WASHINGTON, D.C. – The buzz is all about condos in the up-and-coming, hip-and-trendy Logan Circle area in Washington, D.C.

Actually, the buzz is rather loud, and it sounds a lot like hammers, power tools and the associated clatter of construction activity.

The noise is an integral part of Logan Circle’s ambience these days, as crews crank out the latest round of high-rise luxury condo units in an area that locals say was more of an eyesore than an eye-catcher in the not-so-distant past.

From gaping holes in the ground to towering skeletons, the projects now under way range from new construction to renovations of historic buildings, and everything in between. While some experts have cautioned about the risks of overbuilding in some super-hot condo markets, such as Miami and San Diego, those same words of caution would be drown out by the commotion of rampant condo conversion and construction in parts of the nation’s capital.

A construction worker, wearing a hardhat and carrying a bag lunch, commented Wednesday on all the condo activity as he walked past one condo project en route to another nearby construction site.

“They’re going up everywhere. I don’t know who can afford them,” the worker said. He said he’s heard prices of up to $750,000 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo unit in a particularly upscale building.

The worker credited the opening of a Whole Foods high-end grocery store in the neighborhood for helping to transform the area.

Across the street from that grocery store, in a sales office for condo developer PN Hoffman, stands a scale-model of a massive, 200-condo complex that is under construction several blocks away. The project, called Union Row, will also feature 50 warehouse studios and townhomes. Much of the project will feature brand-new construction, while some warehouse space at the site will be extensively renovated as housing units.

Penthouse level one-bedroom units at this Union Row development site are selling for $685,000 to $844,900. A two-bedroom unit with a loft-style den, two bathrooms and a roof terrace is selling for upwards of $1 million.

The marketing materials are selling a lifestyle along with the roof over your head: for Union Row, the full-color spiral-bound booklet maps the development site’s proximity to local eateries, watering holes and musical venues.

The booklet notes that the project is nestled “among the rhythm and revival of U Street,” complete with its “neighborhood vibe.” Also: “For listening pleasure, jazz lounges and clubs are just outside your door. Inside your home, visually stimulating track lighting and exposed ductwork complement the texture of exposed concrete ceilings.” And the units also come equipped with wood floors, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and “European-inspired wood cabinetry.”

Balker Kemal, a worker in the Kazanchis Groceries and Deli market on 14th St. in the Logan Circle area, said that about two years from now, the area’s transformation will be complete as the many construction projects wrap up. “In another two years it’s going to be very expensive,” he said. Kemal said that the presence of the gay community has helped to change the face of the area.

The area is already bustling with an established community of apartment and condo dwellers, restaurants, bars and clubs in the neighborhoods surrounding Logan circle and Dupont Circle.

Across the street from the Logan Circle-area Whole Foods store is the DeSoto at Logan Circle, an urban-edged apartment high-rise with stained concrete floors and a chic Latin-Asian bar and grill on the ground level. A nightclub, bistro, tavern and designer eyewear shop are in the same block.

Around the corner, another project called “the matrix” is now no more than a hollowed-out shell of a multistory building, with spray-painted graffiti still visible beneath its massive advertising banner strung from wall to wall across the front of the building. But the project does have a flashy Web site, complete with an image of young urban hipsters shooting pool.

As with other projects in the area, the Web address for the matrix is prominently displayed on the building’s sign.

The condo development process is evident at the micro level, too, with some developers turning aging, dilapidated low-rise residential buildings into small-scale condo projects.


Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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