I had the opportunity to tour the newly opened Allegro Apartments at 3460 14th Street NW in Columbia Heights. The structure, designed by architects Eric Colbert & Associates, is without question one of the most interesting and visually striking new construction projects in the area if not the whole city. I've watched with interest over the last year as it has been built and I think the result is spectacular. It's deliciously modern design is appealing but tasteful. While I am often wary of modern structures mixing with DC's classic styles, I believe when it's done right the result can be excellent. The brick, steel and glass facade is interesting and unique, but thoughtful enough that I believe it will stand the test of time. It's hard not to like what they've done here.
The location is a few blocks north of the DCUSA development, and the Allegro stands out as the first major new construction in Columbia Heights to open outside of the "downtown" area. Obviously it's still pretty convenient to the metro and the shopping, but not right in the center of things. The first floor of the Allegro is being leased for retail. One restaurant, Thaitanic II, has already leased space and will be opening this summer. The remainder of the space has not yet been leased. Hopefully this will change soon - as far as I'm concerned there can't be too many restaurants in Columbia Heights. From a selfish perspective I live about two blocks from here so I'm looking forward to having more entertainment and shopping options even closer than DCUSA.
The Allegro is deceptively large - 297 units in total. The structure is built around two central courtyards, and as a result nearly all the units have balconies or patios. Let me be clear: this is high end. The building was initially developed as luxury condominums, but like many developments in progress over the last year or two, converted to apartments as a result of the troubled economy. Unlike some others, however, the Allegro did not significantly alter the designs or build-out quality as a result of this switch. All the units feature granite countertops, high-end appliances, and a washer and dryer in every unit.
Additionally, nearly every apartment's floor plan is unique. I saw a few different units and they aren't just different technically, they really do feel different. I think this is really cool because it means as a lessee you will be able to choose from a lot of configurations rather than the far more typical "one size fits all."
I'm not going to say too much more about the specifics and amenities as you can get all the details from their web site. Let's just say it's pretty much got it all - free wi-fi in common areas (which I suspect means some tenants will be able to get online from their apartment, though it's not specifically provided for that purpose); 24-hour doorman; exercise room; public meeting spaces and common areas that can be reserved for private use; a public computer lab; access to the gorgeous courtyards in the center of the structure. And pets are allowed. Though there are apparently certain breed restrictions on dogs (I'm guessing pit bulls and rottweilers though they didn't say and I forgot to ask) there are no size restrictions. This alone should make the Allegro immensely popular. I have heard from friends time and time again how difficult it is to find a rental in DC that allows dogs and especially large dogs.
Of course this comes at a price. The range is from $1,525 to $1,800 for studio apartments to $3,525 to $3,875 for the penthouse suites (which include a loft). While this isn't exactly cheap, it's also pretty competitive with many of the new other new developments in Columbia Heights. Though I'm not sure how many of them offer penthouses....
Additionally, in the middle of the price range are a type of unit called "1 bedroom plus den," in the range of $2400 a month. I saw one of these and honestly, most people would call this a 2 bedroom unit. The "den" is easily big enough to be a bedroom, with the only downside being that the den may not have windows. And there is plenty of living space besides. What this means is that two people could comfortably share a "1 bedroom plus den" for and be paying about $1200 each, which is totally in line with what you'd expect to pay for half of a two bedroom apartment around here. And for a couple, the den would be a great guest bedroom. But you get a ridiculously swank living situation and all the amenities on top. So despite being at the high end, this kind of living might not be out of the reach of some mortals.
Bottom line? It's gorgeous. I can't think of too many negatives about what they've done here. If I had to pick a shortcoming, I'd say the hallways are carpeted, and pretty bland. It feels a bit like a hotel. I am sure the carpeting is a practical decision, since a hard flooring surface like tiles would be noisy. This really isn't much of a complaint, I mean, it's just the hallway. The construction wasn't entirely completed when I did my walkthrough on Monday either, so I suspect that the final appearance will be more visually appealing either with paint or some other kinds of accent to mitigate the whiteness of the halls.
Below are a few choice pictures, but there are many more in my flickr set for The Allegro. If you're looking in Columbia Heights in the $1500-$2500 price range (or you are filthy rich and want to live in a wicked penthouse), this place should be your first stop.
Grand Opening Gala April 22: There will be a grand opening party next Wednesday, April 22, at the Allego lobby and courtyard with music, food and booze. 6 to 9 pm. Info and RSVP.
Disclaimer: I was contacted by the Allegro about writing something for my blog, but I have not been compensated in any way and this writeup was not reviewed by anyone other than myself prior to posting. Obviously I'm a fan, but I am writing this only out of my own interest in the project and the neighborhood. All the photographs are my own.
Below: One of the courtyards.
The upper level of the main lobby. Yes, those are fireplaces.
Bedroom in the model unit