Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Highland Park Sidewalk Reopens; Sort Of

Mt Pleasant residents walking to and from the Columbia Heights Metro have been used to walking the unlit, narrow path that had been carved out of the roadway for some time now. For months the builders completing the Highland Park Apartments, née condos, have occupied the sidewalk area. They provided a jersey barrier for pedestrians to walk against, taking up the bus bay-lane of Irving Street. No longer. Pedestrians can now walk directly up against the building. For a while at least. The brick and concrete work aren't quite done on the sidewalk. It looks as if its a temporary move while the curb and some street work are completed. Not really all that exciting news, but it means the project is moving along, as the bulk of the work on the complex will be concentrated on finishing the interior of the building and finalizing the streetscape and landscape around the building. The project broke ground in 2005 as condominium, but was just recently "converted" into apartments.

I have two questions: What happened to the buyers of the condos who put down payments and secured financing expecting a place to live in 2008? And second, the condo project was to have up to 20% of the units available as affordable housing, with staggered Area Medium Income requirements. Will the promise of affordable housing availability be transferred to the apartment project? Rentometer estimates the median rent for a one bedroom apartment on or near that intersection to be $1450.00 per month. Since these units will be "luxury," bet on rents in the $1800-2000 range.

The retail options have been solidified in the last month as well. There will be seven total retail spaces on the first floor of Highland Park. Five are eateries: Five Guys, Potbelly, Pete's Apizza, CommomWealth (pub-like) and Zinnia (Caribbean). Of course there is a planned bank, Signal Financial Credit Union, and a new Boundless Yoga location. [OK, the bank situation is getting a little out of hand. I know having a place to deposit and borrow money is good for a community, but there are now SIX located at the Columbia Heights Metro; PNC, Wachovia, Lafayette Credit Union, CitiBank, BB&T, and now Signal. That's not including the SunTrust which was included in the preliminary DC USA plans. Doesn't add up...] All that remains is for the book store and cafe abutting the Metro entrance featured in all the promotional renderings to actually become reality. Anything can happen right?!