Pioneering pays off in condominiums near Petworth

February 13

When George Chopivsky, president of the Fortis Companies, looked at the buildings that would eventually become the Otis condominiums, his vision went beyond the damaged rooms that had been vacant for more than a decade.

“There’s no question that the buildings needed a lot of work, but they have great bones and I was excited to develop a building on the eastern edge of Columbia Heights,” says Chopivsky. “We were doing a little bit of pioneering, like developers who were buying into 14th Street a decade ago.”

The Otis condominiums are in three buildings at 809, 811 and 812 Otis Place NW, where the eastern Columbia Heights, Parkview and Petworth neighborhoods meet. Chopivsky points to the development along Georgia Avenue as the early stages of a building boom in the area; these changes include a new Safeway with 200 apartments above called the Swift. Residents of the Otis can walk to both the Petworth and Columbia Heights Metro stations and to restaurants and bars along 11th Street NW, designated by some as the District’s “Hip Strip” and including popular bars such as Meridian Pint and Room 11.

Affordable yet attractive: “Rents in the city are so expensive,” Chopivsky says. “I wanted to develop a building with great finishes that’s also affordable, so affordable that it’s cheaper to own than to rent.”

Five of the 23 units in the Otis are still available, each priced close to $300,000 for one bedroom and one bathroom.

Chopivsky says he designed the homes to cater to young professionals who want to use the Metro and ride bikes to nearby hot spots. He included a bike storage room inside each building.

Jessica Simpson, the first person to move into the Otis last November, had been renting in Columbia Heights with a roommate and hoped to be able to buy a place and live on her own.

“I didn’t think I wanted new construction because I wanted to do some work on a home, but I love the layout of the place and the finishes in the Otis,” Simpson says. “Even more important to me is the location.”

Simpson lived in Mount Pleasant before she moved to Columbia Heights, so being able to walk everywhere and yet being able to afford homeownership drew her to the Otis.

Art deco and modern styles: “We tried to restore as many of the art deco elements of the buildings as we could, especially on the outside,” Chopivsky says. “Inside, we used new materials that people find in high-end, Class A apartments.”

The building has a new roof and all-new plumbing, wiring and heating and air conditioning systems.

Each unit has hardwood flooring throughout the living areas and bedroom, closet organizers to maximize storage, a combination washer and dryer, European tiles and contemporary finishes in the bathrooms and an open kitchen with a Silestone countertop, stainless-steel appliances and a glass-tile backsplash.

Unit 206, with 646 square feet, has multiple tall windows in the open living and dining area and kitchen. The one-bedroom/one-bathroom unit is priced at $294,900.

Flat 4 on the lower level has 775 square feet, with a large walk-in closet in the bedroom, a large storage and coat closet in the hall, one bedroom and one bathroom. This unit, priced at $319,900, has an open living and dining area and kitchen, with a glass door to a private terrace.

All residents of buildings 809 and 811 have access to a shared garden with a dining table and a gas grill.

Living there: Otis Place borders Princeton Place on the north, Georgia Avenue on the east, New Hampshire Avenue on the west and Park Road on the south.

Base prices for the available units range from $294,900 to $332,900. Seventy-four percent of the Otis has been sold; with five of the original 23 homes still available.

Condominium association fees are $221.26 per month.

Schools: Raymond Education Campus for elementary and middle school, Columbia Heights Education Campus for middle school and Cardozo Education Campus for high school.

Transit: It’s three blocks to the Georgia Avenue/Petworth Metro station and a 10-minute walk to the Columbia Heights Metro station, both on the Green and Yellow lines. Bus lines along Georgia Avenue and New Hampshire Avenue, both within walking distance, include the 60, 63, 64, 70, 79 and H8 routes.

Michele Lerner is a freelance writer.

The Otis

809, 811 and 812 Otis Place NW, Washington

Base prices for the available units range from $294,900 to $332,900.

Builder: Fortis Companies

Features: The vintage art deco buildings have been renovated to accommodate 23 condominiums with such upgrades as hardwood flooring, closet organizers, stainless-steel appliances and European tiling. The Otis is in a community with easy access to transit as well as shops and eateries in the so-called “Hip Strip” of Columbia Heights.

Bedrooms/bathrooms: one/one

Square footage: 646 or 775

Homeowners association fees: $221.26 per month

View models: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays; noon to 4 p.m. on weekends.

Sales office: 202-303-3459 or www.theotisdc.com .

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