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Office building to become 33 new residential units at 1628 11th St., NW

The National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees building is being converted into residences.

The Fortis Companies has acquired the National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees (NAPFE) main office building at 1628 11th Street, NW and is planning to convert it into a mix of about 33 new residences. CBRE Investment Properties arranged the $5.5 million sale to the Fortis Companies, a D.C.-based real estate investment and development company.

The building, constructed in 1983, is currently "an underutilized asset in a very hot market," says Fortis President George Chopivsky; the property is located between the vibrant Logan Circle and U Street neighborhoods, which contain many popular new restaurants, shops, and multifamily residential buildings. According to CBRE Investment Properties, NAPFE is expected to relocate after a leaseback term of one year.

The Fortis Companies is planning a substantial expansion and renovation of the building's structure. "We are adding two levels to the building and then expect to convert it into a mix of duplexes and flats with outdoor gardens and terraces," says Chopivsky. However, it is not yet certain whether the units will be rentals or condos.  He adds that the property, taken as a whole, is close to 34,000 gross square feet in total size, considerably larger than has been reported elsewhere.

Additionally, the current building has two levels of below-grade space. The development plan calls for installing an "auto lift" (car elevator) like those often used in Europe and crowded U.S. cities, such as New York City and Chicago, to access below-grade parking. "A ramp just isn't feasible due to the footprint of the building," Chopivsky explains. Residents would use the lift to access the 21 parking spaces planned for the lowest level. The project will require zoning relief, primarily for this auto-lift feature.

Chopivsky says that the project was presented to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F Community Development Committee on September 25, and the project received "unanimous support." A presentation to the full ANC 2F contingent is scheduled for early October.

Construction is expected to start late in the summer of 2014, but the Fortis Companies has not yet selected an architect of record.

Read more articles by Jeanne Holden.

Jeanne is a freelance journalist with broad experience covering economics, transportation and development issues for clients ranging from consulting firms and think tanks to federal agencies such as the State Department and newsletters such as The Urban Transportation Monitor.  Before freelancing, Jeanne worked as a reporter, writer, and editor for the U.S. Information Agency, a federal agency that supported U.S. foreign policy through educational and information programs.
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