Housing Complex

Pop-Ups May Not Be Popular, But They Sure Are Profitable


D.C.'s most notorious residential pop-up is for sale as condos, and they aren't cheap.

Over the past year, a two-story rowhouse on V Street NW has grown three additional stories, towering over its neighbors and arousing ire from locals and architectural aesthetes. It's assumed a grandiose name, The Ella (think Fitzgerald, along the lines of the nearby Ellington and Langston). And now its owner stands to turn a healthy profit.

The ground-floor unit, a 750-square-foot one-bedroom, is priced in the "high 300s," according to TTR Sotheby's realtor (and former Washington City Paper sales rep) Nick DeBlasio. The 1,400-square-foot unit occupying the second and third floors is on the market for $799,900. And the choice unit, a 1,450-square-foot two-bed/three-bath with a balcony and monument views from its much-impugned vantage, is going for $850,900.

The total for the three units: more than $2 million.

The interior of the top unit in The Ella.

The interior of the top unit in The Ella.

The latest sale price and date for the rowhouse are not listed in the city's property records, but DCist reported earlier this year that the purchase took place in September 2011 for $386,000. (The current owner of the house is listed as a limited liability corporation with an address in Leesburg, Va., where no one could be reached.) The house was assessed this year at $383, 100.

Of course, the pop-up didn't come cheap; a D.C. contractor I spoke with this spring said a high-quality pop-up costs somewhere in the $300,000 range—and a three-story pop-up is likely more. Even still, we're probably looking at a profit of more than $1 million.

And so there's a silver lining for The Ella's V Street neighbors who are upset about losing their block's uniformity and a good chunk of their natural light: Now that the value of the space above their roofs has been established, their property values effectively just went up.

Another view of the interior.

Another view of the interior.

This post has been updated to include information reported by DCist.

Photos courtesy of TTR Sotheby's

  • Lane

    I think discussions of the profitability of this particular enterprise should be reserved until these units have actually sold. These asking prices seem very optimistic to me.

  • chris

    When the framing first went up, I couldn't believe they would build something like this. Now that it's finished, I kind of like it.
    It's better than the popups where I live in Hill East that make a feeble attempt to make a 3rd story blend in with the rest of the house, or look like someone's stuck a trailer on the roof.

  • tntdc

    The only appeal is that it's across the street from a historic district so the houses on the other side of V can't do the same and the beautiful view of a historic district is guaranteed. Put a clone pop-up across the street from it and it's value halves. The historic district should have been on both sides of V.

  • Paxton Helms

    If these condos sell for anywhere near their asking price, I would say that they are quite popular indeed.

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  • JJ

    That's a lot of stairs for $850,000.

  • JP

    I doubt any of these units will sell for anywhere near list price. The building is so horrible that any reasonable buyer will question the quality of construction.

    Here is my prediction for sale prices (if any):

    1st Floor: $239K
    2nd/3rd: $425K
    4th/5th: $489K

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

    For what it's worth, this block is commercially zoned, which allows for taller buildings than a comparable residential zoning classification, and likely the underlying value present in allowable height is already monetized in the price-value of the building.

    And because it is a commercially zoned block, the impact of the "increase in value" isn't extendable in the same fashion to residential blocks.

    And in the context of residential blocks, houses that are outliers in terms of height, mass, bulk can depress the value of adjacent properties, not increase them.

    Why don't you do a story on that?


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  • Reecha

    No kidding

  • Saka

    You buy it

  • Nerkee

    Why does she do this?