In constructing Station Place, its trio of office buildings by Union Square in the H Street Corridor of Washington, D.C., Fisher Brothers, a private real estate firm in New York City, recognized a void in the area for a large-scale, multifamily dwelling. It found a parking lot for sale, bought up adjacent townhouses, and planned for the assembled, half-city-plus block to become a swank, multilevel condominium. “The area was on the precipice of change and offered a great location near Capitol Hill,” says Winston Fisher, partner.
By the time the firm gained approvals and the recession had ended, however, a luxury rental seemed a smarter choice. Two years after breaking ground in 2013, Station House at 701 2nd Street NE has delivered what the neighborhood wanted: a striking, modern building.
Fisher Brothers follows a mantra of hiring the best experts in each development discipline. It partnered with Mack-Cali, a publicly traded REIT from Edison, N.J., to take an equity stake. Mack-Cali's subsidiary Short Hills, N.J.-based Roseland manages the property. “We wanted to grow our multifamily locations down to D.C.,” says Andrew Marshall, Roseland’s executive vice president of development.
Two architecture firms were also brought on board: Handel Associates from New York City, to reconfigure plans for a rental; and Hickok Cole Architects from D.C., as architect of record.
To attract the anticipated millennial demographic, Fisher Brothers studied how the cohort lives. “We knew we needed large spaces for socializing but also pockets of intimacy,” Fisher says. To achieve a balance, the firm hired cross-disciplinary expert and New York City–based Rockwell Group for design and space planning.
While the building targets millennials, it also was designed to appeal to empty-nesters returning to the city. To suit these two cohorts’ varied needs, the apartments range from studios to three-bedrooms, with 415 to 1,650 square feet and rents from $1,750 to $6,000. More than 90 plans are available.
Within the units, the look is the favored open-style loft, with high-end hickory floors, gray subway tiles laid vertically, quartz countertops, movable kitchen islands, and big windows, some facing the Capitol. In public spaces, Thom Forsyth, senior interior designer at Rockwell, displayed his firm’s hip signature style with blackened steel, brass, reclaimed wood, and concrete materials and a jewel-tone palette.
Residential corridors were carpeted in a cherry blossom design to pay homage to the nation’s famous trees. Forsyth also commissioned handcrafted furniture for greater personalization, designed a library wall to camouflage the mail room, and used marble at the concierge desk. The overall feeling: like a very cool and welcoming hotel.
Fitness centers, swimming pools, bicycle storage and repair shops, and dog parks with grooming stations have become expected, so developers keep upping the ante to compete in the “amenity arms race,” says Marshall. Here, the emphasis is on food activities, with a community garden atop one roof, a 20-foot-long harvest table for produce to be set out, and a demonstration and tasting kitchen for area chefs.
Forsyth also introduced a terrarium theme, with oversized models in the lobby—one 43½ feet long, and others throughout the residential corridors. Altogether, the amenity package totals more than 20,000 square feet. “We wanted people to come home from work and enjoy a dynamic lifestyle with lots going on in the lobby, two courtyards, and three separate rooftops,” Marshall says.
With most of the work on the development having been completed in March, tenants began moving in to the 275 finished units; the remainder will be done by summer. Designed to earn LEED Silver certification, the building features energy-efficient appliances, fixtures, and lighting. Ryan Raica of BOLD (Brian Orter Lighting Design) in New York City used LEDs, dimmers, and occupancy sensors and softened the ambience with warm light temperatures and mood lighting.
Landscape design became another green component. Project designer and landscape architect Chris McFarlane of Landworks in Boston installed cisterns to capture rainwater; improved the streetscape with multilevel plantings; landscaped the courtyards; and designed roofs for the community garden, dining terrace, pool deck, and dog park.
Station House has
sparked a noticeable change in the neighborhood. “A Giant [grocery store] and
Whole Foods are going in, but townhouses are being preserved [too]. It’s a nice
blend of development and preservation,” Fisher says. “The area has gained its
own hip identity.”