New Condos in Georgetown

November 7, 2013

While future condominiums’ designs are debated, here are some in and around town that are selling now or are about to be.

1045 Wisconsin Ave.
Developer: EastBanc has broken ground
Expected Completion: mid-2014.
Units: 8
Unit Sizes: 3,000 to 4,000 sq. ft. at the site on the Misc.: ground level retail, a green roof and below-grade parking

2251 Wisconsin Ave.
Developer: Altus Realty, Chesapeake Realty Partners and Ellisdale Construction
Expected Completion: Late 2014
Units: 81
Unit Sizes: Unknown
Misc: The $39-million project will revamp the building occupied by the Washington Sports Club and Glover Park Hardware and put up a second building on what is now a parking lot.

Adams Mason House
Expected Completion: Late 2013
Units: 10
Misc: One, two and three-bedroom condos, as well as approximately 3,500 square feet of office or retail space.
1072 Thomas Jefferson St., NW.

Foxhall Ridge
Developer: Duball LLC, Buvermo Properties and Stanley Martin Companies LLC
Expected Completion: Complete
Units: 34
Unit Sizes: 2,100 – 3,500 sq. ft.
Misc: Townhomes, $1.5M – $1.9M

MacArthur Boulvard between Foxhall Road and Q Street, NW.
Key Bridge Exxon Site
Developer: EastBanc
Expected Completion: TBD
Units: 35
Unit Sizes: 1,800 – 2,200 sq. ft.
Misc: The five-story building will be 50 feet tall with 72,000 sq. ft. of building area.

3601 M St., NW.
The Montrose
Developer: Argos Group
Expected Completion: Late 2013
Unit Sizes: 1,300 to 2,500 sq. ft.
Misc. $969,000 to $2.6 million
3050 R St., NW.


November 6, 2013

As I wound my car up the long driveway at Langley Ordinary, my tires crunched against the loose gravel, kicking up a small cloud of dust into the sunlight. I pulled up beside a porch of whitewashed pine that wrapped around a sprawling colonial home with an adjacent outdoor living area, stone fireplaces, a guesthouse, a vegetable garden and a wide lawn that rolled down a hillside, scattered with neat stacks of salvaged antique lumber waiting to be used on future construction projects.

Built in 1842 as a drovers rest, Langley Ordinary sits just north of Key Bridge in McLean, Virginia, and over the past 150 years it has been used as everything from a public meeting house to a command post for a Civil War Union general. This historic property is not a typical company headquarters—but owner Doug DeLuca and his business partner Matt Bronczek are not typical company men. When they bought Langley Ordinary just over two years ago, it was in a state of near desolation. They set about repurposing the property as a palette for their ambitious vision for historic home renovation and construction. They wanted to do more than build beautiful houses—they wanted to create warm, livable and sustainably built modern homes with an eye toward our collective American heritage.

A third-generation builder who grew up in Northern Virginia, DeLuca founded his flagship venture Federal Stone and Brick in 2001, crafting functional outdoor living spaces for Washington homeowners. Before starting his business, he spent five years in New York City, working at the Rhinelander Mansion, Ralph Lauren’s flagship store on Madison Avenue.

DeLuca is quick to give credit to his time at Ralph Lauren, where he worked under Mary Randolph Carter, now Lauren’s senior vice president of advertising. A fellow Virginian, Carter had a tremendous influence on the young DeLuca, instilling in him the value of lifestyle over any other tenet in the home design industry.

“Above branding, above all else, she taught me that it all comes back to lifestyle—understanding how people live,” he says. “When she was rolling out Ralph Lauren Country, she came into the store and gave everyone a copy of ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ to read over the weekend. She said that this was the way of life we are promoting.”

“It’s the idea of how you could ever be able to trust someone to design your kitchen if they don’t have an understanding of how to cook,” says Bronczek, who came onboard with Federal Company after working as a legislative correspondent on Capitol Hill and an account executive for FedEx.

DeLuca imagines himself in any space he is designing, and he has even been known to live in his unfinished houses during the construction phase to get a better understanding of how his clients will make use of it.

“This leaves open the opportunity to stay inspired during the construction process and face challenges and adjust details as they occur,” DeLuca says. The result, as exemplified by the Langley Ordinary estate, is a home built with the same love and attention that it will receive once it is inhabited.

As part of his design process, DeLuca makes a point to host dinners for clients in his home kitchen and theirs. “I went to Shabbat dinner with a Jewish family I was doing a kitchen for,” he says, “and it was eye-opening to see how a kosher kitchen is organized. Not only was I able to make a kitchen better suited to their needs, but it made me a better designer in the long run.”

His attention to beauty and function in kitchen design has not gone unnoticed. In 2007, he won a highly coveted award from Viking, the acclaimed American-made range and stovetop producers. He is now a featured designer for the company and is frequently retained to design Viking kitchens.

