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Common's Co-Living Property In D.C. Clouded In Uncertainty

Interior view of a Common unit at Richardson Place

One of the nation's first experimenters with the co-living model is seeing a suburban D.C. project face uncertainty due to local pushback against it.

New York-based co-living operator Common and developer Oaktree have been handed a setback by the Board of Zoning Adjustment for the Richardson Place 24-unit pre-furnished co-living facility on Truxton Circle. The BZA upheld an appeal filed by the Richardson Place Neighborhood Association against issuance of occupancy permits earlier this year, according to Washington City Paper. Neighbors of the three-story structure fretted about how having a co-living facility would affect the neighborhood. Common offers housing memberships for Richardson Place at $1,700/month, which gives residents the rights to a furnished bedroom and private bath, a shared kitchen and weekly cleanings.

The BZA questioned whether the operation could be allowed under the existing zoning code.

“In reality, what [the landlord is] doing is operating a commercial property in a residentially zoned area without trying to get any variances or have any community input,” Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Katherine McClelland told the paper.

Oaktree and Common said they have followed local zoning regulations and are within their rights to operate Common in the neighborhood. Despite the BZA decision, Common is continuing to offer the Richardson Place units for rent, according to its website.

A resolution to the dispute could be some time coming. The D.C. Attorney General's office must submit a draft order of the ruling, which BZA must sign and submit to all parties in the case, a process that could take upward of six months. And Oaktree and Common could appeal the ruling to the D.C. Court of Appeals, which could add years to resolution of the dispute.