Historic DC mansion gets luxury apartment makeover

A historic DC mansion gets a micro makeover

WTOP's Rachel Nania

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WASHINGTON D.C.’s newest luxury apartment building, Ampeer Dupont Circle, offers more than high-end appliances, shiny hardwood floors and unmatched views of Dupont Circle.

Some of its amenities include complimentary hors d’oeuvres and an on-site mixologist. There’s also a daily continental breakfast and curated social events with a focus on art and literature.

Just don’t get too comfortable. The new residences are not meant to be your permanent address.

After three years of design and construction, Bethesda, Maryland-based Saul Urban, along with co-developer Rooney Properties, is unveiling its latest project: the transformation of D.C.’s historic Patterson mansion into a 92-unit micro-apartment development.

However, unlike most of D.C.’s new luxury apartment buildings, Ampeer Dupont Circle was not designed with long-term Washingtonians in mind. Its target demographic is the city’s transient population.

“This is specifically for individuals who have a contract, are working with an embassy, The World Bank, working at a think tank,” said Daniel Rigaux, senior vice president of finance and development for Saul Urban.

The property’s main draw is its focus on community. A grand ballroom (outfitted more like a modern living room), a comfortable library and a top-of-the-line kitchen share the building’s second floor and function as the common rooms for the apartment’s residents. Each boasts of high ceilings, crown molding and intricate historic details.

Soon after the grand opening in July, the Darryl Carter-designed spaces will be home to daily happy hours, on-site author readings, chef demonstrations and other curated social events.

“The concept is that you are moving in here to live in these public spaces,” Rigaux said.

“Everyone’s lifestyle is so busy. You’re here for a consolidated amount of time, and so you don’t have that typical social structure in place.”

The individual apartments, which range from 350-square-feet to 600-square-feet, are a mix of studios, lofts and one-bedroom units. Each is outfitted with custom furniture, high-end linens, modern appliances and private internet. Utilities plus bike- and car-share memberships are also included.

Leases range from three months to 12 months, and prices vary from $2,800 to $6,500 a month, depending on length of stay and location. Apartments were constructed both in the historic mansion and in an adjacent property, joined by a glass-enclosed bridge.

Before Saul Urban and Rooney’s 2014 $20 million purchase of the property, which straddles P Street and New Hampshire Avenue, the Dupont Circle mansion was the former home to The Washington Club, The Red Cross and the Patterson family, who built the home as their D.C. “pied-à-terre” in 1903.

Robert Wilson Patterson, the editor of the Chicago Tribune, wanted a home in D.C. where he could entertain the nation’s movers and shakers, Rigaux explained.

“So the mansion has always been very socially oriented. It’s always been drawing the city into it and connecting people in a social way,” he added.

Ampeer Dupont Circle is the flagship location for a branded line of similar concepts. A second Ampeer is being constructed in Shaw’s Blagden Alley and is slated to open in a few years. Rigaux says other neighborhoods in D.C., such as Capitol Hill and the West End, are ideal locations for future developments. 

“This community is unique. It’s not one that you would ever be able to replicate in a hotel, because that’s turning over every three days. And you wouldn’t necessarily have it in an apartment community because people who are living there for a long period of time, they already have their lives. So it’s this unique cohort of market,” Rigaux said.

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