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Event to explore alley development in D.C.’s Columbia Heights

On Nov. 11, D.C. residents can explore through a walking tour how to maximize use of alleys in Columbia Heights as livable and social spaces. (Shuran Huang for The Washington Post)

D.C. has several high-profile alleys, including Blagden Alley in Shaw, home to bars, restaurants and art galleries; and Cady’s Alley in Georgetown, which features cafes and high-end furniture stores.

On Nov. 11, D.C. residents can explore through a self-guided walking tour how community leaders are trying to maximize use of alleys in Columbia Heights as livable and social spaces.

EL Studio architecture firm and the DC Preservation League will host the fifth Alley Hop as part of their effort to trace the forces that govern the development of alleys and alley buildings in Columbia Heights, including zoning setbacks, height limits, utility access, storm water management, use restrictions and parking needs. The event will take place from 2 to 4 p.m.

Capitalizing on D.C.’s alleys in the real estate picture

The Washington Alley Project provides opportunities for D.C. residents to see how alleys in the city can be adapted without sacrificing the city’s architectural heritage. There are more than 82,000 single-family homes with alley frontage in D.C., according to the project, co-founded by Mark Lawrence and Elizabeth Emerson, principals and co-founders of EL Studio.

The project estimates that if each of the residential properties with alley frontage added alley housing, such as an accessory dwelling unit, it would generate housing for another 187,900 people.

The event will start at a future alley dwelling at 775 Fairmont St. NW in the alley between Girard and Fairmont streets, accessed from Sherman Avenue NW. Participants will be given maps and 3-D viewfinders and will be guided by wayfinding graphics on walls and sidewalks.

At designated spots, they will look through the viewfinders and see the space where they’re standing with new features, such as a raised platform to sit on, a basketball court surrounded by wall murals, decorative sculptures, and a performance stage and seating banquette.

Participants can arrive anytime between 2 and 3:30 p.m. for the self-guided tour. Registration is free through the DC Preservation League by clicking here.

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