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The nuts and bolts behind seven top-dollar transactions this month. Plus—a nearly $7 million sale in Wesley Heights.
This seven-bedroom house in Georgetown sold for $5 million. Photograph by David Pipkin.


Sold: $5,000,000.

Listed: $5,500,000.

Days on market: 42.

Where: Georgetown.

Style: Colonial.

Bragging points: Seven bedrooms, six baths, large yard, eat-in kitchen.

Who: Bought by Michael Rankin, managing partner of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.

Sold: $6,833,333.

Listed: $7,495,000.

Days on market: 484.

Where: Wesley Heights.

Style: Colonial.

Bragging points: Seven bedrooms, 12 baths (including two in the master suite), four-car garage, swimming pool; on 1.4 acres.

Who: Bought by Mae Haney Grennan, chief counsel for the Franklin L. Haney Company, a real-estate investment firm.

Sold: $2,743,000.

Listed: $2,743,000.

Days on market: 1.

Where: Wesley Heights.

Style: Tudor.

Bragging points:Six bedrooms, seven baths; newly built custom home.

Who: Bought by Stephen and Randi Orava. Stephen is a partner at King & Spalding, where he chairs the international-trade practice.


Sold: $2,500,000.

Retired NBA player Sherman Douglas finally sold his Potomac home, which was on the market more than two years. Photograph by David Pipkin.

Listed: $2,745,000.

Days on market: 886.

Where: Potomac.

Style: Colonial.

Bragging points:Five bedrooms, nine baths, outdoor kitchen, gated entrance; on two acres.

Who: Sold by retired NBA point guard Sherman Douglas, who played for Miami, Boston, Milwaukee, New Jersey, and the LA Clippers.

Sold: $2,580,000.

Listed: $2,950,000.

Days on market: 642.

Where: Potomac.

Style: Colonial.

Bragging points: Four bedrooms, six baths, with an interior by acclaimed designer Barry Dixon. Featured in House Beautiful and Decor magazines.

Who: Sold by a trustee of Patrick McGeehin, a senior managing director at FTI Consulting.


Sold: $2,700,000.

The buyers of a McLean Colonial got $550,000 knocked off the list price. Photograph by David Pipkin.

Listed: $3,250,000.

Days on market: 113.

Where: McLean.

Style: Colonial.

Bragging points: Five bedrooms,seven baths,library, wine storage, billiard room.

Who: Bought by Mehdi Tehranchi, chairman and CEO of Notable Solutions, an information-technology company.

Sold: $2,259,000.

Listed: $2,299,900.

Days on market: 68.

Where: McLean.

Style: Colonial.

Bragging points: Six bedrooms, seven baths, sunroom, walk-out basement, two-story foyer, pool.

Who: Sold by neurologist Sheila Jahan.

Some sales information provided by American City Business Leads and Diana Hart of TTR Sotheby International Realty. Sales listed were the most expensive of those with publicly available details.

This article appears in the December 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 09:23 AM/ET, 12/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The former Wizards point guard finally sold the house after dropping the price—and removing a shark tank. By Benjamin Freed
Photograph via Redfin.

It's been a while since we heard anything from former Washington Wizards point guard and noted handgun owner Gilbert Arenas, but the onetime NBA star popped back into the local scene last week when he finally unloaded his seven-bedroom mansion in Great Falls for $2.5 million, according to real-estate listing service Redfin.

The palatial spread, set on a 1.2-acre plot in a gated community on Georgetown Pike, includes eight and a half bathrooms, a two-story entrance, a massive black-crystal chandelier, and a pool area that features a grotto and a bar. Arenas, who played with the Wizards from 2003 to 2010, bought the house for $2.875 million during his first season in Washington.

Arenas, 32, last played professionally for the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association during the 2012-13 season. He averaged 25 points and 4.2 rebounds per game over seven-plus seasons with the Wizards, a stint that was interrupted after December 2009, when he admitted to storing unloaded guns in his Verizon Center locker, violating both NBA rules and the District's stringent firearm laws. Arenas eventually pleaded guilty to one felony count of carrying an unlicensed pistol into a workplace and was sentenced to two years of probation plus 30 days in a halfway house, while the NBA suspended him for the remainder of the season. Arenas's time in Washington ended in late 2010 when he was traded to the Orlando Magic.

