Housing Complex

D.C. Starting to Cannibalize its Rental Housing Again

Goin' condo. (Google Maps)

Goin' condo. (Google Maps)

The Washington Business Journal's Tierney Plumb reports this morning that 1801 and 1811 Wyoming Avenue–two handsome, whitewashed buildings in lower Adams Morgan–have been bought by Urban Investment Partners, which plans to renovate and convert them into condos.

And that's only the beginning, suggests Ari Firoozabadi of Marcus and Millichap, which arranged the sale.

“Anything west of Columbia Heights and south of Military Road over is great for condo conversion,” Firoozabadi told the WBJ. “There seems like a lot of demand.”

It's one thing to take vacant, abandoned buildings and turn them into livable units, as UrbanTurf investigated last month. It's another to take serviceable rentals and convert them into expensive condos, which will inevitably displace some people in the process. With the pent up condo demand that brokers have been warning about for months, anyone hoping to rent affordably in D.C. should hope and pray that Doug Jemal manages to get his downtown apartments built, and that the infill continues at a steady rate.

  • Native JD

    We WANT condos. Rentals are transients. Give the federal workforce affordable condos.

  • Manor

    Convert the section 8's, they need to be distributed over a wider area.

  • jules

    UGH, there are some of us who are NOT transient...but we're too young and poor to buy right now. We want to live in great places and we love DC...

    But how are we supposed to afford it?

  • Office Monkey

    Uhm, what makes you think a condo in Adams Morgan will meet any standard definition of affordable?

  • http://www.uipllc.com Steve

    What Lydia fails to present in her article is the fact that this condominium conversion was the product of the Tenants organizing and controling their own destiny.

    Of the 40 or so Tenants in the property, about half are buying their completely renovated apartment/condo for about $200,000 less than the market rate condominiums will sell for. Those that chose or could not buy their apartment received a substantial cash payment, others have the right to return and rent their completely renovated unit for the same rent as they were paying before.

    No one is stealing affordable apartments, Tenants are taking control as the law allows and UIP is enabling them to create financial value where none existed before.

    Sometimes Tenants choose to convert to condo, other times, like at 1921 Kalorama Road NW, Tenants choose to keep the building rental. The point is, it is the Tenants decision, UIP just helps them achieve their goals.

  • Blue Pen

    Hmm Steve. You link to the developer. Would be good to hear from four or five tenants of the building. I used to know someone who lived there.

    Five floors in each of those buildings, by my count, and only 40 tenants?

  • Sally

    Lydia getting a story wrong?

    There's a shocker.

  • Lydia DePillis

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for bringing up the backstory. I didn't mean to accuse UIP of anything nefarious, and it sounds like this worked out to be a good deal for the residents. But I do stand by the overall point: greater demand all over the city is creating pressure for rental buildings to go condo, which changes the landscape of available housing. That can be a wonderful opportunity for those who can afford it and want to own homes rather than rent. It makes things more difficult for those who haven't yet reached that stage.



  • Sally

    Really - the only affordable place in all of DC will be Jemal's buildings? Really? There's no other affordable housing in all of DC other than this? Or do you mean affordable living in an expensive part of town? Because that's a whole different issue. And the "serviceable rentals" were offered to their tenants to purchase it at a significant discount, if they could afford it.

    You're what - a year or two out of college? Went to some fancy Ivy League school on the East Coast? City Paper is your first real job out of college?

    Maybe before you make some sweeping judgments, you should do more basic research, reach out to people who have been here for a while, and then write up a story. It would save you - and the City Paper - from having to do regular clarifications.

  • Steve


    Please add a constructive comment or leave the critical negativism to yourself.

  • Mrs. D

    Native, are you a clerk or something? I'm a federal employee and recently purchased a condo in DC. I went with a developing neighborhood to take advantage of planned development and likely gentrification (and the subsequent increase in the value of my home). However, I *could* have afforded a place in any number of moderately desirable -to- newly gentrifying neighborhoods, near Metro stops, close to downtown, with great services. In fact, many of my friends and coworkers did choose these locations (off the top of my head, recent purchases include Columbia Heights, Park View, Shaw, Adams Morgan, Potomac Avenue, and H Street). Or are you just of the mindset that you're entitled to a three-bedroom, gut-remodeled, single-family home in the heart of Georgetown/Capitol Hill/Kalorama just by virtue of, I don't know, existing? Sure, there's lots of expensive stuff out there, but there's lots of affordable stuff too.

  • sam

    "There’s no other affordable housing in all of DC other than this?"

    Are you aware that affordable housing in DC is extremely scarce? The waiting list through the Housing Authority exceeds 26,000 families.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Lydia- Before offering any opinions do you what were the rents for an apartment in these buildings?

    Steve- What are the prices that these tenants are eligible to purchase at? Also, what is a "substantial" cash payment for those who opt not to buy.

    Without these facts, it would be hard to say one way or another, who if anyone is getting the short end of the stick. I too suspect the tenants- but according to DC law, they had the right to purchase this building before any outside interest could. Let's get the facts and we can argue all we want later.

  • renter
  • buckie davis

    I looked into the Wyoming deal...the residents themselves decided to coop, not UIP who originally offered to manage...

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