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New Project Brings Apartments, Office, Retail And A Cultural Center To 14th Street

A prime corner on the bustling 14th Street corridor is welcoming a mixed-use project this week that will add a host of new amenities to the neighborhood, thanks to a joint venture between a developer and a nonprofit healthcare provider.

The Liz mixed-use project at 14th and R streets NW

Whitman Walker, founded in 1973, specializes in healthcare for the LGBTQ community. In the early 1990s, it acquired the property on the corner of 14th and R streets NW and operated it as the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center for over 20 years. 

In 2014, the organization released a request for proposals for a development partner to redevelop the site, and it later selected Fivesquares Development. The partnership brought on renowned architect Annabelle Selldorf to design the project, her first in D.C. 

The Liz development's facade features rainbow tiles, a nod to Whitman Walker's mission to serve the LGBTQ community

The development features 78 apartments, 60K SF of office space, 20K SF of ground-floor retail and a cultural center space for the LGBTQ community. It also created landscaped, public spaces with seating along 14th and R streets. 

"It's rare to have a large enough footprint to contribute to the city with an entire block," said Fivesquares principal Ron Kaplan, who co-founded the firm with former D.C. Planning Director Andy Altman. 

Wednesday, the team will celebrate the grand opening of the project, branded as "Liz" in homage to Elizabeth Taylor. Bisnow toured the development Friday to get an early look at the new offerings it will bring to the neighborhood. 

The patient waiting area in Whitman-Walker's space on 14th Street

The 30K SF space Whitman Walker occupies on the second floor of the project is roughly the same size as the space it occupied in the previous Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center building. The historic facade of the corner building was preserved as part of the project. 

In addition to getting a new home, the nonprofit organization will also get a new income stream: a portion of the rents from the high-end apartments on the site. Whitman Walker Chief External Affairs Officer Abby Paige Fenton said this will help support the organization's mission for the long-term. 

"We serve 20,000 patients, and this building allows us to serve even more," Paige Fenton said. 

Whitman Walker's office space inside the Liz development

The third-floor office space is occupied by German cultural association Goethe-Institut. Fivesquares also moved into a portion of the building's office space, which is now fully leased. Kaplan said it received strong demand from prospective tenants, including a certain embattled coworking provider. 

"WeWork wanted it; they were begging us," Kaplan said. "We said no. Thank God we said no."

An apartment living room at the Liz development on 14th Street

The development team, working with Selldorf, designed the apartments to have condo-style finishes. Kaplan said he saw an underserved market for people who want the quality of for-sale product but the flexibility of renting. 

"The thesis is that tenants will care about the design aesthetic," Kaplan said. "People have responded and are paying for it."

The rooftop amenity space at the Liz redevelopment on 14th Street

The 78 apartments are roughly 60% leased, not including the 12 inclusionary zoning units. The building has a studio renting for $2,600, and one- and two-bedroom units ranging from $3,300 to $5,400, according to its website.

The high-end units feature white cabinetry, Bosch kitchen appliances, granite countertops and mosaic bathroom tile with Waterworks fixtures. Many of the apartments feature private balconies with plants that the building management will water. 

The building's seventh-floor rooftop features an indoor-outdoor space with a catering kitchen, grills, seating and views of the Washington Monument and National Cathedral. Amenities also include a fitness center, storage units, package lockers and a bike room. 

The parklet on the R Street sidewalk next to the Liz development

The development team also created some of the first public, outdoor seating options on 14th Street with its landscaped parklets. 

"People are hanging out at lunchtime and saying, ‘Thank you, we couldn’t buy a sandwich and sit anywhere,'" Kaplan said. 

The corner ground-level space is occupied by an LGBTQ cultural center, operated by German curator Ruth Noack. The retail space is leased to coffee shop Bluestone Lane, Sephora, Parachute and an Amazon store.