Shark tank, since removed. Photograph via Redfin.

Arenas is selling his home for double Great Falls's 90-day median sale price of $1.25 million, but it's still far less than the $3.5 million he originally asked for when he listed it in 2012. Besides the high asking price, another possible reason it lingered on the market for so long is that prospective buyers were turned off by one of its defining architectural features: a huge shark tank built into a kitchen wall. As much as everyone loves sharks, aquarium maintenance can really spike one's water bill. The shark tank appears to have been removed.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 11:07 AM/ET, 12/01/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
It's a fixer-upper, but one with a ton of history. By Benjamin Freed
Photograph via Redfin.

The median home price in Crestwood, a quiet, leafy enclave nestled against the western side of Rock Creek Park, is about $850,000. But the house at 1907 Quincy Street, Northwest, at the end of a cul de sac overlooking the park, is selling for only $600,000.

What's the catch? Well, it's in terrible shape after being abandoned 34 years ago after it was bombed by Croatian nationalists. They attempted to take out a Yugoslavian diplomat at the height of Cold War tensions in the Balkans. Nobody was killed in the early-morning explosion on June 3, 1980 that targeted Yugoslavian Ambassador Vladimir Sindjelic, but the blast caused extensive damage to the four-bedroom colonial, in addition to rattling one of DC's most idyllic communities. A Croatian splinter group claimed responsibility for the attack in a letter to the Washington Post that requested, among other demands, that another convicted Croatian terrorist and "karate master" sitting in a Swedish prison receive medical treatment.

The gift shop at the Statue of Liberty was also bombed that day in an attack that the FBI also attributed to Croatian separatists, but no arrests appear to have been made in either case. State Department officials speculated the bombings might have been a warning shot to President Jimmy Carter ahead of a planned visit to Yugoslavia to support its unity following the death of President Josip Broz Tito.

Since the 1980 bombing, the Crestwood house has remained empty and left to deteriorate. The Croatian extremists who attempted to blow it up might be further miffed that after Yugoslavia's 1992 dissolution, the house passed to the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to DC property records.

Besides being in a lovely neighborhood, the house also sits in an enviable DC Public Schools tract, with local kids attending highly rated Powell Elementary, Alice Deal Middle School, and Wilson High School. But it's in no condition to be inhabited, with overgrown mold splotches covering the walls, tree limbs growing through broken windows, and ceilings so delicate, prospective buyers are required to sign waivers before touring the property. It's not necessarily a tear-down, says Rebecca Love, an agent with the real-estate listing service Redfin.

But between a house in such poor condition being an unlikely candidate for financing and the additional hoops that come with buying from a foreign government, the Bosnian embassy is only considering cash offers, allowing 1907 Quincy to stay on the market for much longer than the 11-day median in Zip code 20011.

Turns out the house isn't just connected to Eastern European ethnic wars, though. Before Yugoslavia, the house was owned by Ezra Taft Benson, President Dwight D. Eisenhower's agriculture secretary who later served as the president of the Mormon church.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 01:37 PM/ET, 11/07/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
It's safe to say no one will forget which house is yours. By Michelle Thomas

Passerby have long slowed to gawk at this amorphous Bethesda home off Western Avenue—which locals have dubbed the "mushroom house," the "blob house," and the "hobbit house," among other inventive nicknames. The 1923 cave-like abode, a late-1960s renovation by futuristic architect Roy Mason, was even spotlighted in Matt Lake's 2006 book Weird Maryland. Now, owners Edward and Frances Garfinkle have put the polyurethane foam creation on the market. In addition to the four bedrooms and 3,700 square feet of quirk, the place also offers up a legal one-bedroom rental. Just $1.2 million to make this baby yours, folks.

Take a look inside—full details at Long & Foster.

Read More

Posted at 12:43 PM/ET, 10/28/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Four charts that explain how DC's new, young residents fuel rising housing costs. By Benjamin Freed
The millennials, in one chart. Images courtesy Urban Institute.

