Repurposing historic buildings is a recurring theme in Washington real estate these days. The latest example of that is Ditto Residential’s new project on Capitol Hill.
The home building company is partnering with CAS Reigler, a real estate development company, to convert an old public school, the James Edmonds School, at 901 D Street NE, into 20 condos. The school, which had been closed for decades, was built about 100 years ago.
“When we sit down in meetings, our goal is to have a debate about how to make it historic and how to make it cool,” said Martin Ditto, president of Ditto Residential, a joint venture partner with CAS Reigler.
In the parking lot next to the school, Ditto will build four townhouses.
The school building will feature a “creative confluence” of old and new, said Ditto, who started the firm four years ago. That means exposed brick and high ceilings coupled with hardwood floors and the standard amenities like in-unit washer and dryer.
“There is no way to be confused in the Edmonds School that it is a historic school,” Ditto said. The design, “allows the historical elements to bleed through.“
Using the school’s attic space, the corner second floor units will feature lofted ceilings that range from five to 14 feet. Four of the second floor units will also feature dormers that will peak at around 13 feet. The pitched roof, Ditto said, will add charm and coziness.
The condos will range from 500 to 1,800 square feet. Three of the townhouses will be about 3,700 and one will be as large as 4,100 square feet. Prices will range from the $300,000s to $1.8 million. Ditto says that he thinks the condos will draw a mix of people, from retired couples wanting to downsize, to young professionals looking for a safe place to live on Capitol Hill.
“We know Capitol Hill is a hot market, but there hasn’t been a lot of high-end condos built. . . . We are delivering something that isn’t available. If you want very beautiful fine condo living or townhomes, this is new construction in the heart of Capitol Hill,” he said.
The building design also includes 14 on-site parking spaces, a handful of them covered. The townhomes will each come with a parking space. For the condo units, the spaces will be an additional $35,000.
Neighbors, Ditto said, are happy with the redevelopment of the school which was formerly owned by the D.C. Teachers Federal Credit Union. The old school had become an eyesore in recent years with cars parked on the front lawn and cheap not historically correct vinyl windows installed.
Members of “the Capitol Hill Restoration Society are always helpful but critical,” Ditto said. “They were comparatively very happy with the design.”
Ditto said he hopes the project will be completed in a year.