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Petworth, Park View Booming With Multifamily Projects, Restaurant Openings

A growing neighborhood in Northwest D.C. that has welcomed a wave of bars and restaurants over the last year can serve as a model for other parts of the city looking to build more development and attract new retailers. 

The 3800 block of Georgia Avenue, with new apartment projects on the left and the Safeway grocery store on the right

The roughly mile-long stretch of Georgia Avenue from Lamont Street to Upshur Street that includes part of the Petworth and Park View neighborhoods has at least 13 multifamily projects in various stages of development and has welcomed at least 17 new bars and restaurants since the start of 2018, plus a gym, a hair salon and a clothing store. 

The neighborhood will receive a spotlight Oct. 5 when D.C. hosts its first-ever open streets event on a 3-mile stretch of Georgia Avenue, closing the street to cars and featuring various activities for pedestrians. 

People who visit the neighborhood for the event will see the new roster of restaurants and a series of construction projects underway, but with a different feel than the other fast-growing parts of the city. 

Many of D.C.'s booming neighborhoods, such as NoMa and Capitol Riverfront, feature 12-story buildings that take up entire blocks with hundreds of units, but that is not the case in Petworth and Park View. The zoning classification along this stretch of Georgia Avenue only allows for buildings up to 65 feet tall.

The majority of developments underway are building within that zoning limit and not going through the lengthy process to achieve additional density, meaning most of the new buildings in the neighborhood are six stories or shorter and have fewer than 100 units. 

Warrenton Group CEO Warren Williams, who has built multiple projects in the area, said this dynamic is good for the neighborhood. 

"City planners have gotten Georgia Avenue exactly right," Williams said. "Every neighborhood is not supposed to have 12-story buildings. Every neighborhood has got to be a little different, and that's what makes Petworth special. People live in buildings that are small enough that they know their neighbors' names and say hello on the elevators and aren't strangers." 

Williams said his grandmother lived in the neighborhood and he spent time there growing up. He said it has experienced a significant amount of growth over the last decade, including his 83-unit The Avenue project, which delivered in 2012. 

"Those were my stomping grounds, so I saw many iterations of the neighborhood, but around the the time when I was developing The Avenue I started to notice some change," Williams said. "There was a period during the economic downturn where things slowed down, but when they bounced back, boy, did they bounce back." 

A rendering of the 27-unit condo project 3619 Georgia Ave. NW

Williams' uncle owned a property at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Princeton Place that has seen past lives as a gas station, a laundromat, a nail salon and a pizza shop, but now it is a construction site. Williams said his uncle had always wanted to develop it, and when his uncle died, he decided to help realize that dream.

Working with Bonstra | Haresign Architects, the Warrenton Group received approval for a 27-unit condo project with ground-floor retail on the property at 3619 Georgia Ave. NW. Williams sold the site in late 2017 to Murdock Street LLC, an entity managed by John Keskin of Chantilly. The company received a $7.5M loan last year from Mainstreet Bank, property records show, and the project is currently under construction. 

Across the street from that project, a strip of retailers features one of the neighborhood's newest dining and drinking spots. Mr. Braxton opened last month with a cocktail bar, an American food menu, an outdoor patio and antiques that give the place a vintage vibe. It was one of at least 17 bars and restaurants that have opened in the area since the start of 2018.

The seating and games area at Hook Hall, a new bar at 3400 Georgia Ave. NW

Hook Hall opened last month in a 13,500 SF space at 3400 Georgia Ave. It will open in the morning as a café and turn into a bar at night with games, rotating food vendors and an outdoor patio.

Call Your Mother, a "Jew-ish" deli from the team behind Timber Pizza Co., opened in October at 3301 Georgia Ave. NW and has quickly become one of D.C.'s most popular bagel spots. It was named one of Eater's 16 best new restaurants in America and its success allowed the ownership team to sign a 10-year lease in June for a second location in Georgetown, less than a year after opening its first. 

