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Demo Starts on Big (Formerly Known As Utopia) Project at 14th and U St, NW

by Prince Of Petworth December 13, 2011 at 11:30 am 16 Comments

Thanks to a reader for sending the heads up. Back when Chidogo’s closed at the end of Oct. we learned that major construction would start in Dec. Looks like they’re on schedule. I had noticed that raze permits had been posted on the old storefronts (taco bell, foot locker, domino’s, el paraiso etc.) It’s gonna be wild to see this block transform. Can’t wait for the before and after photos. Well, here’s the before:

  • Anonymous

    Do we really need this?

    • 14thstreeter

      yes

    • 13thnearu

      Do you meam do we need the demo or do you mean the project?

      If you meant the demo, I would say yes. Though I am no engineer, I think it must be very hard to construct a new building without first getting rid of the old one.

      If you mean the project, I would say yes. It’s called progress and the new building is going to be a much much much better use of urban space.

  • Anonymous

    what is this going to be?

    • princeofpetworth

      Sorry about that! Apartments and retail. I’ll be posting updates as construction progresses and retail spaces are signed.

  • kalorini

    I really wish tearing out that McDonald’s was part of the master plan…

    • scuttlebutterscotch

      Right, let’s replace it with something that poor people can’t afford, so we won’t have to look at them on our way home to our half-million dollar condos.

      • JMJ

        Yes! good thought

  • NoLongerNew2CH

    From an urban planning perspective, it is insanely stupid to have one-story, low density buildings located at a major commercial intersection adjacent to a ton of public transit options (including metro and express bus). Glad this long overdue project is beginning.

  • shawguy

    Are any of the facades at least being kept, or is that whole block being taken down to nothing? While a couple of those buildings look fairly new and uninspired, there’s one or two where the facades might be worth keeping…

    • JS

      From what I understand, the McDonald’s building on the corner is protected by historic preservation. Everything else is getting razed. I could be mistaken, though.

    • ustreetonian

      preserving these facades seem kind of “dlsney-fication” of U St. Unless they have a true historical significance that impacted the city, why should they be saved?

      • john

        The facades should be saved b/c the are beautiful.

        • Mike

          Nothing is being torn down that was built prior to WWII.

      • shawguy

        I’d add that while NoLongerNewToCH makes an excellent point that the existing density wastes the site from an urban planning perspective given the commercial activity of the block and the access to transit, you can’t beat a 1-floor facade for human scale. So many buildings just stick a retail space in the first floor of a hulking, uniform facade and it keeps the business from having any real street presence and it destroys the walkability of the area (see the businesses shoved into the base of the Convention Center on the 9th Street side if you need an example…).

        Preserving the facades at worst keeps a unique pedestrian experience while obtaining a good density on the site, and at best produces a business with a unique space and personality. I’ve even seen some one floor commercial where they saved both the facade and the front 20 or so feet of the building make use of the roof space as outdoor rooftop seating for a restaurant below. That kind of thing could have worked really well here.

  • Sara

    Big? really?

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