News & Politics

Walking Distance: New Luxury Condos Offer Perks

New luxury condos—whether in DC or suburban town centers—offer everything from garden rooftops to nearby bistros and nightlife.

Despite a downturn in the real-estate market, this is an interesting time to buy a condominium. Luxury condos have helped stimulate a renaissance from many sections of DC to town centers in suburbia. With their ties to lively urban communities, these high-end, low-maintainence homes are drawing new residents and encouraging popular shops and bistros.

People looking to buy a new condo have come to expect individualized features, something to set their new home and building apart from others. Developers respond with everything from eco-friendly structures to extra-high ceilings to popular restaurants right downstairs. Here’s a look at some new projects around the area.

Old and New in DC

One of the District’s most innovative condominiums is Lofts Eleven, going up in NoMa—east of Logan Circle and north of Massachusetts Avenue. True to the neighborhood’s name, a play on Manhattan’s SoHo, Lofts Eleven (202-362-2676; captures the best of urban living: proximity to such neighborhoods as Dupont Circle and Gallery Place, charming residential areas like Logan Circle, and the K Street business corridor.

“The historic-preservation lobby is very strong here, and overall that’s a positive,” says architect Norman Smith, who is intrigued by the potential DC’s revitalization offers. “But it is important that cities grow and be dynamic. Thankfully, the door is being kept open to tasteful contemporary design.”

Smith’s design for Lofts Eleven epitomizes this balancing act, blending in with the traditional townhouses of Logan Circle as well as the more modern office buildings of downtown. He used a combination of metal, brick, and glass outside, wood floors and bamboo cabinetry inside. In addition, Smith brought to his design environmentally sound features: passive solar elements that add to energy efficiency; operable windows to provide cross-ventilation; and a rooftop of low-lying succulents that provides insulation and limits stormwater runoff. Prices for the 27 units range from $380,000 for one bedroom to $1.4 million for a two-bedroom penthouse, with delivery slated for October.

Hot Times in Downtown DC

Another condominium generating buzz for integrating old and new is Yale Steam Laundry (202-628-0460;, at Fourth Street and New York Avenue, Northwest. At the heart of this complex in a 1902 commercial laundry facility are 16 loft-style units. They have 14- to 16-foot ceilings, exposed beams, and options for two-level floor plans. Kitchen highlights include stainless-steel appliances and custom cabinetry.

Elsewhere in the complex are a fitness center, rooftop swimming pool with sundeck, and billiards lounge. The Yale also has the advantage of its Mount Vernon Square neighborhood, with easy access to Verizon Center and Gallery Place’s restaurants, bars, and movie theater.

Yale Steam Laundry will be supplemented by Yale East, with 133 units that will offer more lofts along with one- and two-bedroom units. The final phase will be Yale West, with 210 units. Buyers can expect delivery of Yale Steam Laundry and Yale East by late 2007, with Yale West to come in 2009. Prices will start in the $300,000s

Living Large in Bethesda

Bethesda is one of the area’s more desirable destinations, offering easy commutes into the District and amenities that might well keep locals close to home. “Bethesda is close to DC but with about 200 restaurants nearby,” says Len O’Donnell, principal of Patrinely Group, which is developing the Trillium condo complex. “You don’t have to leave the neighborhood to have fun, but the city is just ten minutes away.”

Trillium units (877-293-2500; are larger than average; most have two or three bedrooms, with large master suites and kitchens, and some include dens. Most units will have corner windows and face green spaces, and a courtyard with local artists’ work adds to this open feeling. All that increases the Trillium’s appeal to empty-nesters: much of what a single-family house offers but no annoying upkeep and isolation from city life.

Construction has not yet begun, but the Trillium plans to open 173 residences, mostly two-bedrooms-with-den, in three towers in 2009. Prices will range from the $500,000s to about $3 million.

Above All the Action in Rockville

Rockville is popular among homeowners who don’t wish to live so close to the District but also don’t want to get lost in a residential-only suburbia. In the new Rockville Town Center, the Palladian (301-610-6035; fits the bill.

At ground level, residents find pedestrian traffic, a rich array of shops, a fountain flanked by trees, benches that encourage people to lounge in the square, and artwork in public spaces. Rockville Town Center also boasts a state-of-the-art public library and an Arts and Innovations Center, which provides classes and exhibitions in galleries and studio space.

Upstairs at home, buyers enjoy hardwood floors, maple cabinets, and granite countertops in kitchens and baths, bay windows and private terraces (in some units), and a pool, fitness center, and clubroom.

A big plus of this location is the proximity of the Rockville Metro station and MARC trains, just two blocks away. The Palladian offers one-, two-, and three-bedroom units and lofts ranging from the mid-$300,000s to the high $800,000s.

Panoramic Views, Close In

From its sweeping views of the Potomac and the DC skyline to its private elevators and state-of-the-art security system, Turnberry Tower in Rosslyn (703-243-3000; defines luxury. Floor-to-ceiling windows, nine- to ten-foot ceilings, and opulent details are highlights of Turnberry properties, as are amenities such as an indoor pool and fitness center, gym, and 24-hour valet and concierge.

Buyers want a convenient location and a sense of community, which Turnberry has. Max Allegretta, deputy of the Army’s future-combat-systems division, looked at many properties before deciding to buy here. While he was drawn to its comforts, he also considered its setting—a block from the Rosslyn Metro station—a big selling point: “I’m an explorer and love to try new things. I look forward to easy access to restaurants, bars, and museums in the city,” he says, as well as the host of offerings on Metro’s Orange Line in Arlington’s booming Ballston-Rosslyn corridor.

The Turnberry’s presence is sure to bring in resident-oriented small businesses, thus boosting Rosslyn’s revitalization. Completion is planned for spring 2009; condos of one to four bedrooms will sell from the $800,000s to about $4 million.

Down to Earth in Old Town

In contrast to this grandeur is the cozy Prescott (703-519-0036;, which captures Old Town Alexandria’s low-key charms. The neighborhood is rich in history and has cute shops and good restaurants, all within a stroll.

The 64-unit Prescott considers its relative lack of amenities to be an asset. While it does have an inviting rooftop terrace, the concierge is available only eight hours a day, and there is no gym facility or pool. This has helped keep fees and end costs within reason and allowed greater attention to architectural detail: The Prescott’s blend of classical revival, Second Empire, and Georgian styles and use of cast stone and varied brick types satisfied the demands of Old Town’s architectural-review committee. And with quick access to the King Street Metro, the thinking goes, most residents won’t miss in-house amenities.

Cidette Perrin, director of government relations for VHA, a nonprofit-hospital alliance, seems to agree: “Coming from a home on a quiet street in Bethesda, I felt that a sprawling condo would be a shock to my system. Because of the coziness, I’m confident that I’ll be able to engage with my neighbors and the broader community in ways that larger condos might not allow.”

Prices for units of one to two bedrooms start in the $300,000s, and Prescott units should be open in October.