Housing Complex

Woodley Park “McMansions” in the Flesh

Despite the best efforts of the neighbors and most of the City Council, the two monster houses on the corner of 29th and Garfield Street NW got built after all. According to the office of obscenely-large-house broker Marc Fleisher, the rear house is under contract and will close at the end of the month (the "No McMansions!" signs across the street will make for a nice welcome) and the not-yet-completed one will go on the market when it's finished.

In one way, the aggrieved neighbors are correct: The two houses, with seven and five bedrooms, are in pretty terrible taste. But the really offensive thing isn't the size, or even the loss of mature trees that used to surround the smaller brick colonial on the site. If those buildings held five apartments or condos each, they would be perfectly fitting additions to a neighborhood that's becoming more urban by the year—and, I would think, even more profit for the developer! Instead, we get a crowded-looking corner that's nearly empty of new residents, which is a loss to everyone involved.

  • er

    i'm not convinced that theses places are uglier than all the curb cuts across the street. or the even previous colonial. or most of the nearby houses along garfield. most are pretty ugly to me.
    and shouldn't people be free to have insanely large houses in dc?

  • Stephanie

    Using your horrendously failed logic, would you also then advocate building an Olive Garden-or maybe a Crunch gym-on Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg? A 25,000 square foot medieval castle in Oak Park? It is not a question of ugliness, which (as you prove) is inherently subjective. Rather it's a question of appropriateness as measured against a set of standards, in this case, dozens of other dwellings in a neighborhood built in the early part of the 20th C. by architects trying to fashion a village. Whether the new homes are "village like" and/or of a certain style is a subject of debate, but if you poll neighborhood residents you'll certainly find a trend in their responses as evidenced by the many signs on their lawns voicing disapproval.

  • er

    no stephanie i would not. nor did i advocate building this house.

  • Bob See

    The problem is I think the zoning designation here doesn't allow for apartment buildings, and it's doubtful a variance or rezoning request would be either welcome or approved.

  • KGP

    To Stephanie:
    Hey, guess what? Washington D.C. is not Colonial Williamsburg.

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    Good point about apartments. One of these days I plan to write a piece on the lack of diversity of housing types in most residential zones and the various problems that result.

  • conora cohen

    More important will be the wonderful families that move into this neighborhood and bring a dimension of growth and sophistication.
    Too much whining about non issues.
    Get over it people

  • Matt

    Have you seen the ugly houses across the street? Artifacts they are not. Unquestionably the townhouses across Garfield are more dense and certainly less attractive. As per size not more than half a block away are homes of equal size. I understand that neighbors don't like construction, but seriously, McMansions???, they need to take the metro to ashburn to find those, oh wait it doesn't go there.