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Columbia Heights – Highland Park Building Going from Condo to Rental! Plus lots of new dining option announced.

You just can’t force the market… But very interesting news on the restaurant front. This location is at 14th and Irving right above the Columbia Heights Metro on the southwest corner. From the press release we can look forward to:

Hank’s Oyster Bar founder Jamie Leeds plans a fine-dining restaurant with an eclectic but accessible and affordable menu. Hank’s was nominated for “Best New Restaurant” in 2006 and “Best Neighborhood Restaurant” in 2007 by The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries, started in 1986 just a few miles away in Arlington, since expanded into a franchise operation covering 16 states and the District of Columbia. Nothing but great burgers and fries; voted Washingtonian magazine’s “#1 Burger” seven years in a row.

Pete’s Apizza, bringing New Haven-style “apizza” to Washington, in addition to fresh pastas, panini, soups, antipasto, salads and gelato, as well as a selection of domestic and Italian wines and beers. Fast casual service model, contemporary Tuscan-inspired décor
Potbelly Sandwich Works, offering sandwiches made to order, salads, soups, smoothies and various sweets; a popular casual dining destination with over 150 stores in the mid-Atlantic and Midwest.
Zinnia, a locally owned sit-down restaurant serving an exotic menu of Caribbean foods and drinks, tapas-style, in a comfortable lounge environment. Open from breakfast time through late evening cocktails; dine-in, take-out or delivery.

I am unbelievably excited about this, lots more discussion to come next week. Full press release after the jump.


Washington DC, 15 November 2007. Donatelli Development and Gragg and Associates announced today they will convert their Highland Park building, nearing completion at the southwest corner of 14th and Irving streets in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Northwest Washington, from condominium to rental.
In addition, the company announced it has reached agreements with six retailers, including five restaurants, to take space in the retail portion of the development.

Highland Park is a mixed-use development with 229 residential units, 20,000 square feet of retail, and three levels of underground parking. It is located directly atop the western entrance to the Columbia Heights metro, and across the street from Donatelli Development’s other building in the neighborhood, the Kenyon Square condominium, which opened earlier this summer.

Retail: A Rapidly Developing Restaurant Culture in Columbia Heights

Donatelli Development has reached agreements for six retail spaces at Highland Park, including five restaurants and Signal Financial Federal Credit Union. Discussions are under way with other businesses, including a sushi restaurant, for the two other retail spaces in the development.

The five confirmed restaurants, joining two full-service sit-down restaurants, a Starbuck’s coffee store and a fine wine and beer retailer across the street at Kenyon Square, comprise an emerging restaurant row in Columbia Heights, with a wonderful variety of cuisines and atmospheres.

In selecting the restaurants for Highland Park, Donatelli has been striking a delicate balance between full-service and fast casual, understanding the neighborhood’s rapidly changing needs, with a denser residential character still taking shape and the highly anticipated opening of the DC-USA complex across the street. The challenge is to mix up dining destinations that appeal to both neighborhood residents coming home from a long day of work, and visitors who might want to have a quick meal while they’re shopping at DC-USA (which will have the city’s first Target, as well as Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond, Marshalls, Staples and more).

Also important for Donatelli in the selection process is an emphasis on providing opportunities to local business owners. Chris Donatelli, president of Donatelli Development, stated, “While we are proud to be bringing two very well-known national food service names to the development, we are prouder still to be making the vast majority of our retail opportunities available to local business owners, many of whom will be opening their first store after long careers working for other people.” Six out of the eight retailers at Kenyon Square are locally owned (including two locally owned franchises), as are five of the six retailers at the Ellington.

Going Rental: Bringing Balance to the Columbia Heights Residential Market

Donatelli Development decided this week to convert the residential portion of Highland Park, with 229 one- and two-bedroom units (some with lofts and dens), from a condominium project to a luxury rental building.

“In light of recent shifts in the condominium market, we decided that we would be in a better position to serve the Columbia Heights market with a luxury rental building,” stated company president Chris Donatelli, “since the balance of residential offerings in the neighborhood had been trending so heavily toward condominiums.”
Through the conversion, unit mix and finishes will remain unchanged from what was planned: the homes will feature stained concrete floors, granite counters and high-end urban finishes. The building is uniquely positioned in the rental market, with an unusually large, full-service hotel-style lobby, two-level fitness center, and stunning views from the upper levels and the roof terrace.

“With two large buildings in the neighborhood, we’re in a position to understand what’s happening in the market on an extremely local level,” Donatelli continued. “We felt that, during the area’s recent growth spurt, residential offerings had become out of balance. By pulling a large chunk of units from the condo market, we make a whole new class of product available to the Columbia Heights rental market.”

Donatelli has established a solid reputation for quality and luxury in its rental offerings with the Ellington Apartments at 13th and U streets. The Ellington, developed in 2004, has set a new standard for rental luxury in the competitive U Street market, and has been at near 100% occupancy since it opened.
Meanwhile, Donatelli Development’s recently completed condominium building across the street, Kenyon Square, is 70% sold, and sales continue with immediate delivery available.

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