Buchanan Park: Creating a new Capitol Hill neighborhood around — and in — an old D.C. school

A team of three developers is nearing completion of the first phase of Buchanan Park, a Hill East project that will install new condos inside a century-old school and townhouses on the property.

It represents an important step forward for the 1300 block of D Street SE that was in need of a boost when Insight Property Group and Federal Capital Partners purchased the property for $21 million in late 2015.

“Federal Capital and Insight saw this as an incredible site in a great neighborhood and community,” said Insight Partner Rebecca Snyder. “It’s a privilege to bring it back.”

Buchanan Park will feature 41 four-level townhouses, many with garages and nine with elevators. Prices will average about $1.3 million for the three-bedroom, four-bath homes, said FCP senior associate Stephen Stover. The exteriors will be all-brick with slate roofs, blending the new construction with the neighborhood’s historic homes. There are private rooftop decks wired for gas, water and electricity.

The development will feature a pedestrian mews, a grassy common area, new trees, wide stoops, and restoration of Guetler Way, an alley that connected the block in the 1800s. Insight and FCP have also rescued William Tarr sculptures that were part of a long-forgotten Lady Bird Johnson playground on the block. The concrete sculptures will be restored and placed in Buchanan Park’s common areas.

The townhouses surround the Buchanan School on two sides. The two former D.C. Public School buildings, built in 1895 and 1922, were sold by the DCPS in the 1990s. It most recently served as home to International Graduate University, a school with an interesting backstory.

Ditto Residential acquired the school from Insight and FCP for $6.8 million, and got to work on gutting the building. Some of its architectural features, now restored, remain, though each of the 41 units will be very different, said Ditto marketing director Callie Bruemmer.

The wide school stairways — including the antique soapstone treads with the wear of thousands of school kids — are still in place. Many of the units will have 13-foot ceilings, exposed original brick and large, arched windows (though the glass has been replaced).

The Buchanan School finishes are a bit of a departure for Ditto, which usually goes for a more modern aesthetic, Bruemmer said. She said to expect a mix of old and new, with wide plank floors, wood-grain kitchen cabinets mixed with white cabinets and marble bathrooms.

Units on the building’s east side will have private balconies or patios. Prices will range from the mid-$300,000s to about $1 million.

The first townhouses are expected to deliver in June. Six have been sold so far, Snyder said. The first condos are expected to deliver later this summer.

The development is part of a larger redevelopment happening in the neighborhood. Buchanan Park backs up to the community Safeway, where Foulger-Pratt plans an overhaul to residential over retail. Watkins Elementary across the street is undergoing a $40 million renovation (expected to be completed in August). Ditto and Insight, along with OPaL LLC, are also working on projects in the formerly industrial 1300 block of E Street SE.

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2017/04/19/creating-a-new-capitol-hillneighborhood-around-and.html

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