As you ride up the escalator at the Columbia Heights Metro station, the apartments and mostly local eateries that developer Chris Donatelli assembled come into view: Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Tynan Coffee & Tea and Acre 121.
The project, Highland Park, is part of a lively, walkable hub — the sort coveted these days by many residents living east of the Anacostia River.
Donatelli says he is about to deliver just that.
On Aug. 8, Donatelli Development closed on a $65 million financing package to build a 376-unit apartment building with 20,000 square feet of retail at the corner of Benning Road and Minnesota Avenue Northeast, a major crossroads in Ward 7, the city’s second poorest ward. Excavation work begins this week, and the building should be complete by the fall of 2014.
Donatelli said renters in all parts of the city are looking for bustling neighborhoods with engaging storefronts. “People are looking for a lifestyle. They’re looking for a new building. They’re looking for amenities. And not necessarily an expansive living space, because often times they are living alone,” he said.