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SB-Urban goes micro again, this time in Blagden Alley

Monday - 8/18/2014, 2:22pm  ET

SB-Urban is playing small ball.

First, the fledgling joint venture from Mike Balaban and Frank Saul III p roposed to convert Georgetown’s Latham Hotel into 140 micro-units. Then, it acquired the Patterson Mansion in Dupont Circle, with plans of renovating it as 90 luxury micro-units. Now, it has filed plans with the Board of Zoning Adjustments to construct two new micro(ish) buildings in Blagden Alley, with 125 units.

The Blagden Alley project, the concept for which was approved by the Historic Preservation Review Board on July 31, will be constructed on a pair of lots, one fronting M Street and the other on Ninth Street NW. It will feature two buildings — 81 units on M Street and 44 units on Ninth — connected by an above-ground pedestrian walkway. The Ninth Street building will contain a 903-square-foot retail space.

The project will offer “small-unit” (SB-Urban does not use the term “micro”) furnished rental apartments “with distinctive shared living spaces for people who live a very urban and career-prioritized lifestyle.”

They will not own cars, which is good, because the project, if approved by the BZA, will not provide any parking. The Zoning Regulations require 61 spaces.

Per the application, the “shape and narrowness of the lot” make it difficult to meet the zoning requirements for parking without degrading historic Blagden Alley. The site “cannot efficiently accommodate parking spaces, ramps, and drive aisles without digging deeply for many parking levels at great expense.”

Instead, “given the very low likelihood of residents having cars,” SB-Urban has opted to go without any parking, as those spaces will be unused and will lead to “unnecessarily higher rents.” The developer has agreed to provide new residents with Capital Bikeshare and car-share memberships, to install an electronic display that provides public transit information, to construct a bicycle repair facility on the lower level and to provide at least 10 bicycle helmets for residents’ use.

Each apartment will be roughly 350 square feet. The project will include “significant shared-living spaces and amenities,” including shared kitchens, shared laundry, living room, den and game room. It will offer a large equipped gym and library, and a secure bike storage room. The amenity spaces will be incorporated into a historic garage on the M Street property.

“The applicant’s intended demographic for this project is single professionals who want to live in a walkable neighborhood close to the central business district with urban amenities and convenience access to public transportation,” the application states.

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