Major Developer Floats Rehab/Redevelopment of Potomac Gardens and Hopkins Apartments

1229 G Street  would be rehabbed in the initial phase of the six year project

1229 G Street would be rehabbed in the initial phase of the six year project

Potomac Gardens - image from Google Maps

Potomac Gardens – image from Google Maps – click to enlarge

Hopkins Apartments - image courtesy of Google Maps

Hopkins Apartments – image courtesy of Google Maps


Major Developer Floats Rehab/Redevelopment of Potomac Gardens and Hopkins Apartments

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday night, Leon Kafele, Chairman/CEO of ICP Group – the major force behind development of Potomac Parc on lower Barracks Row – floated his proposal for rehabilitation and redevelopment of Potomac Gardens and Hopkins Apartments before ANC6B.  Kafele says the current 363 residential units could be expanded into as many as 1200 affordable units, thus contributing to the solution for the District’s affordable housing crisis.

Kafele’s plan would initially involve building a new affordable housing complex near 1229 K Street, currently occupied by elderly low to moderate income residents, move those residents into the new building, and then rehab the existing structure for new tenants.  The process would proceed, building by building, across the Potomac Gardens and Hopkins campuses.  Kafele says his company has been working for a year or two talking to residents in 1229 G Street, and gathering their signatures on a petition endorsing the move.  Most residents, he says, have signed the petition.   Kafele thinks the project will cost up to $250 million and take only six years – building with precast concrete.

The ICP Group website envisions the privatization of the project, and states:  “Our vision for Potomac Gardens is to create a mixed-use development that will include a combination of apartments, retail space, and parking….The bottom floor will consist of approximately 90,000 square feet of retail space.  The type of proposed retailers includes restaurants, coffee shop, local market, copy center, fitness center and clothing stores.”

Kafele said he expects to come back to Hill Center in January and conduct a more in-depth briefing for the community.  For more information, see the company’s website, here:



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11 responses to “Major Developer Floats Rehab/Redevelopment of Potomac Gardens and Hopkins Apartments

  1. dcgent

    Link wasn’t working for me–this seems to

  2. Exactly what does he mean by low income? person’s eligible for HUD assistance or young people earning first Daley type income?

  3. Corey H

    I’m trying not to let perfect be the enemy of good here but this sounds like a terrible plan from a developer with little-to-bad reputation in the neighborhood.

    They want to take 415000 square feet of land (from my calculation from OTR) and turn it into 1200 units? At the current R-5-B zoning that land has a developable potential of approximately 750,000 square feet (1.8 FAR) Putting only 1200 units there is a joke and a travesty of urban planning and design.

    And that doesn’t even get into their plans to rezone to allow for commercial. For every square foot of land they rezone to C-2-A, there’s an additional .7 square feet of developable residential above R-5-B that they wouldn’t be using.

    And what about keeping these developments 100% affordable? Time and time again thishas been shown time and again to be worse for the residents of those developments.

    I like the idea someone floated on the Newhilleast list serve the other day. If DDOT ever allows replacement of the southeast freeway between Barney circle and 11th street to include 1-for-1 build-first replacement of Potomac Gardens in mixed-income buildings. That idea makes sense. The one presented above does not.

    • dlg

      Potomac Gardens should be demolished – the buildings are awful Soviet style public housing and they do not interact with the street in an urban manner. Does DC own the land? If so, it should be sold and completely redeveloped with market rate housing AND affordable senior housing.

  4. Harry W.

    1200 “affordable” units. Can we please stop using this misleading euphemism? At the end of the day it’s “affordable” because of either rent control or taxpayer subsidies. The units are already affordable to some people –they just aren’t affordable to the right people.

    The subsidized housing model is great for the lottery winners who win a unit; and doesn’t impact the really wealthy who can still buy in this neighborhood and the people who are already here –but it gives it good and hard to the normal people who could afford to buy one of the set aside “affordable” units if they were on the open market but can’t because they can’t pay artificially higher prices.

    Is this really what we want our government doing? Please leave the housing market alone. Markets are so much better than activists and government workers at wisely allocating resources.

  5. Hill East homeowner

    As someone that owns a house within a stone’s throw of Potomac Gardens, this is very unsettling. Law enforcement (housing police and DC PD) already have a difficult enough time keeping order. There was a shooting on 13th street this summer, and robberies and assaults continue to abound. Adding more residents into an already confined space is just asking for trouble. It’s a difficult situation, people need affordable housing, but the neighborhood is changing so radically, creating strain between homeowners and people in Potomac Gardens. I’m not sure if adding more residents to this area is the answer. Perhaps a new space, with more space, would be a better solution.

  6. Usually I get excited about affordable housing but … ugh. 1200 units? That’s just revisiting the disastrous 1970s-era policy of cramming as many poor people onto one block as possible, instead of integrating the poor. I thought the new zoning rules were going to be the end of this.

  7. Barracks Row

    Leon Kaefele? What’s the last project he actually successfully completed? He never did anything with the properties he owned on Lower 8th Street.

    • Corey H

      Exactly! He’s got HPRB approval for 801 Virginia Ave. Let’s see if anything actually happens with it. Of course he hasn’t even filed for a building permit after getting that approval.

    • Corey H

      Welp, never mind. He sold the 801 Virginia Ave and now it’s being developed by someone else. I imagine those two things aren’t coincidental.

  8. lower8thknowsbetter

    Larry, did you just copy and paste your first paragraph from an ICP press release? Major developer / major force behind “Potomac Parc”? Please.