Foggy Bottom getting new residents

Area residents are enthusiastic at the prospect of seeing their tax burden decrease by millions of dollars from the construction of two apartment buildings set to bring 500 residents to Foggy Bottom by 2007.

Ronald Cocome, president of the Foggy Bottom Association, said he was unsure of how far the new complexes would go to relieve the burden but said that the figure was in the “millions of dollars.”

“The tax burden in this town is now the highest in the nation,” he said.

Cocome said GW’s growth has increased the tax rates of area residents. As the number of permanent Foggy Bottom residents decreases, the property taxes of those who remain increase, he said.

A luxury complex, known as the Exxon Condominiums, is under construction adjacent to the Exxon gas station at the corner of 22nd and M streets. The building, formally called the “X on West,” will contain 95 units and house more than 150 residents, said project manager John Nammack of the firm Shalom Baranes Associates. The units range in price from $600,000 to more than $2 million.

The Columbia Condominiums, to be located on L Street between 24th and 25th streets, is being built on the former site of the Columbia Hospital for Women. The old hospital is being renovated and expanded to make way for a 350,000-square-foot building, said Price, who oversaw the approval of the project.

Members of community groups, who have long accused GW of destroying Foggy Bottom’s residential character, said the buildings will be positive for the neighborhood.

“The community has worked very hard to get neighborhood-serving retail and residential property,” said Richard Price, a member of the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, which makes zoning recommendations to the city. “We want our neighborhood to look more residential and not like a campus or an office park.”

Cocome said his organization lobbied heavily with the city for the approval of the Columbia project’s rezoning and construction permits.

“It was one of the few developments that we wanted to have happen (in Foggy Bottom) in the last five or six years,” he said.

In September, the project’s developer, the Trammell Crow Company, paid the Foggy Bottom Association $2.4 million for use of the historic land previously zoned for hospital use only. Trammell Crow was upholding an agreement between the FBA and the site’s previous owners to donate money to the neighborhood group.

Cocome said the Columbia complex is scheduled to open in the spring of 2006. It will contain 223 units, a Trader Joe’s supermarket and may also include a hardware store, a bank, a bakery and a coffee shop.

The 270,000-square foot Exxon complex will feature an exterior of zinc and glass, a design that Nammack said will make the structure unique and reinforce the condominium’s upscale appeal. It will be located across the street from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and will be visible from The Aston. It should be complete by 2007.

“We believe that a healthy, vibrant residential community can live with a healthy, vibrant campus,” Cocome said, citing Georgetown as a model of how a university and a residential community can coexist.

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