One Nice Architectural Detail to the New DC USA Mall Coming to Columbia Heights

IMG_6269, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

As has been noted before, most of the new DC USA complex looks a little bit like it could be a cross between an insane asylum and a toilet paper factory from the Soviet Union circa 1976. But anyway, as I was walking down Irving St., (Dang I can’t remember the street but I think it was Irving) I noticed that there is one small facade that they have managed to preserve. So I think when the mall finally opens in March I will always enter through this entrance. Check out the contrast to the rest of the complex after the jump.  It doesn’t really seem to mesh that nicely.   What do you guys think, was it worth  it to preserve this one facade even if it clashes with the rest of the building?

17 Comment

  • I like it – too bad they didn’t preserve more of the history on the site. Apparently, there used to be an old market building and arcade, but it was torn down long ago. there is one new little splash of color on the 14th Street side as of this evening:

  • i lived in Mt Pleasant before they tore down the building this was attached to. I think it was originally a post office but was more recently used as an auto garage…it was quite beat up looking but the original building must have been historically significant. I am glad there are some historic preservatino requirements but it seems a little pointless if it is just going to get morphed into an otherwise modern building that doesn’t reflect the neighborhood at all. There are a lot of other buildings that do a much better job at blending in with the neighborhood.

  • I’m new to Columbia Heights and DC overall, but I couldn’t be more excited about yet another opportunity to burn money. I know alot of people are upset about gentrification and the big chain restaurants and retailers, but coming where I am come from, having a large grocery store like Giant in the city would be huge, let alone a target.

    The building isn’t the sexiest, although they are making quite the lobby section on the 14th side from what I saw a weekend or two ago.

  • Yep, my old post office used to be in there… I rented a PO box there because mail delivery was pretty unreliable (to a rowhouse basement apartment of dubious legal status) — that was 1989ish. By the time I moved back to DC, the building was ultra-gone.

  • Ah, IntangibleArts, was that the infamous post office where rats were allegedly eating the mail and piles of it were never delivered? I believe the original Trivial Pursuit had a question about that post office. Hee hee.

  • I’ve lived in Mt. P for a dozen years and used to use the old post office. My favorite feature was, rather than ropes and stanchions like most post offices, they had a line of the floor to follow almost is if the post master was making a comment on the clientèle.

  • This is among the stupidest historic preservation exercises ever. Saving this irrelevant pile of bricks meant that we spent 5 years breathing the historic lead paint as it peeled off the historic stack of concrete. It meant 5 years with a sidewalk shut down so that kids from the 3 schools on this block could jaywalk in front of speeding Marylanders. Of course, you paid for this by the extra subsidy that the project needed to pay for those structural scaffolding and the extra time needed to work around this little wall.

    But, the end result, is something that will I’m sure be visited by tourists and provide a reference so that grandparents can tell their grandkids about the great service that the post office provided there.

  • as an aside, this process is called “facadism.”

  • Ummm… this probably wasn’t done to preserve anything. Often developers don’t tear down facades that are out of code (by being too close to roads and adjoining property) so they can re-build in the same space. It’s a tricky way to get around setback issues.

  • I think this will be entrance to the Best Buy and whatever takes the place of the “Whole Foods” space. Sroll to the bottom of this page to see the preliminary floor plans (courtesy to Columbia Heights News for that one). It’ll be interesting to observe the traffic flow implications of adding 500,000 sq of retail space to such a busy corner.

  • My wife and I were comenting about this facade recently. It seems like there were archetectural details on it back a year ago, but now it is a smooth concrete face. Anyone notice this? Or know what and why it changed?

    P.S. I’m a big histrocial person, but I see little if any historical vaule to this tidbit they left

  • If it’s the old post office, yes, it’s the one that used to be on Irving Street, next to Hiatt Place, by the old Bell and Lincoln, since beautifully rebuilt. That used to be a particularly nasty little block back in the day and I bet I wouldn’t recognize it now.

  • IntangibleArtist, The DC mail service is still TERRIBLE! I have missed out on a couple of holiday cards this season & at least one birthday card this year. I shouldn’t have to rent a darn box to get my mail reliably! They’re paid to deliver it!!! 🙁

  • Mr.T: ah, the memories…and the rats….yes… I think those same rats came to hang out in my tiny basement kitchen after they ate all the mail in that post office…. all fat & happy, bloated with ValPak coupons and what-all…

    Avocado: totally agreed. And we’ve been in our current place well over a year and we’re still getting letters to the previous owners, and this is after they’ve done about 5 forwarding requests, both online and in person. ehh.

  • I grew up a few blocks from this site. It was, indeed, a Post Office but the car dealer, Jack Blank Pontiac, was further south on the block. They had this big sign with the old Pontiac “Indian” logo that was on the abandoned building for years. I wanted that sign for sure!

    Before the MLK riots in ’68 there was a Kay Jewelers on the northern corner of that block. If I recall correctly, there was also a mom-and-pop newstand between the PO and the Kay’s that sold candy, magazines, lottery “dream books”, and the specific brand of chewing tobacco my great-grandfather liked.

    40 years later I glad to see 14th Street finally becoming as vibrant as it was before those riots. If only the city would’ve brought back a movie theater to the area like back in the day when there were 2: the Tivoli and the Savoy…

  • Thanks guy.

    There’s a photo of the Safeway on 14th St taken 3 days before the riots that I found online- flickr? someplace…

    here it is, but ya gotta pay for it now. lame.

  • That was the post office I used to have to go to pick up packages; I liked going there much better than the bland one they make us go to now at 14th and T…

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