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Town Square | Rockville apartments get upscale makeover

(Courtesy of McInturff Architects)
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A new outdoor café and a new swimming pool and lounge are among the upgrades planned by architect Mark McInturff and interior designer Mary Lohre for the Crest at Congressional Plaza, a 146-unit apartment community in Rockville owned by Federal Realty Investment Trust.

Improvements to individual apartments, which are being renovated as leases expire, include new porcelain flooring, designer lighting, new bathrooms and in the kitchens stainless steel appliances, quartz counters, mosaic tile backsplashes and tile flooring. Some residents are opting to move from their current apartments into renovated units once they see the upscale finishes.

Exterior renovations are underway and are expected to be complete by the summer of 2014.

The Crest at Congressional Plaza is at Rockville Pike and Halpine Road. Rents range from $1,795 for a one-bedroom unit to $2,918 for a two-bedroom with a loft.

Building blocks for adults

If your favorite childhood toy was a set of wood blocks, you may be intrigued by the modular furniture known as “Zig” available from Cezign, a collaboration between European interior designer Cecilia Dupire and Costa Picadas, a photographer.

You can purchase the building blocks for your living room or bedroom (prices for individual pieces range from $260 to $910 and belts to hold blocks together are $65 to $85 each) and switch your interior design whenever you want.

The basic components include oak and glass solid rectangles and open frames, square and rectangular foam blocks covered in bright colored or neutral fabrics and belts to latch pieces together. You can make a sofa, a table, shelves and a bed from the pieces and then rearrange them whenever you feel creative.

A video demonstrates a six-second living room transformation. For now, the pieces are available only online, but the company plans to introduce them to retail stores soon.

Washington ranks high for walkability

If you’re a fan of WalkScore, which rates cities and neighborhoods based on their pedestrian-friendliness and proximity to public transportation, you also may like the new Walkability score by Maponics.

Like WalkScore, Maponics, a data analytics company that provides a variety of information by Zip code and neighborhood to real estate agents and consumers, offers a walkability rating that includes a wider range of factors to generate the score.

The District, rated 4.91 on a scale of 1 to 5, is fifth on the list of most walkable cities, behind New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Seattle. The three neighborhoods within the District that earn the highest walkability scores include Dupont Circle (5.00), Downtown-Chinatown-Penn Quarter (4.9) and Logan Circle-Shaw (4.9).

To develop each walkability score, Maponics’s algorithm takes into account factors such as the type of street, speed limits, intersection complexity, accessibility to points of interest (in other words, is it across a river or a freeway even though it’s close) population density, crime and even the weather.

The fastest markets

The District is ranked number five by Redfin among markets where houses sell the quickest.

According to Redfin’s latest Fastest Markets Report, 44.1 percent of homes in D.C. sold within two weeks of going on the market.

The top three fastest markets were in California. Denver (number 4) was the fastest market outside of California, followed by the District.

In June, the D.C. area had 215 flash sales (homes selling with 24 hours of being listed) and had just 1.9 months of supply, below the national average of three months. A balanced housing market typically has six months of supply.

Lerner is a freelance writer. To pass on a tip or news item, contact us at and put “Town Square” in the subject line.