Housing Construction Boom Crosses South Capitol Street

South by West
Camden South Capitol will be the first new rental apartment building to open in Southwest in several decades when it opens later this year. Photo: William Rich

A residential building boom that has covered the city in construction cranes is now underway in Southwest, which will soon bring several new apartment buildings and even more new residents to the neighborhood. With more than 1,500 multifamily units either currently under construction or planned to start construction this year, the streets and sidewalks of Southwest will no doubt be more crowded with construction equipment and people. Three buildings are currently under construction and several more are scheduled to start in 2013. The last time a new multifamily building opened its doors in the quadrant was in 2005 when Potomac Place Condos came on the market. Since then, there have been a couple of condo conversion projects, but no new construction until now. This time around, most of the multifamily buildings are planned as rental apartments.

First Up - Camden South Capitol

Construction began in the middle of 2011 at Camden South Capitol apartments across the street from Nationals Park at the corner of South Capitol Street, SW and O Street, SW. By June, leasing should begin and move-ins shortly thereafter at the 276-unit project. There will be ground floor retail space – perhaps a restaurant or bar that will cater to Nats fans. Local firm WDG Architecture has designed the 11-story apartment building, which will have a rooftop pool with BBQ grills and outdoor fire pit, cyber cafe, and a resident gaming lounge with kitchen. In-unit features will include: Energy Star stainless steel appliances, electric oven ranges with ceramic glass cook tops, solar shades, 42" upper cabinets, double vanities in select units, garden soaking tubs, and stand-up showers in select units. Several units on the higher floors will have views into Nationals Park, the Anacostia River, the Capitol dome and the Washington Monument. Project Website: www.camdensouthcapitol.com

Sky House

The first residential phase of Waterfront Station began construction in the winter of 2012. Two of the former Environmental Protection Agency buildings at the old Waterside Mall were sold to Urban Atlantic the prior year and they began transforming the old office buildings into rental apartments in partnership with the JBG Companies. Sky House phase one (the east tower) started first and the second phase building (west tower) began a few months later. Upon completion, both buildings will contain 530 apartments with 20% set aside as affordable housing for households earning up to 50% of Area Median Income (AMI) and will be the tallest residential buildings in Southwest. The buildings have been designed by local firm Wiencek & Associates, which will have a blue glass exterior and will blend in with the existing office buildings at Waterfront Station. RD Jones & Associates designed the interiors to include several project amenities for each building including a fitness center, club room, demonstration kitchen, and pet washing area. Outdoor amenities will include rooftop pools and decks, gardens, and a fire pit. Both buildings will be designed slightly different, but they both will have similar amenities and common areas will resemble a boutique hotel. The buildings will be at least LEED certified, but may reach Silver status. Leasing will begin this summer on phase one. Project Website: www.skyhousedc.com

The Wharf

A major milestone took place in late 2012 when the Zoning Commission gave preliminary approval for the Stage 2 Planned Unit Development (PUD) for phase one of development at The Wharf along the Southwest Waterfront. Pending any delays in obtaining financing and any other loose ends, groundbreaking on Phase One is only a few months away. There are five residential buildings planned in phase one of development – three rental apartment buildings and two condominium buildings. The two rental apartment buildings in Parcel 2 will contain approximately 481 units with about 30% set aside as affordable and workforce housing. About one third of the units in Parcel 2 will be considered “micro units.” These units will range from 330 - 380 square feet and will have space-saving features such as built-in furniture and cabinets, Murphy beds, and small appliances. Large windows will offer views of the Washington Channel and some units will have small French balconies. The theory behind having smaller units is that the lifestyle of people in cities has changed - many renters spend less time in their living space and more time at restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues, which will all be present at The Wharf. Smaller units are also more affordable for renters (and more profitable for developers). Parcel 4A is planned as a 175-unit rental apartment building (about 40% set aside as affordable and workforce housing) facing Maine Avenue, SW with units on the upper floors  On the Washington Channel side of Parcel 4, a 134-unit condo building is planned. A second condo building is planned where St. Augustine’s Church is located today with 109 units (12 set aside as workforce units), but that building won’t get started in 2013.  Project Website: www.wharfdc.com

St. Matthew’s

A lot on the corner of M Street, SW and Delaware Avenue, SW will soon become 210 rental apartment units and a new sanctuary for St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. A portion of the units will be set aside as either affordable or workforce housing. Some of the planned apartment amenities include a fitness center, lounge, and screening room. Design cues for the building were taken from neighboring residences like River Park and Waterfront Tower, and the incorporation of a courtyard was done to fit in with the Southwest building style of having apartments frame courtyards. Interim uses on the site have included a Christmas tree lot and a community garden while the project went through the approvals process. The PUD was approved in 2012 and construction is supposed to get started by the end of this year.

Will rich is a blogger at Southwest…The Little Quadrant that Could.

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