“Kitchens are particularly close to my heart because that’s where everything happens,” says DeLuca. “It’s the heart of a home—where you spend the most time with your family, cooking, telling stories and just building on your traditions. I was raised in the kitchen with my mom and grandmother—the recipes they taught me are still what I go back to when cooking with my clients. So, it’s important for me as a designer to make a distinction between a beautiful kitchen, and a beautiful functioning kitchen.”

DeLuca’s personal home has a unique feeling—a farmhouse atmosphere of historic Americana interwoven with highly textural and contemporary aesthetics, with zero molding and clean architectural lines. He has a tremendous reverence for light and functional space, reminiscent of the architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen, if he were designing such traditional spaces. His interiors and exteriors are not designed separately, but as harmonious counterparts, and the results are among the most nuanced and fully realized living spaces imaginable. They are strikingly modern homes that pay homage to the history of American craftsmanship, becoming a part, if not the forefront, of its evolution.

While working in New York, DeLuca spent countless weekends rummaging through flea markets and swap meets, a source of frequent inspiration to which his superior Carter frequently turned to keep the rugged American branding of Ralph Lauren looking fresh and interesting. Taking that practice to the next level, DeLuca has made salvaging reclaimed building materials a major component of Federal Company.

“My free time is all about traveling now, because there is so much to see and find,” he says. “I blog about design, food, independent businesses that I find, and basically anything that interests me across the country. I will try to go relax and just hang out on the beach, but I honestly have more fun waking up, jumping in my car and finding three small, family-owned businesses. And if I can get them a couple orders, then I’ve developed an opportunity to get unique products for myself, I’ve gotten them some work and I have promoted American small business.”

Over the last decade of traveling, DeLuca has also amassed a community of some 90 pickers who act as his eyes and ears around the country to seek out rare building components, wood, stone and other salvageable materials that he purchases and employs for his unique style of home building. Recently, they helped him find a 200-year-old oak barn in Michigan, from which they reclaimed wide antique planks for use as walls and flooring in a home library renovation.

“This is who we want to work with, and this is the kind of work we want to do to help carry the torch of traditional American small business and specialty craftsmanship,” says Bronczek. “Salvage businesses and family-run supply companies are dwindling communities because we are so used to going to some big-box corporate hardware store and buying whatever they have available, as opposed to exploring other options—unique or custom options better suited for our homes.”

DeLuca’s multifaceted interests and all-inclusive home design services have given Federal Company something of a multiple-personality disorder (though in keeping with American style and design), which makes it difficult to sum up in one sentence. Reclaimed America, one of their ventures, was born from DeLuca’s journeys through the American countryside, where salvaged wood and materials that he finds are repurposed to create harvest tables and other custom products. Susan Sarandon recently became the first owner of their new line of clutch bags, made from repurposed wood handles and vintage leather.

Meanwhile, Federal Home is the moniker for the company’s interior and exterior home design, while Federal Stone and Brick covers their comprehensive landscape and outdoor living services. “Having these three distinct components to our business gives us the ability to provide a 360-degree approach to our projects,” he says. “We can provide consistent and holistic design, from the front walkway to the back porch, and all the way down to the paint and the rugs.”

When asked if there is anything that he does not do, DeLuca replies unblinkingly: “No.”

He is on the board of the Washington Animal Rescue League and West End Cinema. He frequently donates his time and services to a number of societies and organizations around the Washington area, including Georgetown University’s Lombardi Cancer Center. His most recent project is called Urban Orchard, which aims to plant fruit-producing orchards in inner city neighborhoods.
Speaking with DeLuca, however, his multidisciplinary approach to life and business seems to coalesce rather naturally, and even simply. For him, it really comes down to love: his love of people, service, nature, small businesses, community and American heritage. And that is the secret to his success.

“Creating a home betters your life, and that’s what is really important to us,” he says from across his desk at Langley Ordinary, which is cluttered with personal snapshots of clients whom he simply calls his friends.

“I want to build things with integrity and with solid materials for people that I care about. I want to make something new and sustainable that’s infused with history. That can’t be confined to a singular business plan. It’s a way of life, and one that people deserve.”

Most recently, DeLuca and Bronczek’s Reclaimed America was nominated for the Martha Stewart American Made Award, which celebrates the American designer. Reclaimed America placed second out of 478 companies in a nationwide competition.
“It was an amazing experience for us,” DeLuca says. “We had no marketing or budget, no production warehouse. We just had our small carriage house, our reclaimed wood and our passion. Along the way, I traveled throughout the East Coast, meeting some amazing people who gave me hope in the future of our country, which I think I was able to return. If you ask me, that is winning.” [gallery ids="101536,150041,150044,150023,150027,150032,150037" nav="thumbs"]

Bill Dean: Georgetown’s Budding Philanthropreneur

August 15, 2013

The Dodge Mansion on P Street, although elegantly and imaginatively renovated by architect Dale Overmyer, is very old. It has the look of old Georgetown history and wealth about it. It is the kind of house, manse, mansion that ends up on the Georgetown House Tour, which it has been.

