A multitude of stories about the housing market in the District have told tales of woe, particularly for first-time buyers trying to find a place in a neighborhood they love.
Some of those stories end in triumph after facing bidding wars and long searches for an affordable home. But in the case of Katie Harris and her fiance, Adam Reza, both 26, their success story ended with decidedly less stress and drama.
“We’ve rented in Bloomingdale for the past two years, and we knew we wanted to move when our lease was up but stay in the neighborhood,” says Harris. “We hadn’t started to visit rentals or condos, but I have been looking online to learn about the real estate market.”
Harris found Beale House, a new condo under development by Miller at 129 W St. NW, while walking the couple’s dog around the corner from their current home.
“The place was still a shell, but we liked the renderings, the price was right and we loved the modern look,” says Harris.
A week later, the couple had their condo under contract.
Beale House, an apartment house built in 1926, has been converted into 16 condos by Miller with the help of Cunningham Quill Architects. Miller converted two adjacent apartments into condos known as McGill Row several years ago.
“These buildings are unusual in the Bloomingdale neighborhood, where most of the homes are Victorian-style two- or three-level rowhouses,” says Charles Struse, a project executive with Miller in Bethesda. “We were able to save the traditional masonry exterior and details on the outside of the building. The homes on the second, third and fourth floors all have roofline views of the nearby rowhouses that were built in the 1920s and 1930s, a lot of them with faux turrets.”
Struse says there are four homes on each level, each with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a view of the courtyard or the neighborhood.
“We were able to keep the floor structure, but everything else is completely new,” says Struse. “The homes on the top three floors each have Juliet balconies with sliding glass doors for extra light and fresh air.”
Compact but efficient: Beale House includes 15 two-bedroom, two-bath residences and one one-bedroom unit which is already under contract. The two-bedroom residences have 755 to 855 square feet, and the remaining units, all on the upper levels, are priced from $469,900 to $550,000.
“We know there’s a lot of demand for two-bedroom homes, so our biggest challenge was getting two bedrooms and two full baths into a compact but well-thought-out space,” says Struse. “We saved some square footage in the top three floors by putting the heating and air-conditioning handler in the ceiling above the secondary bathroom instead of in a closet.”
The model, Unit 201, has an open floor plan with a living and dining area off the kitchen. The larger bedroom has three closets and a full bath, while the second bedroom has one closet and private access to a full bath that’s also accessible from the hall. The residence also has a coat closet and a closet with a washer and dryer.
To maximize the living space, the kitchen in each unit is set into a wall with built-in appliances for a high-end look, says Struse. A dark gray painted wall wraps around the sides and top of the kitchen to enclose it and give it a seamless look. The appliances include a stainless-steel electric oven with a gas range on top, and both the refrigerator and dishwasher have cabinetry panels to blend in with the surrounding cabinets.
“We decided not to put in a fixed island because that can’t be moved when you’re entertaining and need more space,” says Struse. “Residents can put in a freestanding island or a bar-height table if they want, which would give them more flexibility.”
A less noticeable feature is that each kitchen is fully externally vented, which reduces kitchen odors.
Building amenities include bike storage and a landscaped courtyard for residents. No parking comes with the residences, but Struse says street parking is ample in the neighborhood.
What’s nearby: The Bloomingdale neighborhood in Northwest, bordered by North Capitol Street, Florida Avenue, Second Street and Channing Place, is known for its quaint Victorian-style homes and its relatively new bars and restaurants.
“Bloomingdale is very residential, but we can walk to everything, including our favorite bars and restaurants in the neighborhood like Boundary Stone and El Camino,” says Harris. “We can walk to U Street and 14th Street and even to Chinatown if we’re feeling ambitious.”
Other local favorite cafes and restaurants include the Big Bear Cafe, The Pub and the People, Rustik Tavern, Thai X-Ing, Aroi and the Red Hen.
Schools: Langley Elementary, McKinley Middle and Dunbar High
Transit: The development is less than a mile to the Shaw Metro station for the Green and Yellow Lines; it is also within walking distance to the U Street Metro station. Nearby bus routes include G2, G8, 70, 80, 90, 92, 93, 96, X3, H1, H2, H3 and H4.
129 W St. NW, Washington
The nine available condo units are priced from $469,900 to $550,000.
Features: The two-bedroom, two-bath condos have hardwood flooring, glass doors to a Juliet balcony on the three upper levels, modern light fixtures, energy-efficient windows, a washer and dryer, oversize Italian tiles in the bathrooms and sleek built-in kitchens with stone countertops and high-end appliances.
Square footage: 755 to 855 square feet
Condominium association fees: $334 to $374 per month
View models: Open by appointment
Contact: Steve Swank, a senior sales manager with Urban Pace, at 202-315-5428 or visit www.liveatbeale.com/index.html.