The secret's been out for a while that the District's housing market continues to challenge lower-income residents. But a new, interactive report from the Urban Institute shows just how staggering the decline in affordable units has been and why the city's steady influx of young professionals is fueling the trend.

Nine years ago, more than 65,000 rental units across DC charged less than $800 per month. In 2012, that figure plummeted to about 34,000 units. Meanwhile, the number of apartments that go for at least four digits a month has grown to two-thirds of the rental market. Of the 152,845 apartments counted in the Urban Institute's study, 64 percent cost over $1,000 per month, and 35 percent feature rents of at least $1,500.

The rent keeps going up and up.

Home ownership also remains out of reach for an increasing number of District residents, the study finds. The District's housing prices did not lose much in the 2007-2009 recession and have continued to stay high, especially in Ward 2, where the median house costs $1.28 million, and Ward 3, where the median home sale is $989,100. While housing costs have stayed up, DC has swelled with new, high-priced units. Between 2002 and 2013, the city added 600 condominium developments, 4,000 single-family homes, and 680 apartment buildings, many of which saturate newly expensive neighborhoods like 14th Street, Northwest, Shaw, Navy Yard, and H Street, Northeast.

Home sale prices have not changed much since the Great Recession.

So, who's fueling the building boom and soaring rents? A lot of the new housing demand can be attributed to DC's growing population of so-called "millennials"—people between 18 and 34 years old. The District's population has gone from 572,000 in 2000 to 646,449 in 2013, according to the Census Bureau. According to the Urban Institute, of people who moved into the District in 2011, 67 percent were in that age range. People age 35 and older accounted for 52 percent of people who already lived in DC for at least a year. New residents also tended to be mostly single people or couples without children, compared to 38 percent of existing residents in families with children. High-income earners also made up a 36.9 percent plurality of newcomers.

Studios and one-bedrooms for medium- and high-income earners quadrupled between 2005 and 2011.

On the flip-side, the number of apartments available to people making low, very low, or extremely low incomes collapsed between 2005 and 2011. The number of studios and one-bedrooms available to people with extremely low incomes—30 percent or less than the median—dropped by nearly half over that span. But for people with medium and high incomes, the supply of studios and one-bedrooms quadrupled over that six-year period.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 10:04 AM/ET, 10/07/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Washington uber developer says some surprising tenants are coming to his Hecht Warehouse project in Ivy City. By Marisa M. Kashino
Rendering courtesy of Douglas Development.

Updated Friday, August 29: Ari Gejdenson confirms his restaurant group, Mindful Restaurants, will open three places at Hecht Warehouse. In an e-mail, he says: "We're in the process of wrapping up the lease and I'm thrilled that Mindful Restaurants can be a part of the exciting revitalization of Ivy City and the Hecht warehouse. It's the most beautiful warehouse I've ever seen and, having grown up in NE, it means a lot to me that this historic building and it's surrounding neighborhood will once again be a thriving part of our city."

Unless you're low on gas, have a fast food craving, or want to spend the night in a cheap motel, there's not much to stop for along heavily industrial New York Avenue, Northeast. On Thursday, the city announced plans to attempt to rectify that. The five-year Ward 5 Works plan aims to adapt industrial land to encourage the growth of business, residential, and cultural areas.

It's good news for Douglas Jemal, president of Douglas Development, who made an early—and sizable—bet on Ivy City, the small neighborhood just off New York Avenue, with Hecht Warehouse District. Housed in the building formerly used as the distribution center for Hecht's department store, the project is slated to bring 350 apartments, plus retail and restaurants. By January's groundbreaking, Jemal had lined up two retail tenants for the space: Mom's Organic Market and Planet Fitness.

As it stands now, though, it's tough to imagine, say, a Banana Republic or a trendy restaurant setting up shop there. But Jemal insists that's exactly what's on the way. During a conversation with Washingtonian earlier this week, the developer shared this list of tenants that he expects to open in the Hecht project: Banana Republic, Gap, Nike, Petco, Busboys and Poets, and three restaurants from the restauranteur behind Ghibellina (on 14th Street, Northwest) and Acqua Al 2 (near Eastern Market). We've reached out to Busboys owner, Andy Shallal, and Ari Gejdenson, owner of Ghibellina and Acqua Al 2, for comment, and will update if we hear back.