On the other hand, Bill Dean—the businessman who lives here by himself except for his two bounding dogs, Shredder and Splinter—looks brand new, shot out of the 21st-century entrepreneurial cannon, full of energy and enthusiasm, insouciant in a contemporary way.

Add to another side of him, the word “philanthropreneur” for Dean’s work with non-profits. It’s an all-too-new descriptor that seems to fit the bill. (Seriously, look it up.)

Fresh from an early morning business meeting and scheduled to head out late morning to Pittsburgh for a presentation on trolley cars, Dean is armed with charm, an iPad and an iPhone and ready to seat for a mid-morning interview and photo shoot with the Georgetowner.

Why today? Dean has signed on with the Citizens Association of Georgetown to be a patron and head booster of its 2012 Georgetown Gala, Putting on the Glitz, scheduled for Oct. 26 at the Embassy of the Russian Federation. Such a celebration, which is the group’s main fundraiser, needs planners, volunteers and donors with money.

If you google Dean by name, a couple of things come up right away, almost like warring images, which have already attached themselves to his name and reputation. There’s the single guy about town, most eligible bachelor cool guy who throws terrific parties at his mansion. There, he has been captured photographically leading the revel in the company of stunning women or hanging out with best bud Michael Saylor, another single entrepreneur, author and guru of the digital-cum-communications age, whose book, “The Mobile Wave,” is getting big buzz in the digital brainiac culture and is on the New York Times Best Seller list.
Right next to the party and social reports is what you might call the other Bill Dean—the president and CEO of M.C. Dean, Inc., a big contract and big client technology and electronics communication outfit headquartered in Dulles, Va., which describes itself as “the nation’s expert electrical design-build and systems integration firm for complex, mission-critical organizations.” When interviewed by, a government contracting sector news site, it headlined its article on the Georgetown businessmen: “Bill Dean, CEO of M.C. Dean, on his passion for workforce development and more.”

Of course, the contrast and dichotomy are obvious. It’s only natural to bring it up: playboy and party-hearty with work force development, competing interests that don’t seem to jive. “Yeah, I get that all the time,” Dean says, like Bryce Harper watching a curve hanging over the center of the plate. “I mean, sure, I’m single. I like to enjoy life. You’ve sort of got to. So, yeah, I throw parties or go to parties, and they’re fun. But they’re usually about something, the community, Georgetown, a good cause. It’s not incompatible with what I do, who I am or what I care about. It’s part of who I am.”

Looking at the party pictures, one might come to some conclusions about Dean, and those would be wrong. In conversation, he’s easy to talk with, well met, with a regular guy kind of demeanor, dressed casually, short hair, goatee—and with his dogs. You relax almost instantly, forget the house you’re in and the fact that Dean runs a billion dollar company with offices all over the country and the world from Baton Rouge to Ukraine.
He’s not out to impress you. He’s out to engage you. Dean is a man in tune—like a tuning fork—with the times he lives, plays and most expressly works in. He has an almost gleeful curiosity, a passion for the electrical impacts on life and people of electronics and communications, the new and shape-shifting digital world.

M.C. Dean, Inc. has a lot on its plate: there’s the big contract with the new Walter Reed Hospital, there’s the company foray into robotics, there’s the new offices in Louisiana and Texas—and there’s what everything means.

“People still don’t realize how instant, how small, everything has become,” Dean says. “It changes everything in life, the connectivity. People want to be more and more connected with more and more people and the latest information. It’s in a pad, in a phone. I understand the idea of print media, but you can see how technology has changed everything. I did it for a while. We had a regular newspaper in Loudoun County, and I liked it. But it’s just not that pragmatic a thing to do.”

As conversation flows into talk of technology as a game changer and wherever that might lead, we talk about a 60 Minutes episode on Steve Jobs. At that point, Dean jumps up from the couch, grabs his iPad and flips it open. “It’s right here, that show, that segment,” he says, as he taps on a link. There it is, the 60 Minutes segment from the night before, Jobs on a screen. “See, it’s instant, and it’s permanent, all at the same time,” he says. It seemed elementary, that thought. And it’s a big thought, too. Part of it is as ordinary as saving a file, but another part of it is magic.

Talking with a master of multitasking, who can go in a heartbeat from playing with his two dogs to explaining the presence of the keyboards by a big living room window and a friend who co-wrote the musical, “Memphis,” to his feelings about community and neighborhood and a swift aside to the Roman emperor Hadrian. “Memoirs of Hadrian” is one of his eclectic collection in the downstairs library, along with original Wizard of Oz books and “In Cold Blood”—little things tend to stick out (at least, they do to me.) No doubt, Dean has a lot of books on his Kindle, but he appears to like the presence of books.

“That’s amazing,” Dean says of the Truman Capote book. “For him to go out there to Kansas, get what he got and pull it together, it’s an amazing book.”

