One of the funny things about the District is that it only recently became the heart of a very big city. For this reason, neighborhoods in Washington change over very rapidly from mixed-use high rises, to single-family attached housing, to suburban style detached homes on big yards. In the space of two miles you go from Manhattan to Westchester County, more or less. This is one reason development battles tend to be ugly in the District. Planners are trying to upzone what should be very urban land, but which is surrounded by what looks and feels like suburbia. Of course, some places feel more like suburbia than others:
As work proceeds on 46 custom homes in the Palisades, at least some new home buyers are paying nearly $2m for a development of custom-built, embassy-sized homes in Northwest Washington DC. The Phillips Park development – overseen by international businessmen William Pryor and Felipe Paraud – will be delivering 46 “estate homes” with sprawling 9,000 to 17,000 square foot lots near the intersection of Foxhall Road and W Street, NW over the course of the next year.
Proof positive that not everyone is suffering, twenty-two of the available lots are already under contract, according to the real estate agent representing the project, Long and Foster’s Susie Maguire. The custom-built homes themselves will measure in at 4,500 to 9,000 s.f. and sport designs from variety of architectural firms, including Barnes Vanze, David Jones, Muse and Neumann Lewis Buchanan. Priced from $1.5m, the homes began sales a little more than two years ago…
It’s worth heading over to Google Maps to have a look at the intersection of Foxhall and W. It’s less than three miles from the heart of K Street and less than two from the high rises of Rosslyn, and yet it looks like something transplanted from Loudoun County, some 20 miles to the west. Now I realize that adding significant new density in this area is impossible — attempts to do so would touch off the NIMBY battle to end all NIMBY battles — but are 17,000 square foot lots really necessary? I tell you, I am frustrated to no end by Brooklanders fighting against density, but things like this almost make me empathize with them. While the city is telling folks around my neighborhood that new density is necessary to grow the tax base and accommodate growth — and I agree — it’s willing to tolerate 17,000 square foot estates across town. That’s very difficult to understand.