Great Before and After Photos of the 14th Street Corridor

view14 before2

Ever since posting the before and after photos from Columbia Heights I love the seeing other before and after shots. At the Urban Land Institute lecture, I mentioned earlier, there was a discussion on the past and future of U Street. There was a discussion with

• Jair Lynch, President & CEO, Jair Lynch Development Partners (Moderator)
• Paul Robertson, President, Robertson Development
• David Franco, Principal, Level 2 Development
• Josh Dix, Vice President, PN Hoffman

They mostly talked about the projects they had worked on in the area. It was very interesting but what I found most fascinating was the before and after photos which they were kind enough to share with me. One more item of note though, was that when asked what they saw the future looking like, they mentioned that they expected development to continue up 14th Street to Columbia Heights. They also mentioned that construction at the old Nehemiah Shopping Center site is slated to begin in the Fall of 2010.

So, above you can find what the current View 14 space looked like. Below is what it looks like now:

view14 after

After the jump you can see before and after photos from Solea across the street from View 14 at the corner of 14th and Florida. Also after the jump you can see a before and after photo of Union Row at 14th and W.

solea before

Above is where the Solea now sits in the 70s. The building was demolished shortly after that photo was taken and it was a parking lot for many years afterwards. Here’s what it looks like now:


Below you can see what the Union Row building looked like:

Union row before

And here’s what it looks like now:

union row

The changes are unbelievable!

34 Comment

  • OK, this is exactly what I’ve been talking about on the View 14 post. Take a look at what they torn down to put in a parking lot (the Solea pictures)! A gorgeous stone turret house (I’m no architect, so I have no idea what you call that style) made way for a concrete slab, no doubt all in the name of higher profits per square foot.

    I can see that the building needed a lot of work, maybe an overhaul, hard to tell. But guess what: Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good! The best we can hope for after that is somethign like the Solea or maybe another CVS.

  • Yeah the building at the Solea spot was sweet…but wow, I’m glad all of that stuff is gone from the View14 site!

  • yeah, I guess anything’s better than a satellite dish graveyard!

  • Ditto TaylorStreet. It’s all about the economics, which sucks. Unless they’re protected – historical site, etc – developers can pretty much do what they want with them.

  • Uh, guys that “beautiful building” was a parking lot for almost 40 years. The Solea replaced a parking lot.

  • saf

    I miss my mechanics. They were in that top building. Now I have to drive out to NE to get my car fixed.

  • TSM: It’s not the developer of Solea’s fault that some moron tore those places down and put in a parking lot back in the 70s.

    The urban planning today is light years from what it once was. I’m happy with the direction we are taking now, especially in an area so conducive to high density living (two metro stops, several bus lines, mixed-use development and walkability).

  • By the way, PoP, the earlier Neimiah post left some confusion about the redevelopment. Any idea what we can expect in its place?

  • memories… sweet memories… I used to live on 15th and New Hampshire (before any of this new development sprung up.) Every time I drive by I get to see what was able to slowly price me out of my sweet (and large) studio apartment.

  • @Los Politico:
    Yes. I know. I said that. Read. My. Post.
    “A gorgeous stone turret house made way for a concrete slab, no doubt all in the name of higher profits per square foot.”

    My point was that developers often value only what they can hold in their hands, namely: Money.

    Sure, the Solea is an improvement over a parking lot, but shouldn’t the bar be higher? How about some more *thoughtful* development. Enough with the aluminum and glass boxes. Try something that is in character with the historical fabric of the city, or even something reminiscent of what was there until the 70s.

  • I guess your strawman “they” was hard to interpret. It’s not my fault you don’t use pronouns correctly.

    And I disagree that development should be “in character with the historical fabric of the city.” That is just code for “only people with my sensibilities should live here.” I think that’s wrong no matter who you are trying to keep out.

    Zoning laws should (and DC’s do) provide a framework for what kind of building should be there, and ideally layout where you should have mixed use building, street facing store fronts, and the like. Zoning laws should not (and DC’s do not) dictate the architectural flavor of the building.

  • Another great way to see the development is with Google Earth and its “time slider” (the icon looks like a clock, which then enables a time slider). With this you can see satellite images from 1988 to the present. You can see the old structures, their demolition and the construction of the Bell School campus and DCUSA

  • @Los Politico 3:55
    “Take a look at what they torn down to put in a parking lot.”
    What part of that sentence is confusing? “They” refers to the people who torn down the building to pave the lot for parking. Maybe I AM using the pronoun incorrectly (don’t think so), but couldn’t you piece it together? I’ll try to keep my posts simpler for you. K?

    Let’s just build everything out of old cinder block chunks then, I guess. As long as it has retail on the ground floor and some kind of view from the roof deck.

    While we’re at it, let’s paint over all the murals in DC and put up billboards in their place. That’s a much more economically viable use for the space and it doesn’t dictate any kind of flavor at all.

  • @Sam. You rock. I’ll definitely be checking that out.

  • Well, the billboards would be against zoning laws, so that argument doesn’t hold water. Not that I could tell much difference from a mural promoting McDonald’s and a billboard promoting McDonald’s.

    I think the cinder block is ugly, too (and for the record the finishes in View 14 are cheap as they come– hollow doors and lamanate flooring that just looks like wood) but I don’t see a way to regualate that as building code stands now. I think at best you could incorporate a code that would require cinder block to be covered with stucco. So I suppose you will be running for ANC and then city council to do something about it, yes?

  • “So I suppose you will be running for ANC and then city council to do something about it, yes?”

