As I’ve gotten older, the “checklist” I have for every apartment, home, or real estate hunt has shifted ever so slightly. Now, instead of my only criteria being that it fits within my budget and doesn’t look like the ceiling fan will decapitate me when I’m least expecting it, I get to be a little bit pickier. I can hold out for something with exposed brick or that’s walkable to a hip bar where I can spend way too much money or a place where there’s a doorman dedicated to receiving my amazon prime packages promptly (and without judgment). Looking to some of DC’s latest developments, I’d probably even be prompted to hold out for an apartment that sits comfortably atop a Whole Foods, so I can buy organic cheese puffs and whole trade chocolate that I can’t afford at a moment’s notice. I’m talking of course, about a development nearby Howard University at 965 Florida Ave. NW: The Wren.
The Wren has finally achieved what many development projects only dream of; the project has broken ground, as reported by multiple news outlets, including Multi-Housing News, in early December. The plan that has been seemingly set into motion is for an almost 300,000 square foot development that will be mixed use. On the ground level will be a substantial-sized (over 43,000 square feet) Whole Foods. Above the health-conscious grocer will be 433 residential units, with 132 of those being qualified as affordable residential units.
The major players bringing this vision to life include MRP Realty, Ellis Development Group, and JPG Smith. The building comes with strong feelings about the potential for transformation in the neighborhood, which has been a focus for JBG Smith for a while now. Speaking to their motivation, Kai Reynolds, co-chief development officer, says:
“Participating in the neighborhood’s transformation from night-life driven to a hub for dining and retail has been remarkable. And now, with the addition of The Wren, even more people will have the opportunity to enjoy Shaw and call it home.”
Bob Murphy, the managing principal of MRP Realty, also echoes the sentiment that The Wren will be, first and foremost, about building community in the area. As quoted by Multi-Housing News,
“This development is not about building another apartment building, but about creating and contributing to a community. Mayor Bowser and Whole Foods have been critical in helping us achieve our vision for this project, and we’re looking forward to delivering it.”
The Wren comes at the beginning of a new chapter for DC developments. As we turn this new page, developments are being made with a new rule in mind. Specifically, 30 percent of residential units in new buildings built on land previously owned by the District must be affordable, meaning at the 30% and 50% AMI levels.
This project is coming to light after many ups and downs since the right to develop was granted back in 2013. For area residents though, the wait will be worth it. The project will also bring with it over 300 parking spaces, a fitness center, skybridge, courtyard, and rooftop pool. The projected finish will be sometime in 2020, so we can all start pinching pennies for those Whole Foods avocados now…