Buildings with fewer than 50 units make up the majority of the developments in the pipeline. Smaller buildings are easier for developers to finance. "That makes it that much easier for developers to have a successful project," says Rich.
Because many of these smaller buildings are older, they also tend to have more distinctive layouts and character. Some have private outdoor space or architectural features such as exposed timbers and brickwork.
Along DC's hot 14th Street corridor, the 36-unit, industrial-inspired Northern Exchange (1401 R St., NW; pnhoffman.com) is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. In a 1902 building that once housed C&P Telephone Company, the development will have studios and one- and two-bedrooms starting at $400,000. Features will include exposed ductwork, loft space, and original historic finishes such as pine floors and concrete or terra-cotta ceilings.
The Vistas at River Place South (1011 Arlington Blvd., Arlington; 703-650-0633; vistasdc.com) is made up of eight units in the space that once housed Arlington's Bella Vista restaurant. On the 11th floor of an apartment building, the restaurant offered great views and hosted such guests as the late congressman Charlie Wilson; it closed in 1982 and had sat vacant since then.
Although every new condo is different, you'll find ten-foot floor-to-ceiling windows with city views in most. Residents also have access to the pool, game room, and sauna of the River Place apartment complex below it. Prices range from $395,000 for a one-bedroom with den or a two-bedroom to $595,000 for a two-bedroom with den.
Private elevators that deliver residents from the underground parking garage directly to their units are a sought-after perk. And, says Jim Abdo, they aren't just a luxury feature--they're also designed to create cost and energy savings. "These buildings have no corridors," Abdo says, "so you're not paying for thousands of square feet of hallways that have to be lit, heated, and cooled 24 hours a day."
You'll find this amenity at Abdo's Gaslight Square (1700 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington; 571-249-4730; abdo.com), a new 117-unit building between the Rosslyn and Court House Metro stations. The first phase of construction, which will include 40 units, should be finished by summer. Priced between $700,000 and $1.5 million, units include one- and two-bedrooms--some offering loft spaces with 19-foot ceilings or private outdoor terraces that are wired for all-weather plasma televisions.
Direct-access elevators were part of the draw for Kenneth Greenberg when he reserved a condo at Bethesda's Quarry Springs at Stoneyhurst (8101 River Rd.; 202-257-1226; quarrysprings.com). "I love having private entry into the unit," says Greenberg, a Washington native who has worked in real estate. "I like the fact that there's not a hallway where you're smelling everybody else's cooking."
Greenberg also appreciates the 14-acre grounds, which include gardens, walking trails, and a 50-foot waterfall--a good place for walking his two golden retrievers.
"The thing that I did not like [about a previous condo] was that there were so many extra amenities that you had to pay for," he says. "I like having an outdoor pool, but I don't need an indoor pool. I like what they've put in here--they've got just enough without going overboard."
On the site of a former quarry, Quarry Springs will include 97 two-, three-, and four-bedroom units in four buildings. Scheduled to be completed in 2013, the condos will start around $1 million.