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Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 01/24/2012

Columbia Heights’ disappearing mansions

Special to The Washington Post


The building at 1300 Euclid St. is a former single-family home now being converted to condos. (Brandon Green)

Update: Read the response by the owner of 1300 Euclid St. NW.

Grand single-family Victorian homes are disappearing in Columbia Heights and the narrative of 1300 Euclid St. NW is one such story.

Sold in August 2011 for $950,000, the six-bedroom, 5,000-square-foot home is being converted to six luxury condos by a local developer. This is happening all over the city and caused me to wonder — has the 5,000-square-foot urban mansion become obsolete by today’s living standards?

This isn’t the first time this has happened in Columbia Heights. Columbia Heights began as a horse track in the mid-1800s at 14th and Irving streets NW, and over time became a destination for wealthy Washingtonians who built mansions here in part because of the cool summer breezes (not sure where those went) and views of the city down below. By the 1920s, Columbia Heights was a bustling suburb of Washington with a fancy electric street car line running on 14th Street to the Tivoli, according to the Columbia Heights News Web site.

As the demographics changed, large mansions were converted into multifamily rental houses, and many of Columbia Heights’s mansions were either converted into apartments or were torn down.

Today, we are once again seeing the function of these mansions change. Perhaps it is the cost of maintaining 5,000 square feet, or perhaps it is our trend to downsize into smaller, more efficient spaces, or perhaps it is the increase in living costs. Whatever the reason, today’s buyer is much less interested in buying a mansion and more interested in a condo.

It is probably for the better, anyway. Most of the mansions that have converted into condos did so because they needed tremendous work — which is better suited for an investor who, given the option, will convert to condos to maximize return. I’ve sold many of these buildings, and my clients who live in the condos are happy to be in Columbia Heights and thankful that they could find something within their budget.

Yet I can’t help but reminisce about what it must have been like in Columbia Heights in 1920, riding the streetcar north on 14th, viewing mansion after mansion — many of which are now lost to history.

Neighborhood guide: Columbia Heights.

Brandon Green is managing partner of Keller Williams Capital Properties and president of Brandon Green Cos., a D.C. real estate firm.

Would you like to contribute to the Where We Live blog? E-mail us at realestate@washpost.com.

By Brandon Green  |  06:00 AM ET, 01/24/2012

 
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