Construction of the retail space is scheduled to begin early next year—we'll stay tuned. 

Find Marisa Kashino on Twitter @marisakashino.

Posted at 02:58 PM/ET, 08/28/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
DC houses fetch close to $4 million and $7 million. Plus—a former NFL commissioner and player strike deals in the burbs.
This six-bedroom mansion in Massachusetts Avenue Heights sold to a UBS managing director. Photographs by David Pipkin.

This Victorian rowhouse with a wine cellar in Georgetown sold for $3 million-plus.


Stephen and Diana Goldberg sold a nine-bedroom, 11-bath Tudor on Garfield Street in Wesley Heights for $6.6 million. The 12,000-square-foot home boasts a three-story guesthouse, his-and-hers master bathrooms and walk-in closets, a theater, and a pool. The philanthropists are best known for two $25-million donations—in 2001 and in 2008—to Children’s National Medical Center, among the largest ever to an American pediatric hospital.

Dale Gray, a senior risk expert at the International Monetary Fund, and wife Cheryl, a director at the Inter-American Development Bank, bought a Victorian rowhouse in Georgetown for $3.1 million. The renovated four-bedroom, six-bath home has a wine cellar and gourmet kitchen.

Margaret Warner, a correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, sold a five-bedroom, five-bath house on Loughboro Road in Spring Valley for $2.3 million. The Georgian has a master suite with dressing room and fireplace, plus enough parking in its circular driveway for ten cars.

Roderick and Alexia Von Lipsey bought a French Provincial-style mansion in Massachusetts Avenue Heights for $3.3 million. At almost 6,000 square feet, it has six bedrooms and six baths. Roderick Von Lipsey is a managing director at the financial-services firm UBS.

Real-estate developer Conrad Cafritz sold a Colonial on Garfield Street in Wesley Heights for $3.9 million. The four-bedroom, five-bath house features a 60-foot-long pool and was renovated by award-winning architect Mark McInturff. Cafritz is CEO of Cafritz Interests, which owns 100-plus properties valued at a total of more than $1.2 billion.

In Maryland

Paul Tagliabue and wife Chandler bought a three-bedroom, three-bath condo in Chevy Chase for $2.9 million. The 2,500-square-foot space includes built-in shelving, multiple balconies, and a master bath with a whirlpool tub. Paul Tagliabue was commissioner of the NFL from 1989 to 2006. A graduate of Georgetown University, he’s currently chair of the school’s board of directors.

Built in 1925 and since expanded, this Dutch Colonial in Arlington went for $1.8 million.

In Virginia

Joan Rohlfing and husband Pallav Das bought a five-bedroom, four-bath Dutch Colonial in Arlington for $1.8 million. Built in 1925 and since expanded, it includes a sunroom and a spacious patio. Rohlfing is president and chief operating officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit focused on preventing the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

Steve and Terry Largent sold a Colonial-style townhouse on Randolph Court in Arlington for $1.6 million. The three-bedroom, five-bath home has an elevator, theater room, and large master suite. Steve Largent played 14 seasons as a wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks before serving as a congressman from Oklahoma from 1994 to 2002.

Some sales information provided by American City Business Leads and Diana Hart of TTR Sotheby International Realty.

This article appears in the September 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 08/26/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Opera star Renée Fleming lands in the Palisades for $1.9 million, and Redskins coach Jay Gruden buys in Leesburg for $2.5 million.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden bought a model house built by Apex Custom Homes. Photograph courtesy of Apex Custom Homes.


Renée Fleming and her husband chose a new Federal-style townhouse with views of the Potomac River. Photograph by David Pipkin.

Opera soprano Renée Fleming and husband Timothy Jessell bought a three-bedroom, five-bath Federal-style townhouse in the Palisades for $1.9 million. Built this year, the home has Potomac River views, a rooftop terrace with a fireplace, and a master bathroom with heated floors and a jetted tub. Fleming became the first classical singer to perform the national anthem at the Super Bowl in February. Jessell is a partner at Greenberg Traurig.

