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Economical Design Creates Value and Drives Financial Success for Client

Project Details:

Client Challenge

Douglas Development Corporation is well-established as one of the most visible and successful real estate developers in the Washington DC Metropolitan area. In 2017, the developer came to Finley Design with a new residential project for market-rate housing in the Capital Heights area of DC.

The challenge was to design an affordable mid-rise, HUD-financed apartment project that achieves maximum density on a sloping site. With HUD financed projects, buildings that are over four stories are required to use union labor. Finley Design would need to get creative to maximize the property without exceeding the four story limit while keeping costs within HUD boundaries. 

Additionally, in 2021, the DC area was not immune to COVID-related labor and material shortages. Construction costs were higher than usual.

Our Approach

Finley Design’s standard approach to focus on  economical design from the beginning of every project proved to be extremely valuable in avoiding cost overruns.  

The sloping site combined with the four-story limit required the design team to think in an innovative way to achieve a four-story building with efficient circulation. By creating a step of a full story in each building at the midpoint of the slope, we were able to keep the buildings at four stories and avoid the requirement for union labor. 

The only five story element in the entire building is a stairway – which is not occupied space and is therefore not considered a building story. 

In addition, we were able to slope the parking lot from the entrances at the top and bottom of the site while maintaining a grade that complies with ADA site accessibility requirements.

Project Result

The team’s focus on economical design paid off. 

Addison Row sailed through HUD inspection with minimal comments. The project was built on budget but conveys the appearance of luxury apartments which contrasts favorably with competing projects at similar price points. Best of all, the project exceeded expectations for leasing speed and financial success.  Units leased so fast, they’ve continuously raised the rent. 

The overall success of the project led to an immediate Phase 2 contract to double the size of the development. And that’s what Finley Design loves to do the most: create value for clients that earns a deep level of trust that fosters durable, long-term relationships.