Last month, an unconventional non-alcoholic bar concept opened at 2822 Georgia Ave. NW. Water Bar DC offers a menu with over 40 different brands of bottled water, ranging from $4 to $25 each. 

The additional retail openings in the neighborhood that have taken place since the start of 2018 include:

This retail explosion has helped attract millennials who want to live within walking distance of trendy new places, and developers have taken notice. 

A rendering of the multifamily building with retail planned at 3831 Georgia Ave. NW

"It's definitely a cool place to be," Williams said. "It's a cool place to hang out with lots of culture, and there's a great mix of new and old folks."

Williams said he is looking to capture this type of buzz in Northeast D.C.'s Deanwood neighborhood, where his company is working on multiple mixed-use developments and recently signed Ivy City Smokehouse for its second location. 

"[Petworth] is sort of the model for some of the stuff I'm trying to do in Deanwood on the East End of the city to bring quality restaurants and bars and everything a neighborhood needs to feel like from a walkable standpoint," Williams said.

Over a dozen developments are planned, under construction or have recently delivered on the 1-mile stretch of Georgia Avenue, a Bisnow review of building permits shows. Most of them are mid-rise buildings that feature ground-floor retail, potentially ushering in a new wave of restaurants in the coming years. 

The Holladay Corp. is working on one of the largest projects in the neighborhood, a three-building project totaling 225 units just off Georgia Avenue on Lamont Street.

The first two buildings of 143 units and 77 units delivered in March and are already 40% to 50% leased, Holladay Corp. President Jessica Holladay Sterchi tells Bisnow, and a third, 15-unit building is still under construction. 

"You have people from all races, all ethnicities, all professions, all ages in this neighborhood," she said. "It's a nice mixing pot of people with all different interests being able to live together."

The neighborhood represents a more affordable option for renters than some of the District's other hot corridors, Holladay Sterchi said, estimating that Park View's rents are $1.50/SF to $2/SF below those on 14th Street. She said this dynamic has also helped the retail businesses thrive. 

"That's what's driving the restaurants, I'm sure," Holladay Sterchi said. "The rents are cheaper than 14th Street, and you're seeing a lot of these businesses move out of what's really expensive and finding less expensive rent."

A nine-unit project with retail at 3225 Georgia Ave. NW from Brick Lane Real Estate received its certificate of occupancy July 19. The project, branded as The Lamont, is actively leasing.  

Another nine-unit project with retail at 4016 Georgia Ave. NW from Lock 7 Development received its certificate of occupancy in April. 

Last week, Murillo Mallnati Group received its building permit to construct a 15-unit project with ground-floor retail at 3831 Georgia Ave. 

Two entities controlled by a team of Robert Wixson and Michael Taylor received building permits in June and July to build a pair of eight-unit condo buildings with retail at 3622 and 3626 Georgia Ave. NW. 

A 10-unit condo project from IFG Group received its building permits in April 2018 and is now actively leasing. 

Donatelli Development in 2017 completed a 32-unit building at 3825 Georgia Ave. NW. Donatelli also delivered two Petworth projects in 2009 and 2011: the 155-unit Park Place project and the 49-unit Griffin building. 

A 20-unit condo project at 3557-3559 Georgia Ave. NW delivered in late 2017. 

Two long-planned projects in the neighborhood from Zuckerman Partners have yet to move forward. The 112-unit redevelopment of a strip mall at 3333 Georgia Ave. NW was approved in 2011 but has received multiple two-year extensions, the latest in 2018. The property is currently occupied by Midlands, a popular bar and beer garden that opened in 2016. 

Zuckerman also received a two-year extension in 2016 for a 105-unit project at 3210 Georgia Ave. NW. Zuckerman did not respond to request for comment on its projects. 

A 21-unit project from Rooney Properties at 3701 New Hampshire Ave. NW, next to the Georgia Avenue intersection, received a two-year extension in November.