A new development might reflect, in some way, the architectural style of the building it replaced — a nod to the past. But the classically designed nine-story office building at 900 16th St. NW, which superseded the Brutalist-style Third Church of Christ, Scientist sanctuary and Christian Science Monitor building, certainly does not. Blessed be.
It took 20 years of hemming, hawing and bargaining with historic preservationists, lawyers and city planners, but the Chevy Chase-based JBG Cos. and Bethesda-based ICG Properties finally delivered their 141,000-square-foot project in 2016 — three years after the development team landed an office anchor in Miller & Chevalier Chartered.
The mixed-use project includes 125,000 square feet of trophy office space, an 11,722-square-foot house of worship for the Third Church of Christ (now the First Church of Christ), 3,895 square feet of retail and three levels of underground parking. It boasts exceptional views, floor-to-ceiling glass bays, a fitness center and a new restaurant in Mirabelle from James Beard Award-winning Executive Chef Frank Ruta.
The Third Church of Christ had sought to redevelop its property since 1991, just 20 years after its initial construction, citing “structural inadequacies and deficiencies.” But a 2007 bid to raze the building sparked a series of lawsuits, an approved historic designation and, ultimately, three years of negotiations between the church, the court, ICG and its partners, the District government and the D.C. Preservation League.
Under a settlement negotiated between ICG and the DCPL in 2010, the developer was allowed to construct an office building no larger than 156,000 square feet and a new church no larger than 10,000 square feet, while the league agreed not to oppose the demolition or the project, directly or indirectly. ICG also agreed to contribute $450,000 to a fund established by the DCPL “to support mid-century modern and religious architectural programming,” for which the preservation league would take 20 percent as an administrative fee.