Chodorov, a real estate agent with Long & Foster, writes an occasional column about local housing market trends.
The construction site at 1435 11th St. NW may seem like the many other luxury condo buildings currently or soon-to-be dotting the landscape in the District’s Logan Circle neighborhood.
But developers of the four-unit building are hoping to differentiate the project in what is becoming a cluttered market in a high-demand area by incorporating feng shui principles.
On a national scale, concepts in the ancient Chinese philosophy are becoming more mainstream, with retailers, office buildings and even Whole Foods, McDonald’s and Disneyland using them to help identify the optimal building location and design in an attempt to maximize health, wealth, harmony and happiness.
Feng shui, obviously, is an unusual philosophy that is not for everyone. Still, it is spreading into the residential market, becoming more popular with buyers and builders.
“I first became interested in feng shui from my colleagues while doing business in Asia,” said Wayne Carroll, president and chief executive of the Jason Corporation, which is developing the Logan Circle project. “All real estate developers in Hong Kong consult a feng shui master before building any structure.”
Construction of the Federal-style building will be complete by the end of the year. The building will offer one- and two-bedroom units in 1,000 square feet of space. At this early phase, finishes and appliances have not been selected and prices have not yet been set.
Pre-construction buyers have an opportunity now to participate in the selection of finishes for their individual units.
Unlike a standard building, a feng shui project is noted more for the elements it doesn’t have.
“A property on a corner that faces a four-way stop intersection is bad feng shui for anyone,” Carroll said. “A property located at a T-junction is bad feng shui for anyone. A property at a dead end is bad feng shui for anyone.”
Carroll relies on Macy Lu, a Bethesda-based doctor of Chinese medicine and a feng shui master, to guide him in selecting the best lots and buildings to purchase.
“The property at 1435 11th St. NW is very good,” Lu said. “There is nothing nearby that is causing any negative energy. This property is good for any buyer.”
Lu added that, when providing advice to a buyer about the viability of a property, she looks at the location of the lot in relation to the street, the electrical wiring nearby, the alley behind the building and the buildings surrounding the lot.
“The alley should have access to get in and to get out. There should be no nearby buildings with sharp edges facing the property,” she said.
To design the building, Carroll hired architect Alfred Liu, president of Washington-based AEPA Architects Engineers. Liu helped plan and design D.C.’s Chinatown Friendship Archway and the 153-unit residential Wah Luck House. Liu calls upon his knowledge of feng shui when designing a building.
In his designs, Liu considers the location of the staircase; the layout of bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen; the placement and proportions of the windows to maximize light; the height of the ceilings in proportion to the rooms; the placement of the front door; and the exterior facade.
“Every real estate transaction is like gambling,” Liu said. “When you buy, build and then sell, it can take two or three years. In that time, the market can shift. This has to do with your fate and luck. Fate and luck are bigger than feng shui. But feng shui can help those with bad fate or luck.”
Here are some general feng shui principles:
• Avoid a direct alignment of the front door with the back door. It is believed that your money will come in the house and easily escape through the back door.
• A house located at a T-junction is considered bad feng shui because the automobile energy “hits” the house in a sharp, aggressive way. The energy from cars is considered to be negative with pollutants.
• A master bedroom should not be situated above a garage, as cars let off pollutants and jeopardize good health. It also should not be located above a fireplace or stove.
• You should not see the toilet when opening the bathroom door, as your luck will be flushed. If you can see the toilet, keep the lid closed.
• A house sitting at a dead end has all the energy from the street pooling in front of it, which is believed to create more drama or hardship.
• The stairs should not be located directly inside the front door ascending straight upward.
• The home should not be located on a former battlefield, cemetery or chemical waste dump.
• Avoid an irregular shaped house.
• Avoid living near large power stations.
Despite incorporating the principles into the building design, developers say that buyers who follow feng shui likely would want their own consultant. The developers plan to provide an individual consultancy to buyers at no cost.
“You have a different feng shui requirement than me,” said Sam Lu, a sales representative. “ If I were to buy a unit, I would need to further consult the feng shui master to make the individual unit suitable for me… We’ll further harmonize everything. That’s what makes this an interesting development.”
Previous Jill Chodorov column:
Chodorov can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.