Housing Complex

JBG May Ditch Hotel at 13th and U, Build More Apartments Instead

The plan last time around.

Hot apartment market out there, you say? Major U Street landowner JBG agrees: They told ANC Commissioner Alexandra Lewin-Zwerdling over the weekend that the large hotel they'd planned at 13th and U Street NW will be a rental building instead, and she passed it on to several micro-listservs in the neighborhood. (It's not official yet: JBG senior vice president Matthew Blocher tells me they're still "exploring the mix of uses, overall density and height on the site," which is what developers say when they don't want to tell a reporter before community groups hear about their plans.)

Dangers lie either way, of course. JBG already has several large residential projects in the neighborhood, and rents are projected to level off with the new supply coming online over the next year. Hotels, though, are in the same boat.

Lewin-Zwerdling says JBG will make a presentation on the subject at 7:00 p.m. on April 10 at Busboys and Poets.

  • Chris in Eckington

    That's too bad; it would have been nice to have a hotel in that neighborhood, especially with the daytime foot traffic it adds. Not all visitors want to stay in Dupont, the West End, or downtown.

  • Archcritic

    That first design was a disaster. David Schwarz's mess gave soulless monoliths a bad name.

  • Eli

    I would much prefer a hotel there. Blah!

  • Thayer-D

    Who cares what's in it as long as they build that model. Beautiful, if only David Schwarz would design more in that neighborhood. Imagine a half a block of sliding grids in gass and concrete! No thanks.

  • Johnny

    There's no shortage of people who want to live on Ustreet so build away. In a city with height limits such as ours supply will never meet demand in a neighborhood like Ustreet.
    A hotel would have been cool too but the convention center hotels are just a couple clicks on the metro from there.
    Any new news on the Adams Morgan hotel? Ustreet is also an easy walk from there and Adams Morgan is hurting for daytime foot traffic a lot more than Ustreet.

  • trulee pist

    Why not both?

    Ritz-Carlton Residences


  • Dave

    Wow, archcritic. The--by far--most attractive building design to come out of the U Street/14th Street renaissance is a "disaster"? I'm not certain that I could disagree with you more. To my eyes, "disaster" aptly describes most of the souless, bland, uninspired boxes that Colbert and others have been throwing up all around that area over the last decade. The hotel project has a classic design that fits much better with the "traditional" neighborhood aesthetic. I just like it a lot more.

    As far as the hotel vs. apartments question; I was fine with the concept of a hotel, but anything to add residential units to a sky-high market is OK by me.

  • Non Liberal Democrat

    Gentrification is progressing moving non professional blacks out. If you are not educated, white, and making six figures, you can't afford to live on U Street, NW, Petworth, Columbia Heights, Shaw, Brightwood in the very near future.

  • DCist

    While a hotel with its day time use would help strengthen the U Street neighborhood, if there is market (as would the hotel project in Adams Morgan), key is good urban friendly contextual design for what is built. All the talented designers at David M Schwartz Architects get that and are doing great design throughout the country. Kudos to JBG for hiring them at Woodley Park and on U Street.

  • InIt2WinIt

    plenty of apartments, zero parking. Bad idea.

  • InIt2WinIt

    @non liberal democrat: There are plenty of professional African Americans who CHOOSE not to live in these communities. Capital Hill was once predominately black until they all moved to Prince Georges County for better property, more land and better schools. U Street Neighborhood is too congested. It has turned into Adams Morgan. Crime to follow.

  • Dave

    NLD, why do you note that gentrification is moving non-professional blacks out, and then proceed to say that you can only live in the neighborhood if you're white?

    I have to say, as someone who actually lives a few blocks off of U Street, and have done so for years, this "black people are gettign pushed out" talk is more than a bit tiring. Go stroll along U Street some night and revel in the diversity of people that you see there. If anything, it's a more diverse neighborhood now than it was 20 years ago.

  • Dave

    @InIt2WinIt: "plenty of apartments, zero parking. Bad idea."

    Actually, that makes sense. The people moving into small studios and 1 BRs in this neighborhood (which the bulk of these apartments would inevitably end up being) typically don't own cars, and don't want to. After all, with Metro, Bikeshare, bus lines, the Circulator and Zip Car all right there, the need for a car is minimal. The city is making the correct choice in not foisting parking requirements on developers in these neighborhoods.

  • Scott Pomeroy

    I am very disappointed with this turn of events. Of all of JBG's projects in the area, this is the one that is closest to the Metro entrance and therefore the best candidate for a non-traditional development that supports the health and vibrancy of the entire community, including all of their other housing projects.

    Residential housing is the absolute worst choice for that site, from a larger community perspective. Office space or a hotel are far better choices as they would provide a diversity of economy and time of use that would help balance the continuing expansion of the nighttime economy as the expense of daytime uses.

    A hotel would have brought a regular stream of dispensable income into the community that would support all facets of the economy including the shops and boutiques, personal services, cultural attractions, restaurants, theatres, and bars. They would have provided a well managed multi-use parking facility that would double to take visitor vehicle traffic off the street.

    Office use would serve the same purposes. Regular patrons of daytime businesses via business meetings. Whitman Walker as a source of customers from employees and visitors played a major role in keeping businesses like Home Rule, gomamago!, and Pulp viable for so many years when the residential population wasn't here yet.

    There is no way anyone can convince me that a hotel on U Street, one block from the metro entrance would not be successful. Whenever I travel to any new city, I look for an interesting neighborhood with public transportation access and can think of no better location than 13th & U. Direct access from National Airport, or BWI via the B40 bus to Greenbelt. This site is so much superior to the Adams Morgan location from a business perspective, though both are viable.

    I really hope that we can help JBG revisit this detour from their original plans.