Dean—William H., formally on the bio—is the third Dean to head M.C. Dean. The first and founding Dean was Marion Caleb Dean, a World War II U.S. Navy veteran who started out working as an electrician in the shipyards and turned the skills and spirit of adventure into a career in electronics and electrical engineering, founding the company, which soon became adept at riding the technology advances of the second half of the 20th century and working with the government, especially the Department of Defense.

Besides running the founder’s company, and adding significantly to its wealth and enterprises, Dean got something else from his grandfather: a sense of place and neighborhood, the importance of community and a desire to be a part of the greater community in a big way.

“He grew up in the old U Street neighborhoods of Washington, went to Central High School [now Cardozo],” he says of his grandfather. “He loved the area, the city, and that’s what I love about Washington. I grew up in the suburbs, and you didn’t really have neighborhoods, the sense of place that we have in the neighborhoods of Washington.”

Georgetown, as a neighborhood, obviously agrees with him. He’s totally involved and says, “I’ve helped with Rose Park. I was on the House Tour, and I’m doing the 2012 gala with the Citizens Association of Georgetown because it’s a great group with involved, smart people who think about the community and its future. I love the sense of the past you get here—and the sense of the future with new people and kids.”

One of the articles about Dean talks about him as a CEO who cares. The company’s founder did that, too, creating an electrical apprenticeship program which still exists. Dean himself believes firmly in adding to the community by way of his business. It’s one of those ongoing commitments where you get, give back and it comes around again. We’re talking about work force training and creation, getting involved in education, creating opportunities for young people in other parts of town which might not have them.

“Education is the key to everything,” Dean says. “There are a lot of jobs in electronics, tech, engineering. And, in fact, there’s often not enough people with the training to fill them. You look for young people and students, who might not have seen the opportunities in school—but have the math or science skills and the talent but not the training.”

Dean serves on the D.C. Workforce Investment Council and the Virginia Apprenticeship Council. He has donated money for the Loudoun County Katrina Relief Fund, to the Child Rescue Centre in Sierra Leone by way of helping Children Worldwide. He has worked with the D.C. Center for Therapeutic Recreation, helped with construction needs of School Without Walls and continues to be involved in the apprenticeship program founded by his grandfather.

No doubt, too, there will be more Fourth of July and Halloween parties.

“Do I want children and a family?” he asks. “Sure, sure. You have to know when the time is right and the person is right.”

Right now, Bill Dean seems to like being Bill Dean, forward-looking entrepreneur, CEO, thinker and reader, and tinkerer and thinker. In his way, he is a man of his time and the time that’s coming just around the corner.
The doorbell rings.

It’s a group of Georgetown realtors and business folks arriving for a photo shoot, including developer Herb Miller. Patrons and sponsors involved with the Citizens Association’s Georgetown Gala are heading to the pool area.

The doorbell rings again. Shredder barks. The phone rings. They’re waiting at the airport. And it’s not yet noon.

Sponsors, patrons and volunteers met a few weeks ago at Bill Dean’s P Street home to prepare for the upcoming 2012 Georgetown Gala — Putting on the Glitz — to be held Oct. 26 at the Russian Embassy on Wisconsin Avenue.

The gala is the main fundraising event for the Citizens Association of Georgetown, the nonprofit which protects and promotes the oldest neighborhood in Washington, D.C. And thanks to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and his wife Natalia, it will again be at their nation’s embassy up the avenue. The evening will honor Pamela and Richard Hinds as “Champions of Historic Preservation and Guardians of Georgetown Public Safety.”

Along with cocktails, buffet, a live auction (items include that house in France, apartment in Florence or spa in Mexico) and gaming tables, oh yes, there will be dancing. This time to the sounds of Big Ray and the Kool Kats. Cutting up with the movers and shakers, the evening’s fun always generates buzz, especially when it persuades the Mayor of Washington to dance with a boa and in the conga line.

Such an undertaking requires hefty support from residents, businesses and other planners and players around town. There are people to meet and money to match. Georgetown is blessed to have such a fellowship of givers, young and old, who always show up to help and are as tried and true as the day is long.

This year’s list of supporters and sponsors begins with three U.S. senators (Roy Blunt, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman) and their wives (Abigail, Teresa and Hadassah, respectively), a university president (Jack DeGioia of Georgetown), a chief of protocol (Selwa “Lucky” Roosevelt), a techie CEO (Mark Ein) and master architect (Hugh Jacobsen). Impressive. All right, they are honorary chairs, who are nevertheless quite effective in helping with the invitations.

As for the really big sponsors, they include “Community Pillars,” namely, Long & Foster, Exclusive Affiliate of Christie’s International and Angelo, Gordon & Co. and Vornado Realty Trust (on behalf of the Shops at Georgetown Park).

Add to that patrons Nancy Taylor Bubes (Washington Fine Properties), Georgetown University, Jamestown Properties, the Levy Group, M.C. Dean, Inc., MRP Realty and Western Development Corporation.

Now, we’re cooking. But, wait, there’s more: Beasley Real Estate, Gregg Busch (First Savings Mortgage Corporation), EastBanc Technologies, LLC, Georgetown University Hospital, PNC Bank and Securitas Security Services USA, Inc.

