City Paper is not for tourists
Prolific local developer UIP’s buying spree continues apace! A few months ago, we checked in on a batch of buildings formerly owned by the Tenacity Group that UIP picked up at a foreclosure auction. Today, they announced the purchase of 2359-2401 Ontario Road NW, a 52-unit apartment building in Adams Morgan, for $4.2 million.
Longtime City Paper readers might remember this one. Back in 2007, owner NWJ Companies sued advisory neighborhood commissioner (and Councilmember Jim Graham’s consituent services guy) Wilson Reynolds for organizing a cleanup at the building, where the mostly Hispanic residents had complained of shoddy conditions. You might also recognize the landlord. NWJ was also the owner of the Deauville in Mt. Pleasant, which burned to the ground in 2008, sending a laundry list of code violations up in flames.
Things have gotten a little better since 2007. “It sort of went from a roaring boil to a steady simmer,” Reynolds tells me. Just a young boy beaten to death in the back of the building last spring, he remembers, but nothing else catastrophic.
Conditions are about to get a lot better. The tenants bargained away their first right to purchase the building, in exchange for a promise that it would stay as apartments, and that all current residents could either stay at their current rent or take a buyout and leave. In order to justify market rates on the newly vacant apartments—-which UIP principal Steve Schwat estimates might rent for between $1,700 and $2,000 for a one-bedroom—-the company plans to put $2.4 million into the common areas, security, HVAC, new kitchens, a bike storage room, and a roof deck.
Typically, Schwat says, about a quarter to a third of residents choose to go. For his purposes, the more the better, although he emphasizes that nobody’s being pushed out. “I don’t encourage one way or the other,” he says. “I’d love if the whole building were vacant. But that’s not the reality, and that’s not what we push for.”
Meanwhile, UIP is still hungry for deals, with about $100 million to spend in the D.C. market. “We could not possibly buy enough properties to satisfy our investors at the moment,” Schwat says.