Work will soon begin to convert the Iowa Apartments, a 1900 Beaux Arts building south of Logan Circle that has been vacant for 12 years, into condominium units.

The groundbreaking for the project at 1325 13th St. will be held next Saturday morning. Top city officials and James Biddle, the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation will be there to give a ceremonial assist to the developers, David Clark & Associates Inc., on the 95-unit project.

The Iowa building was designed by T.F. Schneider, a Washington architect who also designed the Cairo Hotel, Washington's tallest, privately owned building.

The redeveloped Iowa structure will have 42 one and two-bedroom condominium units. There will also be 53 new rowhouses clustered around a landscaped parking deck in the rear.

Spokesman Samuel Brannon said the firm and its architects, Sutton and Campbell and Paul Devereux, are taking a cautious approach to the restoration. The front of the building will not be sandblasted but will be cleaned with water.

"It won't look as new as it would with other cleaning methods," said Brannon, "but there will be no damage to the building."

The old windows will be replaced with double-pane insulated glass in anodized aluminum frames but the style and color will be the same as the original.

Little was left of the original interior, because vandals had stripped it, Brannon said. Some Victorian elements will be added, even though each unit will be equipped with modern fixtures and appliances.

"We are considering high-tank, pull-chain toilets," said Brannon, "but lots of people are saying they grew up with them and aren't quite sure what it would be like going back."

The developers said they have worked closely with the community and preservation groups in planning the project.