Developer Brick Lane, in partnership with Brook Rose Development, is banking on buyers with imagination to look at two raw industrial warehouses on Girard Street, NW and see home.
The project’s name, Helicopter Factory, is an homage to the buildings’ early 20th century past as inventor Emile Berliner’s workshop for building light-wing rotary engines for helicopters. It sits in DC’s Pleasant Plains, north of Shaw and east of Columbia Heights—i.e. a convergence zone for two of the District’s hottest, fastest changing neighborhoods. Genuinely industrial spaces (the kind that developers across the city are racing to imitate with new construction) are surprising enough to come across in DC, but in an otherwise quiet, residential neighborhood of small rowhouses, these warehouses are particularly unexpected.
The unique nature of the site—historic architecture fronted by a parking lot, all in a low-density zone—demanded some creative strategizing on the part of the development team. Rather than chop the old factory up into condos (an effort that would’ve required negotiations with the Board of Zoning Adjustment), the team opted to instead convert the historic buildings into two single-family “mansions.” On the former parking lot, it will erect 13 industrial-style condos from the ground up.
Though they’re still a construction zone, the two warehouse/mansions are already listed for sale with TTR Sotheby’s. Buyers who jump on them now will have the ability to customize the spaces. The larger of the two comprises 5,077 square feet on three levels, plus a roof deck and a 1,500-square-foot courtyard. Its $2.5 million price tag includes the finishes the buyer will help select. The smaller warehouse, at 2,460 square feet on two levels, is listed for $1.5 million.
Listing agent Mike Hines says interested potential buyers so far include “empty-nester couples, some tech guys, and a handful of pro athletes.” Hines says the mansions could finish within six months once they have buyers. The 13 condos are slated for completion by year-end, and a few of the units will be released for pre-sale within the next month. They’ll range from $699,000 to just shy of $1 million.