In Georgetown, where housing prices have been astronomical for a quarter of a century, ground will be broken this summer for the start of a community of 153 elegant new town houses priced from $330,000 to $485,000.
Called the Cloisters and sited on 8.2 undeveloped acres at Reservoir Road and 35th Street NW, the attached brick dwellings will be built by the Donohoe Construction Co. in Georgian and federal styles created by Alan Lockman & Associates.
Plans for development of the Cloisters' site were approved by the area's neighborhood commission, the Fine Arts Commission and its Old Georgetown board -- in addition to qualifying for District building permits.
The site was purchased last year by Donohoe for $4,875,000 from the nearby Georgetown Visitation Convent, which had used the tract adjacent to its 180-year-old preparatory school for athletics and recreation.
Cloisters sales director Patrick Rupertus said that research indicated that the convent school site was part of the Henry Threlkeld estate, one of Georgetown's largest in the latter part of the 18th century.
Subject to R-3 zoning, the Cloisters town houses will be built flush to the street, forming inner courtyards with separate gardens and shared, tree-lined spaces for parking. The tract will remain about 40 percent open.
Houses in the Cloisters will have from 2,400 to 3,000 square feet of finished space on three or four levels. Each will be 20 to 25 feet wide and 40 feet deep. The houses will have an elevator, marble foyer, whirlpool bath, two to four bedrooms and up to four fireplaces and five bathrooms.
Although nine different models are being presold from detailed floor plans, Rupertus said that John F. Donohoe & Son, Realtors, which is handling sales under his direction, does not have plans to furnish any of the 153 town houses as a model. So far, four reservations for sales have been taken on the basis of 5 percent of the gross price.
"Options have been held to a minimum -- such as two-car garages and finished basements in the three-level houses," Rupertus said. "However, if a buyer wants to delete a standard item such as the whirlpool bath or a fireplace, a credit will be given."
The sales office for the Cloisters, located at 3608 Reservoir Rd. NW in a remodeled 50-year-old house formerly occupied by the Georgetown Visitation caretaker, has detailed floor plans and samples of products to be used in the Cloisters houses.
In addition to the Donohoe companies -- a home-grown conglomerate involved in construction, development and real estate operations for more than a century -- the family of Charles A. Camalier Jr. and John E. Baker have also invested in development of the Cloisters.
Meanwhile the former Hillandale estate also is undergoing development by a Texas-based firm, and the former Rockefeller estate on Foxhall Road NW is being developed with more than a hundred large, clustered single houses. Both projects are aimed at a high price range. Some of the largest units in the Flour Mill condominium apartment on the Georgetown waterfront also are priced over $300,000.
Obviously, the Georgetown residential market capacity to absorb hundreds of expensive new dwellings will be getting an unprecedented test in the 1980s. Condo Democracy
Resident-owners in the Rotonda, the 1,168-unit condominium high-rise complex at Tysons Corner, are now administering their own $2 million budget that includes operation of all the amenities such as pools and common facilities.
Recently 378 Rotonda residents turned out to elect their first all-owner board of directors at a polling station set up in the nearby Westpark Hotel. Approximately 918 of the apartments in four buildings already have owners. The fifth building will be completed in August, when the purchasers in the sold-out complex will take possession.
Gloria Hawkes, a resident who was chairman of the Rotonda organizational study commission, was one of nine persons elected to the Rotonda Condominium Unit Owners Association. She then was elected president by the eight other directors: Jimmie Buckles, treasurer; Richard Fortune, secretary; Richard Nolan, vice president, and Melville Snaderson, Stanley Siegel, David Hepburn, Gerry Ivie and Harry Sonnemann. The length of terms vary from one to two and three years.
Hawkes said at the election meeting that she and her husband are having their first experience in condominium living and that her involvement in the study commission and other Rotonda activities has proved to be almost a full-time occupation. She also pointed out that the warranty responsibility of the developer, Rotonda Associates ( a subsidiary of International Developers Inc.) continues 22 months beyond the basic two-year warranty period after the completion of each individual building.
Because of the size of the budget and the large number of apartments, the operation of the Rotonda condominium association represents a major responsibility for elected board members and officers. In addition to setting up committees and activities for the residents, the board also deals with the professional management (in this case, the Polinger Co.) of the building and with the developer.
Monthly condo fees are based on the size of apartments and an average payment is about $157.
In a report to the owners, the study group focused on some of the problems of the condo association, a microcosm of democratic government on the local level. A survey of owners showed that 86 percent responded that living at the Rotonda was as good as or better than they had expected. Most of them also said they plan to live there indefinitely.
Concerning the required public offering statement given to prospective purchasers, the majority response was it was "understandable with effort."
The ownership profile showed most households headed by couples without children or single adults. More than half are in the 45-to-64 age bracket and 65 percent are employed. Approximately 25 percent have incomes exceeding $50,000.
In regard to complaints, the report stressed that major dissatisfactions concerned vandalism, pets, construction and traffic. "The most common complaint about construction dealt with noise and sound-proofing between units," the report said, adding that some of these complaints might be explained by "lack of experience in multifamily living."
The pet problem was highlighted by the fact that 48 percent of those responding favor limiting the pet population to those already in residence in June 1980. That is an example of the kind of problems with which the new commission will grapple on a day-to-day basis.
Developer Giuseppe Cecchi, whose firm built the Rotonda, was among those on hand for the recent election. He spoke briefly and got an ovation from the nearly 400 persons at the election meeting. His IDI firm currently is planning an early start on a new four-building luxury high-rise, the Montebello, which will be built on a 35-acre tract south of the Beltway on Rte. 1 near the Huntington Metro station in south Alexandria. Winston Mews
Amont the renovations and new residential construction seen on 16th Street NW., north of N Street and south of Florida Avenue, is Winston Mews. It is a low-rise, 16-unit red brick condominium with two-story units at 1730-32 16th St. The developers are Realtors Richard O. Haase and Vicki Bagley and investor Paul Greenstein.
GMR Associates designed the building that is being constructed by Blake Construction on a vacant site zoned R-5-C for low-rise apartments. Haase said that the apartments will have two bedrooms and two baths with an average of slightly more than 1,000 square feet of living area. Prices are expected to begin at $125,000.
"There was some design criticism from the Joint Committee on Landmarks and the neighborhood advisory commission in the beginning," said Haase. "So we came up with an improved plan in terms of the exterior styling and we think we'll have a better building as a result of the outside input. A model apartment is expected to be ready in September."
SHORTLY -- A sign of the mortgage times is the "for sale" sign on a house on Seven Locks Road in Bethesda. A separate, hand-lettered board notes that a VA loan of $99,000 is assumable at a 9 1/2 percent rate . . . A recent report on D.C. transfers from Rufus S. Lusk & Son shows that the volume of residential transfers declined nearly 40 percent in the first quarter of this year but the average residential sale price increased 9 percent to $97,420 as compared to prices in that period in 1979 . . . At a recent testimonial dinner given by the National Housing Conference for veteran mortgage banker George DeFranceaux, the chairman of the National Housing Partnership insisted that he is not retiring. The vigor with which he described his hyperactive career in real estate here substantiated his position, according to some of the 600 persons who attended and applauded his remarks . . . Washington Realtor William C. Smith is renovating a 37-story downtown Baltimore building, the St. Paul, that has 63,000 square feet of office space and 236 apartments. He bought it last year from the Donohoe Companies . . . Realtor Joseph E. Robert Jr., whose father is his senior partner, is still passing out cigars on the birth of Joseph E. Robert III.