Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

Real Estate News
by Mary K. Mewbor

The District

In May of last year, Robert Wennett, president of Starwood Urban Investments, offered the company’s entire $500 million portfolio of properties for sale.  Locally the properties included office, residential and retail spaces in Cleveland Park, Chevy Chase/Friendship Heights, Dupont Circle, Woodley Park and the historic Potomac riverfront district in Old Town Alexandria.  Now, recent public records indicate that Wennett, in conjunction with Nancy Dunlop, has parted with 2750 32nd Street, N.W., the stunning Massachusetts Avenue Heights known as “The Villa.”  The spacious light-filled, five bedroom/four bath home features an open floor plan that allows guests to flow easily through the reception hall and living room onto the stone terrace with alfresco dining area.  The property backs to parkland affording scenic serenity and was offered for sale fully furnished.  The estate had been listed for $4.5 million.  It sold for $4.1 million to Rampa R. Hormel, president of the Global Environment Project Institute, a private foundation “dedicated to promoting the sustainability of life on earth.”   Ms. Hormel, who sits on the board of the League of Conservation Voters, is also a former board member of Green Seal and a recipient of the United Nations Environment Program Global 500 Award. 


David E. Birenbaum, former U.S. Representative to the United Nations for management and reform sold 2804 34th Place, N.W. for $2.4 million to Farhad Jalinous, a foreign investment counsel in the Washington office of Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler, LLP.  Mr. Jalinous graduated summa cum laude from Georgetown University in 1987 and received his J.D. from Georgetown in 1990.  He is fluent in French and Persian.  His new home on Observatory Circle has six bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms including a master bedroom suite with a sitting area, three walk-in closets and an elevator to the kitchen.  The beautifully proportioned living room features a fireplace and custom designed display shelves.  The formal dining room offers a built-in china cabinet and elegantly detailed crown molding.  The eat-in kitchen has a skylight, walk-in pantry and adjoining breakfast room with a fireplace and French doors leading through the kitchen to the rear gardens.  Additional features of note include a spacious front porch, a grand foyer with “a turned staircase,” a rear balcony connecting the second floor’s two guest bedrooms, and a custom designed tiled sun room that overlooks the black bottomed swimming pool and gardens.

Former IBM director and president emeritus of AOL Technologies Michael M. Connors has reportedly purchased 3147 P Street, N.W. for approximately $4.6 million.  Connors, who weathered a class action suit when he was named as a defendant in the Tellium scandal, is the director of The Connors Foundation and a trustee of the Phillips Collection.  The home’s previous resident had been Guyon Knight, vice president of corporate communications for the Washington Post Company.

Amory Houghton and his wife Priscilla Dewey Houghton have sold their District home at 3512 P Street, N.W. following the congressman’s retirement after nine-terms as a Republican representative from N.Y.   Houghton was the fifth-ranking Republican on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and a member of the International Relations Committee.  He was also appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the Congressional Delegate to the 58th United Nations General Assembly. Among Houghton’s significant legislative accomplishments is the Liberty Zone Act which provided $5 billion in tax breaks and incentives to help lower Manhattan in the wake of September 11.  The former CEO of a Fortune 500 company to serve in the House of Representatives, Houghton is heir to the Corning Glass fortune and has been described as the “father of fiber optics” for his support of Corning’s R&D of the revolutionary new communications material. (Corning, which was established in 1851, also supplied Thomas Edison with the casing for his first light bulb and developed the windshields for NASA’s space shuttles.)  Houghton served in the Marine Corps during World War II. and is a Harvard MBA.  The Houghton’s historic house is alternately known as the Teresa Fenwick House or the Thomas Parrot House Building.   The stately Federal dates back to 1826 and is composed of five bedrooms, five and a half baths and a carriage house with a two-car garage.  It is situated on nearly a quarter acre of formal grounds adjacent to Georgetown University.  Coldwell Banker’s Nancy Taylor Bubes listed the estate which sold for in excess of $3,250,000.


The premier Fairfax County property at 1001 Basil Road in McLean has been sold to an as yet undisclosed buyer.  The authentic European country manor was designed by renowned architect William Bland “Billy” Dew, Jr. who is remembered for remodeling the historic Red Fox Inn in Middleburg in the late 1930’s when that early eighteenth-century tavern was saved from demolition. A 1930 graduate of the University of Virginia, Dew died in late 2000, but not before he left his mark designing and remodeling a number of significant buildings in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Delaware and Virginia.  Dew prided himself on adapting 16th, 17th and 18th century European art and architecture to modern needs and this elegant property in the highly sought after Basil Road neighborhood is testament to his skill and talent.  Sitting astride two acres with breathtaking Parisian-style gardens reminiscent of the gardens at Versailles, the stucco and limestone custom-designed masterpiece has six bedrooms, seven full baths and two half baths.  It sold for $4,725,000 having originally been listed for $5,500,000.  The property had belonged to the late statesman and businessman Omer Lee Hirst and his widow, