Think small: Valor flips from large condos to microunits in Dupont Circle

Like so many D.C. developers in the increasingly expensive, increasingly young District real estate marketplace, Valor Development is thinking small.

Valor’s year-old plan to convert a portion of a Dupont Circle commercial building into eight luxury condominiums was short-lived. The developer has returned to the Board of Zoning Adjustments with a revised pitch: 21 microunits.

Where the original proposal for 1337 Connecticut Ave. NW “accommodated large, luxury units,” according to a statement submitted on Tuesday to the BZA, “the Applicant believes the location is better suited for smaller, micro-units. The building is located approximately 300 feet from the Dupont Circle Metrorail Station, making it an ideal location for residential use, as well as density.”

The existing five-story, 44,000-square-foot building is home of The Gryphon, Kabin Lounge and a handful of upper floor offices. One side of the building fronts Connecticut, and the other, 18th Street NW.

It was only June 2013 when the BZA approved Valor’s previous bid, to add a sixth floor to the building (in addition to a rooftop structure that resembles a seventh). The existing, commercial fifth floor and new sixth floor would be used solely as residential — four units per story.

That was then, before microunits become a hot trend.

In the months since, SB-Urban has proposed converting the Latham Hotel in Georgetown, the Patterson Mansion in Dupont Circle and a pair of Blagden Alley buildings into a combined 355 tiny units. Gregg Busch and Brook Rose Development won approval to construct a glassy, eight-story building in the 1400 block of Church Street Northwest with 38 apartments ranging from 265 to 490 square feet. and Abdo Development teamed with D.C.-based Modus Hotels to convert the Allen Lee Hotel in Foggy Bottom into Hotel Hive, an 83-key facility with rooms that top out at 250 square feet.

Valor is now proposing 11 units on the 6,120-square-foot fifth floor (556 square feet per), and 10 units on the 5,085-square-foot sixth floor (508 square feet per). While certainly small, the units in the “Penelope,” as Valor is calling its project, are significantly larger that D.C.’s typical micro-units. The project was designed by Alexandria-based ALine Architecture LLC.

The developer has returned to the BZA largely because 21 units triggers a requirement for additional parking spaces that Valor cannot, and will not, provide in the building’s existing eight-vehicle garage. It requires a variance to move forward.

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