There are even more involved, whether it is Clyde’s Restaurant Group, EagleBank or, even, this newspaper and its media group.

This year’s gala co-chairs include Nancy Taylor and Alan Bubes, Michele and Jack Evans and Patrice and Herb Miller, assisted by a slew of neighborhood friends and influencers. Stay tuned for updates in the few weeks ahead.

Party Activist Photo Credits below:
Front row: Herb Miller, board chairman and CEO, Western Development Corp.; Jennifer Altemus, president, the Citizens Association of Georgetown; Bill Dean, CEO, M.C. Dean, Inc.

Middle row: Stacy Berman, manager, Long & Foster Georgetown office; Nancy Taylor Bubes, Washington Fine Properties.

Back row: Jim Bell, founder and managing partner, Beasley Real Estate; Gregg Busch, loan officer, First Savings Mortgage; Paul Foster, senior vice president and regional manager, Long & Foster Real Estate. [gallery ids="102471,120617,120608,120605" nav="thumbs"]

The Beauty is in the Details, The Architecture of Gil Schafer

June 18, 2013

“We live differently today in terms of lifestyle, what people do, family arrangements, than in the past.”

We were talking with the highly in-demand architect Gil Schafer III about “The Great American House,” his Rizzoli published book, subtitled “Tradition for the Way We Live Now.” It is sumptuously beau¬tiful, demonstrating his philosophy and penchant for creating, restoring and building homes and structures right on the spot where history walks through the door, hand in hand with the contem¬porary and with an eye toward the future.

He was driving toward upstate New York at the time, and the tone was conversational and philosophical. From a man who has collected numerous awards and attention for his work after over 20 years as an architect, his journey to suc¬cess seemed almost pre-determined, if only for the fact that he comes from three generations of architects, plus “my parents (who were not archi¬tects) were always building stuff, making things. so I can say I came by my lot naturally.”

But there was more to it than that: the book and the vocation comes from living in numer¬ous places in different parts of the country. “My grandmother had a dark old house in Cleveland, where my brother and I spent time that I still cher¬ish,” he says. “I lived on a farm upstate New York in the Hudson River Valley and also spent a time in California by the beach.”

You can find much of this reflected in the kinds of projects his firm takes on from small things like stables or sheds, to large houses in the country or renovated apartments in Greenwich Village, to island homes. You can see all of this too, and especially in the dramatic, revealing photographs in the book, which give you a seri¬ous case of the wants and desires. While devoid of people, it seems full of a kind of dossier about people, information about the emotional and his¬torical environment in which people want to live.

When he talks, or if you read about his lec¬tures or the commentary and essays in the book, or the content of interviews in major like magazines like “Veranda,” “Town and Country” or “Manner of Man,” as well as the Architectural Digest or the New York Times, some common themes can be found. They arch around the ideas that arise from the tensions that exist naturally (in art as well as in architecture) between tradition and the modern, the historical and the contemporary. Not surprisingly, he has a reputation for being a stylish dresser. Details, those lying in the framework of the big ideas, matter.

He handles the language of architecture and expands it by mixing it with the familiar you’ll find lots of common usage architectural terms in the text and commentary of the book. But the writ¬ing maintains a conversational tone, inviting the reader in much the same way that he talks about such things. For the uninitiated or inexpert, this makes his work and ideas accessible not only to his clients but also to the casual visitor.

“You have to think about how people live today,” he says. “We live differently today in terms of lifestyle, what people do, family arrange¬ments, than in the past. When you’re renovating a large house, for instance, you can see certain spaces the small kitchens, the spaces where the butlers and servants worked, that kind of thing, which are either larger today, or don’t even exist anymore. We live differently today, but we can’t dismiss the attraction and endur¬ance of the past.”

Put another way, what we try to, he said and it’s also one of the themes of the book is to “retain the well-loved proportions, details and character of a traditional house while balancing holistically with the needs of our twenty-first century lifestyle.” He also writes about the “interior architecture and the fabrics, furniture and wall treatments, and how “the landscape surrounding the home must relate to its overall design”

“The Great American House” is Schafer’s first book, although in terms of the writing (with Mark Kristal) it doesn’t feel that way. It is about architecture, by a noted architect, to be sure, but it never seems so technical as to escape the boundaries, energy, and rhythms of daily life. This is perhaps the point.

The book is structured around three ideas and themes, with four projects and homes serving as dramatic, astonishingly beautiful profiles and illustrations of the themes. In the book, the cornerstones of a great traditional house are architecture, landscape and decoration.

One of the profiles includes Schafer’s home in the Hudson Valley, a bucolic, artistically historic setting, as well as the process involved in the design of a “new” farming estate for a young family, the renovation of a historic home in Nashville, originally designed by Charles Platt, and the restoration of an 1843 mansion in Charleston, South Carolina.

