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Turning Old Capitol Hill Hospital Into Apartments Presented Challenges And Benefits, Developers Say

For more than two decades, the 1920s-era hospital at 700 Constitution Ave NE has sat vacant. In less than six months, hundreds of people will move into the historic building after three local developers finish turning it into one of Capitol Hill's first luxury apartment buildings


Urban Structures' Terry Busby, Borger Management's Tom Borger and Ron Paul with his Ronald D. Paul Cos development firm are teaming up on this $38M redevelopment

In a quiet residential neighborhood of townhouses, Terry says neighbors were at first skeptical about a new apartment building. But after several Advisory Neighborhood Commission meetings he says residents came around to it, in large part because they were preserving the historic qualities of the building that fit in with the neighborhood's style.

"It's a lot better walking up to a historic building like that on Capitol Hill than a slick, glass-fronted building like you'd see on 14th," says Terry, pictured in the middle with Tom on his right.  

EagleBank CEO Ron Paul at a 2016 Bisnow event

Ron, also the CEO of EagleBank, says in his nearly 40 years in the industry, this is one of the most unique projects he has ever seen.

"Both in my real estate world and my banking world I’ve never seen a repositioning of a hospital," Ron says. "We did an office to apartments, but nothing like a hospital."


When it's completed early next year, the building will have 143 units with a rooftop deck, outdoor courtyard (below), fitness center, yoga room and e-lounge, among other amenities.

The 88-year-old hospital building had some recent additions that the developers were able to demolish and build on while keeping the core intact.


To meet historic preservation standards, the developers returned the façades on 7th Street NE, 8th Street NE, Mass Avenue and Constitution Avenue to their original appearances. The building's history gives it some unique qualities, like high ceilings, large windows and a lot of natural light, Tom says, but also presented many challenges

"It’s been a very complex project with historical components, new construction components, digging dirt components, it’s been difficult." Tom says. "That also makes it unique." 


The building will start pre-leasing in November, and Tom says they already have plenty of interest from neighbors looking to downsize from their townhouses. They expect a mix of empty-nesters, Millennials, and even congressmen to fill the luxury-finished apartments, which are a mix of studios, one- and two-bedrooms. 

The partnership signed a 99-year land lease on the property and Ron says that unlike many of his quick turnaround projects, he doesn't plan on flipping this one any time soon.

"This was something we designed for our children and grandchildren," Ron tells Bisnow. "Something we’re not looking to sell, so we put a lot of extra tender love and care into it."  

Related Topics: Capitol Hill