When brainstorming a name for this 26-unit condo project in Washington, D.C.’s U Street Corridor, developer Imar Hutchins didn’t have to look far. The site included a beloved soul food restaurant called the Florida Avenue Grill, opened in 1944 by Lacey C. Wilson Sr. and later run by his son, Lacey C. Wilson Jr. Hutchins dubbed his building The Lacey, in honor of the Wilsons’ longtime commitment to the neighborhood. “The name is a tribute to these guys,” explains The Lacey’s designer, Ali R. Honarkar of Division1 Architects. “So the building had to be progressive, like them.”

The four-story structure maintains a human scale that complements its row house-dominated surroundings. Gridlike front and rear façades of glass and steel create a feeling of lightness that enhances the building’s sleek profile. Honarkar and his team gave the four duplex units on the front ground level their own individual entrances. “We wanted to engage with the street,” he says. Other innovative exterior paneling materials—among them VIROC, a wood-based product resembling concrete, and Trespa, which consists of resin and wood fibers—contribute to the building’s futuristic look.

Residents say the project’s design, along with nearby nightlife and public transportation options, served as its main attraction. “As soon as I walked into The Lacey, I fell in love,” recalls Chris Cormier, a former architecture student and proud proprietor of a one-bedroom unit. “It was mostly the design that made me buy,” agrees another one-bedroom owner, Alberto Bruzzone. Each unit type—studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom—opens out onto high-ceilinged main corridors bookended by glass windows for extra daylighting. “We wanted to have as much natural light as possible,” Honarkar notes.

project: The Lacey, Washington, D.C.
architect: Division1 Architects, Washington, D.C.
developer: Wilson Enterprises, New York
general contractor: Withheld
project size: 500 square feet to 1,750 square feet per unit
site size: 0.2 acre
construction cost: $280 per square foot
sales price: $379,999 to $799,000 per unit
units in project: 26
photography: Debi Fox Photography