Diane Guglielmino-Terpeluk, widow of Republican fundraiser and former ambassador to Luxembourg Peter Terpeluk, bought a Tudor in Wesley Heights for $2.7 million. The five-bedroom, five-bath home, built in 1932, was renovated in 2009. It features a flagstone terrace and an au pair suite.

Attorney Robert Litowitz bought a contemporary loft-style penthouse on Adams Morgan’s Champlain Street for $1.8 million. The three-bedroom, three-bath condo has soaring ceilings and 1,900 square feet of private terrace. Litowitz is a partner at the intellectual-property law firm Kelly IP.

In Maryland

Financial executive Mark Spindel and wife Kathryn bought a five-bedroom, eight-bath modern house in Glen Echo for $4.1 million. The award-winning home, designed by Robert M. Gurney, overlooks the Potomac River and boasts a saltwater lap pool and a detached guest suite and home office. Mark Spindel is founder and chief executive of the investment-management firm Potomac River Capital.

Construction executive Brian Abt sold a four-bedroom, five-bath Colonial on Rollinmead Drive in Gaithersburg for $1 million. It features a library and sunroom. Abt is division president and CEO of the Mid-Atlantic region for Clark Construction.

This Wesley Heights Tudor, with five bedrooms and five baths, sold for $2.7 million. Photograph by David Pipkin.

In Virginia

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and wife Sherry bought a newly built home for $2.5 million at Creighton Farms, a gated golf-course community in Leesburg. The four-bedroom, five-bath French Provincial boasts a wine cellar and a grand walk-in closet/dressing area in the master bedroom. The home comes with access to concierge services and the Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course. A bonus: Gruden now lives just a few doors away from RG3.

Former congresswoman Margaret Heckler,Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Reagan administration, sold a three-bedroom, three-bath, two-story penthouse condominium on Oak Street in Arlington for $1.7 million. The unit has panoramic views of DC and the monuments and a private elevator.

Attorney L. James D’Agostino and wife Joan sold a six-bedroom, six-bath Colonial on Litton Lane in McLean for $1.7 million. The house has a wood-paneled “clubroom” with built-in bar. D’Agostino is a partner at Greenberg Traurig.

Some sales information provided by American City Business Leads and Diana Hart of TTR Sotheby International Realty.

This article appears in the August 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 11:43 AM/ET, 07/28/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
What we’d buy with $1.345 million. By Michelle Thomas

Regardless of how you might feel about the recent trend toward splitting old Victorian rowhouses into multiple units, this one—on Riggs Place in Dupont—comes close to sophisticated perfection. Light and airy, with just the right touches of historic detail, this condo is the two-story penthouse in a four-story home that dates to 1916. Lock 7 Development transformed the place into its current iteration, featuring knockout design choices such as dark hardwood floors, elegant moldings and medallions along the walls and ceilings, big picture windows, and a gorgeously intricate (closed-off, but still!) fireplace mantel in the open-layout living area. Off the upstairs bedrooms—there are three—is a two-level private deck overlooking the city skyline. It’s listed at $1.345 million. Take a quick peek below, then go to Lindsay Reishman Real Estate for more (or check it out in person Saturday at the open house).


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Posted at 01:44 PM/ET, 06/27/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Developer SB-Urban will turn the historic home into luxury micro-unit rentals. By Michelle Thomas
Photograph by Sean Shanahan, courtesy of TTR Sotheby's.

The sale of Dupont Circle’s Patterson Mansion may not have been the quickest deal in Washington real estate—the historic home has been sitting on the market since the spring of 2013—but on Monday the property finally closed at $20 million. That is $6 million under list price, but still makes it Washington’s priciest residential sale since 2011, according to TTR Sotheby’s, who brokered the transaction.

Bethesda-based developer SB-Urban bought the 37,000-square-foot residence. In February, the developer submitted plans to convert the mansion into 90 350-square-foot luxury micro-units, combining the original marble and brick four-story building with a new, seven-story addition.

The property boasts a storied history—originally built in 1901 for Chicago Tribune editor Robert Patterson and his family, in 1927 the mansion was briefly the temporary home to President Calvin Coolidge while the White House underwent renovations. The Washington Club has owned the property since 1951, and it's been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972.

Posted at 11:15 AM/ET, 06/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()