Adams Morgan mixed-use project pays homage to demolished movie house

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The Ontario Theater in Adams Morgan is gone but not entirely forgotten. Nearing completion on the site of the demolished movie palace is the Ontario 17 condominium, whose design recalls parts of its 1951 predecessor.

The theater’s triangular marquee, supported, in part, by a lone column at the apex, has been re-created to mark a retail entrance to the new building, at Columbia Road and 17th Street NW. And the underside of the jutting canopy will be covered by metal panels salvaged from the razed theater. Granite recycled from the movie house lines the base of the new structure.

Construction of Ontario 17 is supposed to be completed this summer, and half of its 80 units have already been sold. The six-story building was designed by the Eisen Group of the District, and it is being built by Ellisdale Construction of Leesburg for the Peterson Cos., a Fairfax County-based developer.

“The context was key to the design,” architect Jonathan Eisen says. “The building scale is in keeping with the neighborhood, and we used light-colored brick that is similar to some of the surrounding buildings.”

Storefronts line the ground floor, including the retail space reached by way of the entrance under the marquee.

Studios and penthouses: The condominium is entered from 17th Street, and a lounge for homeowners “will be part of the lobby experience,” Eisen says. The building also has a community rooftop terrace with a gas fire pit, but few such amenities were included, which will help keep the condo fees fairly low, at $190 to $492 a month. The shared outdoor space and upper-floor units have views of such landmarks as the Washington Monument and nearby church steeples. There are no community exercise facilities, but Solidcore, a chain of fitness centers, has signed a lease for space in the building.

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There are four floor plans for studio units, ranging from 372 to 400 square feet and priced from $274,900 to $299,900. The other offerings range from one-bedroom units (most have been sold), at $418,900 for 680 square feet or $479,900 for 714 square feet, to a two-bedroom, two-bathroom penthouse for $849,900 (only one is currently available), with a spiral staircase leading to a private rooftop deck and a balcony that wraps around the living area.

A parking space in the underground garage costs $40,000, and storage rooms can be purchased for $4,500 to $10,000.

Compact with a spacious feel: The units are designed to be space-saving. The model studio unit — for showing to prospective buyers — is staged with a pull-down dining table, a pull-out sofa and a fold-up Murphy bed, one of which can be purchased for $6,500. In most units, kitchens are arranged along one wall, and the two-bedroom design includes a movable island on wheels.

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Open-plan living areas, nine-foot-high ceilings and large windows make the smaller apartments feel more spacious. Almost all the condo units have access to a balcony or a terrace. Standard finishes and fixtures include quartz countertops, custom cabinets and Bosch appliances in the kitchen.

Efficiency units are fitted with compact, German-made Blomberg refrigerators to save space. Floors in living areas and bedrooms are covered in wide-plank hardwood, rather than carpeting. Bathrooms in the studio and two-bedroom residences include frameless glass-enclosed showers and Kohler fixtures.

“The units are completely move-in ready,” says sales manager Laina Lee of Alexandria-based McWilliams Ballard, which is marketing the property. “Closet organizers and roller shades are already installed.”

Walls are insulated with highly sustainable EcoBatt insulation, combining sand, recycled bottle glass and an organic binder. Appliances are Energy Star-rated and glass windows and doors are filled with inert gas, which promotes greater energy efficiency, according to Lee.

Schools: H.D. Cooke Elementary, Marie Reed Elementary, Oyster-Adams Bilingual School and Columbia Heights Education Campus.

Transit and shopping: Ontario 17 is near the Columbia Heights and Woodley Park Metrorail stations, and H1, 43 and 42 buses run past the building. Nearby grocery stores include Harris Teeter and Safeway. The location has received scores of 96, 95 and 85, out of 100, for walking, bicycling and use of mass transit, respectively.

Parks and recreation: Unity Park, Rabaut Park, Columbia Heights Community Center, Rock Creek Park, Kalorama Park, Meridian Hill Park and the National Zoo are within walking distance.

Deborah K. Dietsch is a freelance writer.

Ontario 17

2550 17th St. NW, Washington

Condos are priced from $274,900 to $849,900. Units will be finished later this summer.

Developer: Peterson Cos. of Fairfax County. (The Eisen Group of Washington is the architect; Ellisdale Construction of Leesburg is the builder.)

Features: Units have nine-foot-high ceilings, open-plan living areas, Bosch appliances, quartz countertops, custom cabinets, recessed lighting, hardwood flooring, double-paned windows.

Bedrooms/bathrooms: 1-2/1-2

Square footage: 372 to 1,000 square feet.

Homeowner association fees: $190 to $492 per month.

View models: By appointment.

Contact: Laina Lee, sales manager, 202-660-0092,; Brenda Moreno, sales manager, 202-660-0092,