The Apollo's three-story lounge and lobby is open to the public until 10:00 PM each evening.
Max Kun Zhang The Apollo's three-story lounge and lobby is open to the public until 10:00 PM each evening.

From the outside, The Wydown Coffee Bar in Washington, D.C., appears to be cozy and compact. But once inside, you’ll find the space is not as small as the storefront suggests.

The coffee shop opens up into the Apollo’s lobby, a three-story lounge with a winding, angular staircase and railing that draws the eye upward. Cafe patrons, residents of the Apollo’s 431 luxury apartments, and members of the local community are all welcome to sit, work, and relax here.

“It was important to us to bring people in, rather than just drop this big 400-foot-long building in the middle of the neighborhood and not allow the existing community to interact with it,” says Maury Stern, partner at Insight Property Group, the project's developer.

Good Neighbors
Given the size and prominence of the Apollo’s parcel, which takes up a block of the revitalized H Street Corridor, Insight Property Group was careful not to overlook the needs of the area’s current residents and shop owners. In over 90 public meetings, the developer worked with two advisory neighborhood commissions to create a holistic vision for the property.

The project’s main retail anchors are Whole Foods and WeWork, a coworking space. Local businesses line the street, including a bookstore, vegan restaurant, and bike shop.

“What’s made H Street special over time has been its collection of local boutique D.C. retailers. The community wants to keep that context and fabric alive, and they really want the building to continue that story,” says Trent Smith, partner at Insight Property Group.

Much of the neighborhood feel stems from the lobby area, which is open to the public until 10 p.m. most days. Designed by D.C.-based Edit Lab at Streetsense, the lobby and elevator banks recall the Art Deco stylings of the property’s former Apollo Theater with angular aesthetics and handmade tile floors. Businesses host events in the lobby, and it’s also an exhibition space for Art Enables, which supports developmentally disabled artists.

“This is the de facto living room for H Street right now,” Smith says of the lobby. “There aren’t a lot of these public domain spaces that have some scale.”

Building Community
Units at the Apollo range in size from studios to three-bedroom apartments, with rents starting at $1,850. Amenities include a shared guest suite, a gym with a private studio and boxing area, a dog wash and dog run, bike storage, and a lending library of cookbooks and tools. The rooftop features a conservatory event space with a green roof and clubhouse. The east rooftop offers four grilling stations and a movie projector; the west rooftop has a two-tiered outdoor pool and fireplace.

The $125 million project seeks LEED Gold certification for its green roof, garden plots for both residents and retailers, energy- and water-efficient fixtures, and an on-site transportation coordinator, who helps residents navigate the city's public transportation options.

While upcoming projects will be different in scope and purpose, the developer plans to incorporate the same level of involvement and input as with the Apollo. “The community connection is something that we’re hyper-focused on,” Smith says. “We’re concerned about bringing the outside in, making sure that we’re a good partner to our neighbors."

The new residents—as well as longtime area neighbors—are pleased with the result.

“When we talk to all the people that we were working with many years ago in the entitlement, when we see them now they stop us in our tracks and are so grateful,” Smith says.

For a look at other standout mixed-use communities, read more.