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Micro apartments pitched for Patterson Mansion by Dupont Circle

Tuesday - 2/11/2014, 11:31am  ET

A new developer has stepped in with plans to convert the historic Patterson Mansion by Dupont Circle into micro apartments after a previous concept to turn the building into a boutique hotel received a cool reception from D.C.'s Historic Preservation Review Board late last year.

SB-Urban, the Bethesda-based venture formed by Mike Balaban and Frank Saul III, have submitted plans to the review board to redevelop the building at 15 Dupont Circle into sub-400-square-foot apartment units, according to D.C. Historic Preservation Office staffer Steve Callcott.

The joint venture, which has also floated plans for micro apartments at the former Latham Hotel in Georgetown, wants to tear down a two-story addition and replace it with a taller, seven-story addition. The plans also call for using the building's ballrooms and meeting space for common areas to make up for the diminutive apartment sizes.

SB-Urban has a contract to buy the Patterson, which was built around 1901 for Chicago Tribune publisher Robert Patterson, from The Washington Club. The club wants to sell the building due to declining membership and listed it with Washington Fine Properties back in July for an asking price of $26 million. It had a previous contract to sell the building to an Atlanta-based hospitality group that wanted to convert it into a hotel.

French Quarter Hospitality presented its plans for a boutique hotel in October but did not ask the board for an official review due to concerns Callcott raised about the project's impact on the historic building. The board reacted positively to some aspects of the developer's proposal, however, and ruled that the two-story addition, built about 55 years after the building's initial construction, was not historically significant and could be torn down.

Callcott said he has not prepared an official review of SB-Urban's latest proposal but believes it could meet with a warmer response than French Quarter's proposal. He said the addition would be built with enough distance between it and the existing mansion to provide a "visual separation from the mansion." In addition, the addition's architecture will be built with more uniform floor-to-ceiling heights — a problem with the French Quarter proposal because it included taller floors topped by smaller ones.

The board could consider the proposal as early as Feb. 27, but Callcott said it is more likely to be taken up at its March 6 meeting. The Advisory Neighborhood Commission overseeing Dupont Circle is also expected to consider the proposal at its monthly meeting slated for Wednesday.

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