OG 24-163

HPA number
HPA 24-192

1805 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
United States

D.C. Department of Buildings
Demolition of existing building; construction of nine row houses with ground floor retail
Review Type
Previous Review


No objection to the concept design for the demolition of an existing one-story building and the construction of a four-story building with ground-floor retail fronting Wisconsin Avenue, NW, and nine row house units facing an elevated internal courtyard, per supplemental materials received 16 April 2024. File design development submission at DOB with detailed and dimensioned drawings for review by the Commission.


Dear Mr. Chopivsky:

In its public meeting of 16 May conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design for the demolition of an existing one-story building and the construction of a new building containing row houses above ground-floor retail, to be located at 1805 Wisconsin Avenue, NW (case number OG 24-163). The Commission adopted the report of the Old Georgetown Board (OGB) and approved the concept design with the following comments. 

In their support of the OGB recommendation, the Commission members endorsed the proposed massing, character, and materiality of the new building complex, which would be composed of nine stucco-clad row houses surrounding an elevated interior mews, set on a base of retail and parking faced with precast ashlar stone. For the development of the design, they advised providing adequate soil depth for the planters set within the mews courtyard, observing that the proposed depth may only support shrubs or small flowering trees. They also expressed concern that the blank building walls on the north would be highly visible from Wisconsin Avenue for the foreseeable future, and they recommended the study of additional detailing to enhance their appearance. Finally, they suggested consideration of specifying triple-glazed windows, which would improve the project’s energy performance and provide sound insulation for the houses along the busy street corridor.

In its approval, the Commission delegated further review of the project to the Old Georgetown Board. Please coordinate the requested design development submission with the staff which, as always, is available to assist you.

/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Secretary George

Chopivsky, Managing Principal
1300 19th Street, NW, Suite 725
Washington, DC 20036

cc: Christian Zapatka, Christian Zapatka Architect|
Jonathan Mellon, Mellon Historic Preservation Consultants

Encl.: Report of the Old Georgetown Board, 16 May 2024


OG 24-163 (HPA 24-192)
1805 Wisconsin Avenue, NW (Square 1299, Lot 319)
Demolition of existing building; construction of nine rowhouses with ground floor retail Concept
(Reviewed in concept as OG 24-163: Mar, April, May 2024)

REPORT: The applicant, Fortis Companies, proposes to demolish a one-story masonry building and surface parking lot at the northeast corner of Wisconsin Avenue and S Street, NW, to construct a new building complex containing nine row houses with an interior mews and ground-floor retail and parking. The proposed four-story building is located at a topographically low point on Wisconsin Avenue, NW, as the street rises in elevation to the north and south. The streetscape context is primarily two- and three-story commercial buildings, with commercial buildings increasing in height toward Glover Park to the north. The four-story Dumbarton Oaks Fellowship House is directly across Wisconsin Avenue, and previous proposals for this redevelopment have used that building to establish the acceptable height. A row of generally three-story commercial buildings face Wisconsin Avenue to the south. The Jelleff Recreation Center, which comprises a building, athletic field, and parking lot, is directly behind the site on the east, with the Dumbarton Oaks main property beyond that; two-story houses line the south side of S Street. (A new building for Jelleff is currently under development and will be submitted for the Commission’s review in concept when approved by the Old Georgetown Board.)

The existing one-story masonry building was originally constructed as a Piggly Wiggly grocery store in 1933, and it was substantially modified between 1964 and 1977 with an addition to the south and the redesign of the front facade, resulting in the current Colonial Revival design. During its review of the previous proposal, the Old Georgetown Board (OGB) found that the existing building lacks historic integrity, particularly because of its mid-century alterations, and supported its demolition; the Board has again supported demolition as part of the project.

The current proposal is similar to the previous one in that the existing one-story building would be demolished and replaced with residential units and retail. However, while the previous design was a more conventional mixed-use flats or apartment house, the building typology proposed here is a hybrid that is not often seen in Georgetown: nine residences would be arranged around an elevated central courtyard–mews set above a parking level and accessible from an entrance on S Street. A continuous retail space with multiple entrances would be located along the avenue and at the corner. The residences would be four stories as seen from the street, including the ground-level retail and parking areas. While the characteristic features of residential row houses are seen on the three-story-high courtyard elevations, the outward-facing rears of the houses along the public way have their own Beaux-Arts or neoclassical character. The design is intended to mediate between the residential and commercial corridors of Georgetown through reference to the neighborhood’s historic building pattern of row houses.

At the OGB’s first review of the project in March 2024, the Board members expressed support for the novel mews typology, but requested that the applicant study the massing and height, particularly in relation to the streetscape, the Dumbarton Oaks Fellowship House to the south, and the previously approved multi-family building. They also requested study of the treatment of the corner element and the inflection of the facade as it follows the property line along S Street. A major issue discussed in multiple reviews of the project has been the proposed loggias facing Wisconsin Avenue, NW, as the OGB has not typically supported roof decks, balconies, or other elevated outdoor living spaces on Wisconsin Avenue north of M Street. Regarding the specific design of the loggias, the Board members found that they appeared more like voids that lacked architectural character, and they suggested additional columniation and verticality.

At the April 2024 review, the OGB provided additional comments regarding elements such as the loggias, which had been revised to have a more architecturally articulated appearance, treated more as projections than recesses through the addition of columns and alterations to the proportions of the openings. The Board members recommended a more recessive treatment for the loggias, as well as more refinement of the elevation details. At its 2 May 2024 meeting, the OGB reviewed and approved a third concept submission, finding the design to be responsive to its guidance, commenting that loggias were much improved, that the repositioning of the storefront awnings and creation of a continuous base had benefited the Wisconsin Avenue elevation, and that the S Street mews entrance had been revised to provide a better view into the interior courtyard. They also expressed support for the revised composition of the east facade, including details of the cornice, fenestration, and projecting bay.

In its recommendation of approval, the OGB requested review of the project at the design development phase with the refinement of several details, including: revising the roof plan of the loggias to be open to the sky with trellises; eliminating the downspouts running between each house; increasing the scale of the brackets of the projecting bay on the east facade; reducing the height of the roof above the corner and the loggia facing S Street; treating the mews entrance less monumentally; and extending the masonry cladding of the exterior of the building into the open-air passage at the mews entrance.