Are D.C. apartment dwellers ready for New York-style, matchbox-sized apartments? One of the Big Apple's largest residential landlords, Aria Development Group, is betting $32 million on it.
Aria is finishing up a $10 million renovation of the International Monetary Fund's Bond Building, halfway between Dupont and Washington circles, where it has worked for the past year to introduce Manhattan-style, small-but-efficient apartments to D.C.'s rental housing stock.
Aria founder Joshua Benaim told me Tuesday he believes the smaller apartments, ranging from about 400 to 700 square feet, will fill a gap in the District's luxury housing market. Aria hopes to command New York-style rental prices for those units, which will hover between $2,500 and $3,500 per month.
In Benaim's words, the apartment sizes are "more of a New York animal, which is more of an efficient apartment."
The company has retained Gaithersburg-based Oculus Realty LLC to market the units, projected to be ready occupancy starting Aug 1. Oculus is preparing to launch a marketing campaign, perhaps as early as this week, but so far is keeping the project under wraps. The Bond Building's website promises it will be a "future home of something quite cool."
The renovation of the Bond is Aria's first residential project in the District. When the company was looking for the right building and location for its initial D.C. project, it selected the Bond — a vacant, 79-unit apartment building developed in 1929 — because of its prewar exterior, architectural touches and address close to Dupont and Washington circles, Georgetown and the Golden Triangle.
"The thesis of this project, for me, was to bring out the prewar soul of the building, especially the exterior of the building," Benaim said. "What we really tried to do was was to combine the historic beauty of being in Dupont Circle and the West End with lifestyle, modern living."
Its renovation, which created 83 apartment units, drew heavily on the building's historic construction and included a blend of old and new, Benaim said.
Baltimore-based Fiingles Metalworks Inc. fashioned a historic cast-iron canopy for the building's main entrance. It retained architecture firm Fritz & Gignoux to design an expansive English-style garden in the building's front yard and a courtyard with private gardens.
Inside, the building features Wi-Fi, hardwood floors, an advanced video intercom and Nest thermostats that can be programmed remotely. Aria retained D.C.-based Bonstra Haresign Architects to help design the apartment units.
Aria is working on a second project on 13th Street in Columbia Heights and has an eye toward other potential acquisitions elsewhere in the District.
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