The 33,000-square-foot tan building with the tall columns across from Montrose Park in Georgetown spent nearly 100 years as an institution for blind people and then for foster children.
Soon it will reopen as a multi-family residence consisting of 15 luxury and moderately priced condominium units.
In the Washington area, the demand for new condo units is high — but the supply is low. According to data firm Delta Associates, sales of new units are at their highest level since 2010, when the federal government was offering its first-time buyer credit. But the pipeline of new product is low and not expected to significantly ramp up for a few years.
Indeed, three of the units in the new Montrose have been sold and 200 people are on a waiting list, even though they haven’t officially gone on the market, said a marketing official working for the development and architectural firms.
“There really is nothing in the market that combines a 100-year-old building with 2013 technology,” said Gilberto Cardenas, president of the Argos Group development firm.
“When you see the outside it looks like a 100-year-old building. But the moment you walk in, you feel like you’re in a brand-new building,” Cardenas added. “Plus, the location makes it unique.”
For nearly 75 years, the building at 3052 R St. NW was used as the Hurt Home for the Blind. From 1987 to about 2005, it was used as the Devereux Children’s Center, housing foster children.
Except for demolishing some additions, the exterior of the building was largely preserved during the renovation. But the interior was gutted, officials said.
“In the lobby and main entrance are stone flooring, fabric-wrapped panels and wood panels on the wall,” said Rachel Chung, studio director of Sorg Architects who helped design the building.
“We also have wood-panel ceilings with recessed … lights,” Chung added. “In the building corridors we have carpet flooring and we also have covered lighting and decorative sconces. The unit entry doors are natural finished walnut.”
The two- and three-bedroom units range from 1,300 to 2,500 square feet. Some are flats and others have two floors with an elevator. Prices for the market-rate units range from $969,900 to $2.6 million. Prices for the three affordable units will be set based on D.C. income guidelines.
Upgrades in the units include hardwood floors, Thermador appliances, granite countertops, custom cabinetry and limestone spa-style bathrooms with Waterworks fixtures.
The building has a garden. All the units have patios and two parking spaces. Many of the units have dens and views of the Washington Monument.
The three affordable units will not have the high-end appliances and finishes.
Still, “the features are similar on the affordable and market rate” units, Chung added. “The finishes we use [on the affordable units] are maintainable and green… The layout is very clean, modern and straight forward.”
Incorporating the building’s history, the architects are adding elements to the building — including multiple textures on the floors to better distinguish rooms and Braille signage — that will accommodate the blind and visually impaired.
Construction on the building will be completed in late August or early September, officials said.