Work has begun on the transformation of the former Italian Embassy in Adams Morgan-Columbia Heights into more than 100 residential units. Although construction of the project, called The Flats at Il Palazzo, is not scheduled until winter of 2015 at the earliest, Michael Beidler, principal of Trout Design Studio, says that some exterior demolition and site work and some interior demolition are underway.
“The plan has not changed from the original [residential] program. But it has evolved and is in the process for the building permit from DCRA,” he says.
Architects from Trout Design Studio are collaborating with developer Potomac Construction Group on the reuse of the historic property at 2700 16th Street NW.
Zoning on the property allows for from 110 to as many as 130 condo units. Plans call for both upscale and smaller, more affordable units, as well as underground parking. Beidler says it is too early to know how many of each type of unit will be built. “That will be determined by the marketing department,” he says.
The embassy faces 16th Street. “Because of the scale of the space, the larger, luxury units will go primarily in the embassy,” says Beidler.
“But they will also be scattered among the other buildings, especially the upper floors of the tower, which will have spectacular views and terraces.”
Those "other buildings" include the chancery, facing Fuller Street, and a yet-to-be-built eight-story tower on the northwest corner and a three-story structure between the embassy and the tower.
The former embassy, a neo-Renaissance style building, is a District of Columbia-designated historic landmark.
The redevelopment of the embassy has been talked about for decades. The hang-up was devising a plan that met historic preservation approval, according to Beidler. In 2011, the developer received approval from the District’s zoning commission and Historic Preservation Review Board for Beidler’s plan.
“We designed a plan that met with approval within six months” of submission, says Beidler. The developer then had to obtain financing for a project he has heard runs in the $40 to $60 million range.