Home is where the heart is, but also where the heart was it’s about bringing the past forward, letting it breathe in the here and now, renewing itself in new atmospheres.

When he talks about his grandmother’s house, he talks in some detail how it felt at night, the land, the light, the way he could travel easily around the house as a boy and the dramatic fact that the house was pink. “It was pink,” he said. “It stood out. It had that vivid color. It was a wonderful thing to see.”

In the book, the writer remembers more. “At Melrose, there were all sorts of charm at work. The old horseshoe over the front door placed there for luck, an intriguing doorknob with the face of a man on it, a beat-up bronze bucket, overflowing with cut branches, an old leather satchel with the name Melrose on it filled daily with mail.”

These memories are inspirations for Schafer, because, as he says, “They inspired me to enter the family trade, so to speak.”

But they also find their way into the proj¬ects of his firms, his collaborations, his focus on how his clients live, what they want, and their taste in objects. The motto of his firm, G.P. Schafer Architect, PLLC, is “Creating places that enhance the enjoyment of life.” That’s probably an oversimplification, because the beauty is in the details.

In the book, you can find the details in Schafer’s accessible essays and writing style, as well as in the photographs. Schafer loves not just furniture, but furnishings, those extra details that are tactile in nature: the color of burnished wood, brass knobs, light and lamps. It’s all there in a full-page photograph of the doors on his Greewich Village apartment, fea¬turing brass rim locks with cobalt glass knobs and traditional wood graining. This description doesn’t encompass the feeling that this photo¬graph like almost all of the photographs in the book give off. That sun-baked deep brown stain of the door, the key in the look, the gold of the latches. The frame is a portrait not just of something but of someone.

There are some things you might remem¬ber from the photographs, even though you have never seen them. You remember rooms opening to the sun, thin chairs with decorated cushions, ceiling fans, staircases that make you a little dizzy with their elegance, a Greek bust in a bathroom, plush easy chairs, flowers, a ladder for a book case, gates overrun with ivy, well-worn but orderly books. With Schafer’s designs, you never feel as though you are step¬ping into a museum. You can sense that people live here, come up the driveway through the gate, stride through the rooms, open an elon¬gated, white-framed window and look out at an American landscape.

It is thus natural that Schafer should be who he is: his whole life revolves around his design, his collaborations, his office, the apartment, the Hudson home, the current and ongoing proj¬ects. He is one of those people blessed by doing what he loves. “It’s funny,” he says. “This is not just my work. It’s what I do, period. It’s all the travel, the buying, the scouting, the antiquing, of course, but the end results are the homes, and the best thing is working with the clients.”

When you listen to Schafer who studied at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges and has a master’s degree in architecture from Yale, where he received the H.I. Feldman Prize, you realize he is talking about his own memories, homes he’s lived in and been a part of. They are at his fingertips, and the ideas make them tingle. He is a good memory keeper for himself and others. As he writes, “If a house is going to feel like a home, it has to create opportunities for memories, even in the small¬est moments of life.”
[gallery ids="101337,152030,152026,152020,152017,152040,152011,152043,152046,152035" nav="thumbs"]

Developer fails to follow his own rules

Kay, what can be done when the developer, prior to the HOA taking over, fails to enforce the Declaration of Covenants or go after people who are behind in paying their quarterly fees? — O.T., Florida

Dear O.T.: Unfortunately, developers can leave behind a number of problems when the association is turned over to the owners. Your question is one of the most frequent ones, along with those about construction issues.

To understand how the problem is solved, we have to go back to the basics. The developer creates the governing documents. As soon as the declaration and bylaws are recorded, the association is legally established. The developer is the owner of all the lots, and he serves as the initial board of directors.

The Declaration establishes the number of lots in the association and requires that every owner must pay his share of the association’s assessments. Since the developer initially owns all of the lots, he must pay all of the fees. As lots are sold, the developer’s obligation diminishes until the day when the last lot is sold, at which time the developer is no longer obligated.

The developer is also the initial board of directors. He can make up, amend, or eliminate rules at will. He can choose to follow the restrictions himself and see that new owners do the same, or he can choose to do neither. He can raise or lower the assessments, and he can choose to enforce or not to enforce the governing documents.

Here are a few suggestions for your Board to consider:

+ After establishing who is delinquent and how much is owed, the Board can begin collection action. They must make sure they have a collection policy that starts with the first notification to the owner all the way through foreclosure. If there is no policy, the board should approve one and notify all owners prior to starting collection action.
+ The Board should establish a rule enforcement policy, if it doesn’t already exist. It should state what action will be taken for each type of violation. Conduct violations should be stopped immediately. Architectural ones can also be stopped immediately or grandfathered until the unit is sold. Then the seller must restore the property to its original state prior to the sale. Pet and leasing violations can be grandfathered and then stopped when the new owner takes possession.
+ The collection and enforcement policies should be reviewed by an attorney prior to the Board’s enforcement of them. Once enacted, the Board must be sure to consistently enforce both policies.

