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MidCity Files Plans For 363-Unit Mount Vernon Square Project

A rendering of MidCity's 1200 Fifth St. NW project in Mount Vernon Triangle.

MidCity is planning to add 300 apartments to a Mount Vernon Square site it has owned since the 1960s. 

The developer filed a planned-unit development application Friday for a 363-unit project at 1200 Fifth St. NW, replacing a vacant 63-unit building it owns on the site. 

The PUD application allows the developer to add roughly 20% more units to the site than if it built under the existing zoning, a benefit that MidCity thinks is worth the longer process. 

"We did the analysis and the opportunity the PUD provides to enhance the density and realize and leverage the full value of the site to build more total and affordable units was compelling," MidCity Executive Vice President Jamie Weinbaum told Bisnow

But the PUD process presents more risk that a project could experience lengthy delays.

A surge of court appeals over PUD approvals has delayed developments throughout D.C. in recent years, including MidCity's own Rhode Island Avenue project. The project was appealed in May 2018 and has yet to be decided, but it has a court hearing scheduled for Sept. 26. 

The raft of appeals has led many developers to shy away from the PUD process, but MidCity is not deterred, Weinbaum said. He said the court's recent decisions in favor of developers show him the PUD process is becoming less risky. 

"We've been encouraged by what we've seen in the last six months with regard to the way the Court of Appeals has been handling the recent PUD appeals," Weinbaum said. "There have been fewer PUDs over the last few years as a result of the challenges to the zoning approvals, but we think we have turned a corner and the court is viewing projects more favorably."

MidCity 1200 Fifth St. NW

Weinbaum hopes to break ground on the project in 2021 and deliver in 2023. The project would demolish the vacant 63-unit garden-style apartment community on the site and replace it with a 50-foot-tall project with 363 units. The development would consist of two wings of apartments connected with an "amenity bar" featuring a pool, a lounge, a fitness center, a lobby and a leasing office. 

The apartments will range from studios to three-bedroom units, and roughly 12% of them wll be set aside as affordable. MidCity brought on Torti Gallas Urban to design the project. 

The property sits about two blocks east of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and the Mount Vernon Square Metro station. MidCity founder Eugene Ford acquired the site following the 1968 riots and constructed the 63-unit property that the company has owned for half a century.

Weinbaum said MidCity plans to continue to own the property for generations after building the new project, part of the reason it is willing to risk a delay to realize the full potential of the site.