With Rhodes Tavern now only a memory, the Oliver T. Carr Co. plans to start construction late this year on a $35-million office building at 15th and F streets NW that will to some degree complement the adjoining Beaux Arts facade of the already completed portion of the Metropolitan Square complex..
Art Hanket, Carr's project manager, described the project as a "magnificent architectural addition to the White House sector."
Five years ago, Carol Thompson, a D.C. official who conducted hearings about the proposal, called it a "project of special merit," one that provided "significant benefits to the District of Columbia."
The new addition, connected by a glass-covered atrium to the completed portion, will be substantially smaller than the existing $70-million building that encompasses most of the block bounded by 14th, 15th, F and G streets.
While fighting for years to knock down Rhodes Tavern, the Carr Co., one of the city's largest developers, agreed to save the early 20th Century Beaux Arts facades of the Keith Albee Building along 15th and G streets and that of the old Metropolitan National Bank Building along 15th.
As a result, in a design developed by the architectural firms of Vlastimil Koubek and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the first portion of the Metropolitan Square complex now has an old-new look.
There are ornate columns, stone carvings beneath windows and a mansard roof on part of the building facing 15th and G streets. But there is a more typical, boxier look above the old mansard roof and along parts of G and 14th streets.
The new marble and limestone structure, which is expected to be completed about two years from now, will also have a mansard roof and its windows will be aligned with those on the existing building, according to an architect's rendering.
But the ornate stone carvings on the facade of the completed portion will not be replicated.
The new building will be eight stories tall on the 15th Street side and for 46 feet along F Street. But the remainder of the structure along F Street, extending to Garfinckel's department store, will be 12 stories tall.
The completed portion of Metropolitan Square has 386,523 square feet of office space, almost all of it rented.
The new portion will have 160,894 square feet of office space. Several stores have opened at the street level of the completed portion, as well as the new version of the Old Ebbitt Grill restaurant, previously located along F Street near the now demolished Rhodes Tavern.
Aside from the protracted dispute over Rhodes Tavern, Metropolitan Square also drew the attention of the Secret Service, which claimed the building posed a security threat.
There is a nearly unobstructed view of the North Portico of the White House from atop the 12-story portion of the complex.
But the problem was solved when the Carr Co. agreed to permit Secret Service agents to stake out positions on the rooftop during special White House events and to oversee company security system at Metropolitan Square.