Despite a slowing real estate market, small D.C.-based company Level 2 Development is breaking into the big-time condo market in a dramatic way, with two buildings and more than 400 condos slated for the 14th Street corridor, along with an innovative sales office to reel in the numbers needed to sustain such a vision.
The two-person firm, run by D.C. natives David Franco and Jeff Blum, has partnered with a Chicago development giant, Centrum Properties, which has been poised to enter the D.C. market for some time, according to Level 2 Development. The first building, View 14, is a nine-story, 180-unit, $80 million project currently in its pre-construction phase on the northeast corner of 14th Street and Florida Avenue. It will be completed by fall 2008.
The project was devised as a planned-unit development, and it will include 14,000 square feet of street-level space for two restaurants and a cafe as well as 20,000 square feet for a health club. The retailers have not yet been finalized. The company’s second building is still in the planning stages. It will include 225 units located nearly across the street from View 14 at 2400 14th St., and it is slated for completion in 2009. Sales will begin in 2007, according to the company.
View 14 launched its sales with a party at Muleh on 14th Street earlier this month, complete with drinks, hors d’oeuvres and a large model of the building that had smoke — backlit with green light — wafting up from beneath it.
About 1,000 people attended the event, with a long line of interested buyers forming at a table to offer their names. A multitude of sales agents fluttered about the building in constant conversation.
Franco declared the event “hugely successful,” saying the company has made about 150 appointments with potential buyers and is already in the double digits in terms of sold units.
“A Realtor came up to me [during the launch party] and said, ‘This is amazing — the market’s back,’” Franco said.
To keep up such excitement for the project, Level 2 Development has opened a state-of-the-art sales and design center for View 14 at 1821 14th St., near the project. The office is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from noon to 5 p.m.
The sales office displays life-sized models of some of the building’s high-end features as well as pictures of the building’s views.
The office also has plasma television kiosks where a potential buyer can look at various renderings of specific units and take a
virtual tour of the building. The company’s Web site, www.view14.com, also offers a virtual tour.
Compared with sales offices in trailers, the Level 2 space is highly refined and meant to appeal to buyers. “There is going to be a better perceived value in our building ... because you can touch, see and feel the parts of what will be your building,” Franco said. “You can go into [the office] and choose from an array of selections. ... You can act as the designer,” choosing flooring, countertops and location within the building. Franco said Level 2
Development was born about two years ago and has created smaller projects, such as the Mercury at Meridian Hill Park, a 12-unit building in Columbia Heights. At 180 units, View 14 substantially dwarfs all such previous projects.
But Franco said the company is confident in View 14’s sales, despite a slowing condo market and the scale of the project. “We
believe there’s always a buyer who’s looking for new condos. If you have a distinct product, if you can set it aside as a unique product,
people are going to flock to it.”
The View 14 building will have three levels of parking available for purchase and a ratio of 0.8 parking spaces per unit.
View 14, as specified in the application approved by the D.C. Zoning Commission, will have a green roof and seven affordable
units that will be sold at a price affordable to someone making 80 percent of the area median income.
The condos — studios to two bedrooms with dens — range from $259,000 to $1.2 million.
As a part of the amenities they offered to the community in exchange for being allowed to build View 14, the developers are
giving $1 million to tenants of Crest Hill Apartments, a low income building managed by Jubilee Housing, to help them buy
their building as a co-op and preserve affordable housing at the site.