Kay Senay is the author of “Condo Buying & Ownership Made Simple: Tips To Save Time & Money.” Visit her website at for free tip sheets. Her book can be purchased from Amazon.

State of the District’s Commercial Financing Real Estate Market

If you are a commercial property owner today looking for loan, good luck! Put lightly, today’s commercial lending environment would be described as difficult. There are several challenges landlords face in underwriting. One primary challenge has to do with their ability to repay the debt. Simply having a tenant, or evidence of income in owner occupied properties, is no longer enough. Lenders are skittish, and they have good reason to be — very few deals these days are all cash, and the vast majority of transactions require financing. Loans are underwritten today in a vastly different way than they have been in the past. Larger down payments, pristine credit, significant cash reserves, and an impressive track record of loan payment are examples of the highly scrutinized underwriting changes in the market place. Equally important as the repayment of debt is the secured amount of assets a borrower pledges in the event of default. As one lender told me recently, “In a loan committee we ask not if, but when, a loan will have problems.” To hedge their risk, banks are requiring huge amounts of security and reserve funds so the lender can be reassured when the tenant or owner struggles, they can still make payments to the bank for a certain period of time.

Most banks prefer to lend to owner-occupied properties versus investment properties. As a result, loan terms and underwriting can be more favorable for the owner occupants. Another area of financing that has become increasingly scrutinized is credit. Banks want tenants and borrowers with sterling credit. A borrower or tenant with less-than-excellent credit is problematic. And the rules on this have changed for everyone. The companies in the past who were considered to have high credit, low default risk and reputations for paying rent on time are looked at and underwritten more diligently today. Gone are the days of showing a lender a lease with a tenant like American Eagle, Gap, Pottery Barn or Ralph Lauren and being guaranteed a loan. The once impeccable reputation and credit of traditionally stable tenants has diminished. Same goes for the owners and borrowers themselves. As the market has worsened, so have many of the relationships between lenders and their clientele. The concept of relationship banking seems to be a thing of the past.

Recently, I assisted a client with refinancing their commercial property and we approached their current lender with what we believed were favorable borrowing terms, i.e. good credit, decent income, and plenty of equity in the property. My client’s lender refused to even entertain the borrower after an almost 20-year relationship. Compounding things for borrowers is the fact there are fewer banks lending today. Many banks have either closed, been absorbed or bogged down with government regulators due to their participation in TARP. Lenders are distracted either cleaning up their toxic commercial loans or auditing their books to ensure their next visit from the Feds runs smoother than the last. This added layer of scrutiny requires tremendous resources from the banks — resources that would be better served originating, facilitating and closing of loans in their systems. Perhaps the most onerous change put on borrowers today in underwriting has been the loan-to-value (LTV) amount. This is the figure that represents the percentage of a property’s value a bank is willing to lend a borrower. Historically, LTV values for commercial real estate properties have been in 80 to 90 percent range. Today the maximum is generally 75 percent for owner-occupied properties (unless you qualify for an SBA loan) and perhaps only 60 to 70 percent for investment properties. This is a particularly tough change if the borrower’s money for the down payment had been in the stock market, or even worse, equity in another piece of real estate. It is likely the values of those stocks, real estate, or other equities have decreased.

Undoubtedly, the rules of the game have changed and navigating through the process, at lease in the short term, appear to be getting not any easier.

O’Neill Realty Advisors, LLC is a full service commercial real estate brokerage and advisory company focusing on Georgetown and upper Northwest D.C. Contact Andrew O’Neill at 202-741-9405 or

Two New Faces at WFP Georgetown


-Washington Fine Properties announced this month that TTR/Sotheby’s veterans Kimberly Casey and Daryl Judy have joined the firm. In a statement, the Glover Park-based realtor said it was “delighted that they have decided to join our team at WFP.” Casey and Judy have been the top producing team at TTR/Sotheby’s for a number of years, and have developed a reputation for working hard, listening well, knowing the market thoroughly and making sure their clients are completely satisfied.

They are licensed across all three jurisdictions and will be working out of the Georgetown Office. Kimberly can be reached at or 202-361-3228. Daryl can be reached at or 202-380-7219.

Key Bridge Exxon Condo Design Admonished by Neighborhood

EastBanc presented its revised design for a high-end condo complex at 3601-3607 M Street (the gas station property next to the Exorcist stairs) during the April 4 meeting of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E.

Jack Davies, philanthropist, AOL International founder, co-owner of the Washington Capitals and Wizards, lives on the 3600 block of Prospect Street and spoke about the proposed condo’s height on behalf of his neighbors and himself. “The revised proposal does not address neighbors’ concerns.” The backyards of Prospect Street look out towards the C&O Canal, Key Bridge, the Potomac and beyond. “People in the pool on the roof would be a disruption,” Davies said. “This will lower property values.” Davies called for the condo height to be capped at 40 feet and four floors instead of the proposed five floors.

