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WASHINGTON, DC-Work begins this month on Ellington Plaza, the $42-million mixed-use development going up in the District’s U Street corridor. Developer Bethesda, MD-based Donatelli & Klein Inc. has conceived a project entailing a 186-unit residential building with 15,000-sf of ground-level retail space, and an underground parking garage to accommodate as many as 176 vehicles.

The U Street area was once a vibrant arts locale, playing host to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, and Duke Ellington, for which the project is named. The area suffered from the 1968 riots and has been slow to recover, with most major new construction beginning in the past decade. Donatelli won the right to develop the property–previously owned by the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority and located adjacent to the Metro’s U Street/Cardozo station–after a competitive bidding process. In documents regarding the District’s selling of the $2 million parcel to Donatelli, the DC Department of Housing and Community Development wrote: “Development of this larger property will have a major impact on the redevelopment of the U Street corridor. What was once a major eyesore and off the District’s tax roles for 13 years, will be a major tax and job generator. In addition, the infusion of new homeowners and workers into the area will generate spin-off benefits for local commercial establishments.”

This project hardly marks new territory for Donatelli. “We’ve been involved in the Greater DC area for thirty years,” Donatelli & Klein president Chris Donatelli tells GlobeSt.com. “And we’ve been involved in the U Street area since 1995, when we began work on a residential project at the old Children’s Hospital site, also known as Harrison Square.” The 98-unit Harrison Square Townhomes complex now sits at that location. “It’s a great neighborhood with lots to offer, and it has great transportation with the Metro being right across the street,” Donatelli continues. “The area has a lot going on, with a lot of developments and rehabilitations underway.” Ellington Plaza is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2004.

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