Historic South Cathedral Mansions Apartments in Woodley Park to Undergo 2 Year Renovation

by Prince Of Petworth June 25, 2014 at 3:55 pm 14 Comments

Photo courtesy LHB Communications

From a press release:

“South Cathedral Mansions, a landmark apartment building situated in Woodley Park on prestigious Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC, has changed hands for only the fourth time since it was designed and developed in 1922 by the iconic team of Harry Wardman and Mihran Mesrobian. Located one block from the Woodley Park/Adams Morgan Metro station and directly across from the National Zoo, the 131-apartment property was acquired by Commonwealth Cooperative, a recently formed group of Washington, DC multifamily industry veterans.

While this is Commonwealth Cooperative’s first acquisition, the team members have extensive experience in the city’s multifamily market, particularly in the acquisition and renovation of historic apartment buildings. The joint venture is led by Commonwealth Residential and CAS Riegler, with property management provided by Oculus Realty and construction services provided by Snead Construction.

Commonwealth Cooperative’s collaborative approach with the tenants, via TOPA (Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act), coupled with their commitment to historic renovation, provided the framework for a partnership with the South Cathedral Mansions Tenant Association to redevelop the property.

“We are bringing a new approach to working with tenants’ associations based on honesty, transparency, and flexibility,” said Brad Gilchrist, Managing Principal of Commonwealth Residential. “The tenants who have chosen to continue renting here will benefit from a highly innovative profit-participation plan.”

Beginning in November, the building will undergo an extensive two-year renovation to provide modern amenities while preserving and enhancing its historic character. The project will provide all-new unit interiors, central HVAC, upgraded common areas, a state-of-the-art fitness center, unique community space within the original carriage house, and other improvements. By reconfiguring the apartment layouts and incorporating previously unutilized attic space, Commonwealth Cooperative will add 29 new apartments, 17 of which will feature 20-30 foot ceiling heights.

“Upon completion of these extensive renovations, South Cathedral Mansions will compete with Class A properties along Connecticut Avenue and in other sought-after neighborhoods of Washington,” said Kevin Riegler, Principal of CAS Riegler. “We have an in-depth understanding of the way these buildings were built, how to preserve them, and how to ensure that they last into future generations.”

South Cathedral Mansions, located at 2900 Connecticut Avenue, NW, is included in both the National Register of Historic Places and the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites. When originally developed by Wardman as part of a three-building complex totaling 492 apartments, it was reputed to be the largest US apartment community south of New York City.

Wardman lost the property in the run-up to the Great Depression; since 1927, South Cathedral Mansions has had just two owners. In 1961, the property was acquired by District Intown Properties, LP on behalf of the Calomiris family. The seller was represented by HFF in today’s sale to Commonwealth Cooperative.”

  • nat

    Oops spelling error in title….”Woodely”…though I like the sound of it!

  • anon

    “Located one block from the Woodley Park/Adams Morgan Metro station and directly across from the National Zoo”–hah.

    • Anonymous

      That’s not even possible.

      • Anonymous

        I wondered about that too! I live practically on top of the Woodley Park metro stop. Even if they mean across from zoo property, not the entrance, there’s a few blocks to go.

      • Anonymous

        If you take the elevator entrance on Woodley Rd as the reference point for the Metro, and the northernmost section of this apartment complex as the other end point (it abuts the Starbucks which I think can be argued is directly across from the zoo entrance) then this statement isn’t that big of a stretch. And you ignore the little segment of Garfield right there, it’s not REALLY a street, c’mon; everybody KNOWS that single block of Conn Ave runs from Woodley to Cathedral just like on the east side. Real estate cartography is fun and creative!

  • kook47797

    Had a friend who lived here. Poor woman, she carried with her a moldy carpet stench she surely got from the building. Hopefully the reno will get rid of that.

  • Accountering

    Their definition of a block is interesting. I suppose it is a Russian super block away from Woodley Park Metro?

  • LAduvet

    I live across the street from this building – its so gorgeous and in need of a pick me up. Actually now that i think about it – most of the apartments along Connecticut AVE from woodley to van ness lack central AC.

    • Rich

      No central air—-like living at the end of civilization.

      Actually window units often work better than the through the wall things or in-unit heat pumps.

      • laduvet

        We have AC window units , they are new and quite effective. The building gave us one for every bedroom and the living space – and electric is included in rent – I feel no shame using these babies often.

    • Pixie

      Agreed. I think this building is beautiful, especially the big old windows, but it does need some TLC. Interested to see how this turns out.

  • Anonymous

    I looked at a unit here. Gorgeous on the outside, not so much on the inside. Tiny, dark and frankly, kind of sad.

  • Sparta

    Looks like developers are figuring out that the DC’s new demographic is not gravitating toward housing along CT and WI Aves., because condo units lack washer-dryers, central a/c, upgraded kitchens and bathrooms and lighting fixtures (for a start).

    Moldy carpets and outdated interiors no longer an acceptable trade-off for an upper NW address.

    • Anonymous

      I agree, with some upgrades this area would be a nicer place to live than, say, Columbia Heights or Petworth, for example. Especially if you work downtown, which is about 10 minutes away via the Red Line. And it used to be a bargain to live in this area. Probably not anymore.


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