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Million-Dollar Condos, With a Soup Kitchen Below

The church's Meg Maguire says the plan lets the congregation put its land to use for the public good.
The church's Meg Maguire says the plan lets the congregation put its land to use for the public good. (By Andrea Bruce -- The Washington Post)
By Paul Schwartzman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Urban hipsters have shown a knack for dropping up to $1 million for condos in the heart of the District.

But will they spend that much to live over a church that feeds the homeless?

PN Hoffman, purveyor of high-style living, is betting they will.

The development company envisions 140 condominiums at 10th and G streets NW, where one of Washington's oldest churches has existed since abolitionists founded it at the end of the Civil War.

Only First Congregational Church of Christ isn't going anywhere.

As part of the deal, the developer will build a new sanctuary for the church, with eight floors of apartments above, along with balconies, a swimming pool and a fitness center.

When the new building opens, the church will occupy the first two floors and continue serving breakfast and dinner daily to several hundred homeless people. They will come and go through an entrance around the corner from the one used by the condo owners.

One-bedroom apartments would sell for between $400,000 and $500,000, while two bedrooms with a den would go for about $1 million, said David DeSantis, PN Hoffman's vice president of sales and marketing.

DeSantis said the company is well aware that some home buyers may blanch at the prospect of living above a homeless service center. But he said the developer expects to attract buyers who "are fully aware of the urban lifestyle" and will "appreciate the building and the neighborhood for what it is."

"I don't think I'm going to have any problem finding 140 families who want to call this building home," DeSantis said.

Charles Klein, a managing broker in the District for the real estate firm Re/Max, said buyers will be interested if the "units are a knockout" and because they're downtown.

But Klein said so many condos are on the market that buyers have many choices. More than 18,000 condominium units are under construction, planned or proposed, according to the Washington DC Economic Partnership.

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