Georgetown architect Robert Bell, designer of the Volta Place police station condos, called the design “Marriott-hotel quality.” For such a signature site, he said, “It’s a shame that Georgetown does not have a stronger stand for historic contexts.”

As for history, the 19th-century stone wall on the 3600 block of M Street would be hidden behind the five-floor building, seen only from the narrow space at the Exorcist stairs between the Car Barn and the future condo.

EastBanc’s Mary Mottershead showed drawings of a green roof as high as the top of the wall and said that she considered the view from Prospect Street only slightly obstructed. The condo will contain 35 to 37 units.

The property is owned by DC gas station king, Joe Mamo, who also owns Parker’s Exxon on MacArthur Boulevard, Georgetown Exxon at Q Street and the Watergate Exxon. Key Bridge Exxon will close by the end of July 2012.

In a related action, the ANC approved EastBanc’s redesign for 1045 Wisconsin Avenue: condos at the C&O Canal to be built in the parking lot of the Verizon building across from Grace Church.

AIA-DC Celebrates 125th Anniversary

On Nov. 2, AIA-DC celebrated its 125th anniversary with a party and award ceremony at its offices at 421 7th St., NW. The Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects is a professional organization for architects that was founded in 1887 by Glenn Brown. Brown is known among architects for works around the District, and Georgetowners are probably familiar with his work here. Brown was the architect of the Dumbarton Bridge, which, flanked by bison statues, brings Q St. from Dupont Circle into Georgetown.

Anyone who has visited a D.C. Zoning Board meeting knows how important architectural details can be to people, but Washington was a very different place in 1887. AIA-DC’s executive director Mary Fitch described how little planning went into the design of the late 19th-century District.

“Washington and the mall don’t look like they did in the 1900s,” said Fitch. “It had a very different look. We had train tracks across the mall, a big market where the monuments are.”

Today, with a new home and educational programs for both architects and members of the community, AIA-DC’s goal, as Myer puts it, is to “try to get more people involved in the architectural scene in D.C.”

“The first chapter had 70 architectural firms listed in Washington in 1892,” said Fitch. “Now there are many, many more than that. We have about 2,100 members now.”

“There are certainly a lot of associations are inwardly focused on their members,” said Fitch. “One of the big differences about our chapter is that, over the last few years, we have created an outward focus. We have moved into this new center which has a very public purpose.”

A recent architectural issue in Washington, D.C., has been questioning about the District’s unique height-limit law.

“We’re in on that discussion,” said Fitch. “We don’t have a position at this time. We’re talking about whether that is an option or an opportunity or not.”

“The subject has just been put on the table, so nobody has really had a chance to think about it carefully.”

At AIA-DC’s anniversary party on Nov. 2, things were a little more collegial. Myer showed up to assist in emceeing the event dressed as Glenn Brown himself.

“He looked like he was from the 1890s. So, it was very cute,” said Fitch. [gallery ids="101063,137121,137102,137116,137108,137114" nav="thumbs"]

Henry Adams: a Literary Life at Lafayette Square

Washington, D.C., used to be a smaller town than it is now, especially when Henry Adams moved to the District in 1877 and settled near Lafayette Square. In his biography “The Education of Henry Adams,” Adams wrote that “Beyond the square the country began … no literary or scientific man, no artist ever lived here. It was rural and its society was primitive. … The happy village was innocent of a club. … The value of real estate had not increased since 1800, and the pavements were more impassable than the mud. … All this favored a young man who had come to make a name for himself.” Adams must have enjoyed residing in Lafayette Square because he
lived there until his death in 1918.

Henry Adams already had a “name for himself,” given he was the great-grandson of President John Adams and the grandson of President John Quincy Adams. He grew up in patrician surroundings in Boston, where he met and married heiress, Marian “Clover” Hooper, and the couple moved to Washington, D.C. Their friends, Clara and John Hay, who had been secretary to President Lincoln, lived on the square, and the four became good friends.

The Hays and Adams commissioned their friend and architect, H.H. Richardson, to build a semi-detached mansion for them, where they could expand their influential salon. Henry Adams wrote history books and novels, and Clover was an accomplished writer and photographer. When Clover’s father died, she fell into a deep depression, and committed suicide. When the great house was finished, Henry Adams moved into his side of the mansion alone, and soon began traveling and spending much of his time abroad. He continued writing as well as traveling, and entertaining when he was in Washington. In memory of his wife, he commissioned Augustus Saint-Gaudens to create a sculpture for her tomb in Rock Creek Park.

Adams lived and reigned in his home, receiving guests earlier in the day, at breakfast and lunch, as he got older. He had a stroke in April 1912.

Henry Adams never remarried and never again mentioned Clover’s name after her death. The mansion he shared with the Hays was torn down after he died to be replaced by the Hay-Adams Hotel. Henry and Clover are buried next to each other in graves with no inscriptions, only the dramatic Saint-Gaudens statue standing guard over them. The statue also doesn’t have a name, but it has been dubbed “Grief” by the public, because it personifies the emotion so perfectly.