    I don’t have the brains for that. I’m sure you’d agree. I’m just a loud mouth with a computer.
    But, I do think the community has a lot to say about these matters (or at least should). Just look how long Apple has been trying to get one of their stores into Georgetown. It’s been held up forever because of such abstract concerns such as how it would “fit in” and how it would look.

    There’s much more than just adequate parking, height restrictions, and the letter of the law (ie, building codes) to take into account.

  • As much as I love stone, turreted buildings, the idea that some owner was going to let an abandoned, unrenovated building sit empty for 25 years because he knew that someday yuppies would pay a half-million dollars for granite countertops is a little unrealistic.

    Would have made a great shooting gallery/crackhouse for a lot of years, though.

  • We enjoy before-and-after photos. More, please!

  • @TSM:
    I think your Georgetown Apple store point is an example of why many people do NOT want zoning laws to dictate architectural styles and fight against having their properties designated as historic. When neighborhoods demand new development “fit in” with existing structures or use existing structures in ways that conflict with economic realities, you don’t get new development combined with traditional neighborhood feel, you get empty lots for 40 years and giant abandoned industrial buildings.

  • Ah, the trusty folks at Petrovich’s auto repair. There’s no place for a good mechanic in a world of crepes and wine bars and $3 organic tomatoes.

  • re: Apple in Georgetwon:

    The Old Georgetown Act (Public Law 81-808) was passed on 22 September 1950. The Act defined the boundaries of Georgetown, and officially designated the area a historic district. The Old Georgetown Act also gave the Commission of Fine Arts the authority to appoint an advisory committee, the Old Georgetown Board, to conduct design reviews of semipublic and private structures within Georgetown’s boundaries. The Board is comprised of three architects who serve without compensation for three-year terms. Their recommendations for concept and permit applications are compiled into the Old Georgetown Appendix and forwarded to the Commission of Fine Arts for final approval.

    Have fun getting that act of Congress so you can tell people what kind of material their windows can be made out of. That’s a real good way to keep economic diversity in an area too.

  • Jimmy D-

    Greater Greater Washington has a post up about what’s happening to the old Nehemiah Shopping Center –

  • @Irving Streete – hahah, true

    I also miss the mechanics at the 14view spot. They were damn good. What were they called?? I think they moved somewhere.. I recently caught my current mechanics making up bullshit about a ball joint replacement.. grr..

    Wonderful that they were ousted by yet another of those bird-cage-meshed-with-beige-stone #@(&#$*@& things that will remain another hallmark of what a crappy decade this was all in all.

  • @ u street girl – it should be noted that the GGW post is primarily about a proposed building *next to* the old Nehemiah spot, although there is a blurb about the latter.

  • Eli and u street girl: It should also be noted that the empty apartment building next to the proposed building site on Chapin has seen workman in the past week replace the roof and remove debris from the interior… as if preparing for some bigger rehab.

  • Urban planning was an utter and complete disaster in almost every major city from the 1950’s into the 1980’s, and D.C. was no exception. There is zero relationship between the urban planning stupidity of those decades: building the hideous crime-magnet housing projects we are still stuck with in CH today, tearing out huge swaths of gorgeous historic buildings, leveling entire entertainment districts (Hyde Park, Chicago) or even entire neighborhoods (old west end, Boston) for “public” use like gov’t buildings, highways, or just to get rid of purported nuisance, etc. etc. What is happening now around metros is what SHOULD happen. High density development near public transit, retail and entertainment hubs, alternatives to vehicular ownership / infrastructure, etc. By any reasonable measure, an auto mechanic shop is just not making the best use of precsious space near a metro — a low density, space intensive business that REQUIRES by definition driving to get to is the LAST thing you want within a five minute walk of a metro stop. D.C. has finally, decades late, and years after other cities like Boston, Chicago, and NYC, gotten, and is doing what it can to overcome the disastrous planning of a different era. Penalizing city gov’t or developers now for the sins of the past makes no sense. But we can learn from them by preserving what historic structures remain and engaging in smart growth.

  • Good, I’m glad we are all in agreement that tearing down the facade of the Nehemiah Shopping Center was a travesty that shall not be repeated in the future.

    Old stuff can be ugly too.

  • How does Alexandria, VA manage to put up new buildings and protect the architectural character of their city instead of destroying it?

  • saf

    Carn – the Petrovich brothers retired. However, the mechanics spun off and are on 18th Place NE now – look up GTS auto. Tony and Carlos are still fixing cars, and are still honest and affordable.

  • What new buildings are you thinking of in Alexandria? I wouldn’t say Potomac Yards (I know, its South Arlington not Alexandria, but I don’t know what else you’re talking about) has any “architectual character” to it even if it is not all glass. And the few places that were built in the latter part of this decade near the Alexandria federal court houses just look like early 90s Ballston to me. No architectual character to speak. And there are tons of high end glass condo buildings in Rosslyn that are this same type of new construction. But in DC, while you do have all these new glass condos, you also have new developments like the EYA one in Navy Yard that keeps a very “traditional” feel. I think it all depends on what the builder wants to build (i.e., what the builder thinks will sell), not anything to do with the policies of one jurisdiction or another.

  • The Solea “Before” picture is almost identical to a building under renovation on 14th between N and Rhode Island. It’s going to be a Subway sandwich shop.

  • @ u street girl – thanks for the link. GGW then links to Washington Buz Journal, which has a little more detail about the Nehemiah project.

  • It would be lovely if old buildings lasted forever, but they don’t. They deteriorate and fall apart even with solid and consistent maintenance and repairs.

    And those brownstones on the now-Solea lot replaced something else that went before them, so they are no more victims than the new Solea building is.

    It is fun to see ‘before and after’ pictures though. Sometimes it is easy to forget how things used to be.

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