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The Washingtonian
August, 2002

Wide-Open Spaces
Developers Are Tearing Down Walls and Raising Ceilings to Bring New York –Style Loft Apartments to Washington.

By In-Sung Yoo

The loft apartment, a symbol of city chic, is coming to Washington.

Responding to a new breed of affluent renters who want urban style as well as luxury, developers are building lofts that mimic the trendiest in New York....

...Lofts have been a fixture of SoHo and other hip New York neighborhoods since the 1960s. Developers there turned warehouses into cavernous apartments with vaulted ceilings and towering windows.

The traditional loft features a spacious first floor with few, if any, walls. A smaller level overlooks the first and usually functions as a bedroom.

Loft interiors often have an industrial, minimalist look, with hardwood floors and exposed steel beams. Their chief appeal is freedom—both actual and perceived. Few spaces within the apartment are defined, and light and sound flow throughout....

...Because Washington lacks lots of old warehouses, developers are converting schools and small buildings. Sometimes they’re creating lofts from scratch....

...Another developer doing loft designs is Jim Abdo, a maverick on the DC real-estate scene. Abdo, who helped spur the comeback of DC’s Logan Circle neighborhood, gets top dollar for small spaces because his apartments and condominiums are adventurously designed.

Abdo likes to work on dilapidated properties, gutting the interior while preserving the façade’s look. Wide-open spaces are his trademark: He knocks down any wall that’s not critical to the structure and converts others to glass partitions.

“Space and openness are paramount in my designs,” says Abdo. “The ability to entertain guests is a huge consideration”.

Abdo recently began work converting the 40,000 square feet of Capitol Hill’s old Bryan School into 20 sprawling SoHo style flats and lofts. The apartments will feature five-by-ten-foot windows and ceilings at least 13 feet high.

Several of Abdo’s loft projects are single-unit rehabs. He’s transforming a 19th century carriage house in DC’s West End into a one-bedroom two-story loft that he plans to rent for $3,000 a month ($3,500 furnished). Oak floors and a bathroom in granite, maple, and Italian marble retain the traditional charm of the original house, but the design speaks of SoHo. The ground floor has only one wall, which separates the main living space from the bathroom (which is enclosed) and kitchen.

The 14-by-18-foot loft—which originally may have been a hayloft or toolshed—has 14 _ -foot ceilings, track lighting, and a skylight. It overlooks the white-brick wall are the back of the house, which is supported by a steel frame, making for an interesting aesthetic contrast.

“The way it flows from brick to wood to steel combines traditional with industrial in a really unique way,” Abdo says....

Excerpts from "Wide-Open Spaces Developers Are Tearing Down Walls and Raising Ceilings to Bring New York-Style Loft Apartments to Washington." in The Washingtonian August 2002