one and adding a hop-back to deliver fewer than 10 residential units (and a few rear surface parking spaces) to a particular site.

Developer Eric Hirshfield and architect firm Arcadia Design have been leading the way with these projects, having teamed up this year on an all-residential hop-back on Quincy Street in Petworth; there is also a mixed-use hop-back at 14th and Riggs Streets NW. The projects seem to have been received relatively well by the neighbors — especially in comparison to a traditional by-right rear addition; the Quincy Street project has already been approved by the Board of Zoning Adjustment.

“[If] we put the bulk or that mass of that addition on the back of the house, we would block the neighbors’ light,” Hirshfield explained. “This is a better way to utilize the lot: same 60 percent lot occupancy, same height, same density, we’re just putting the addition at the back of the lot.”

In light of previous zoning restrictions aimed to curb runaway pop-ups and newer zoning rules that restrict traditional rear additions, expect to see more hopback-style projects springing up throughout the city in 2018.

See other articles related to: hop back dc, best of 2017, 2017 year in review

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_most_likely_building_trend_to_replace_pop-ups_--_the_hop-back/13339

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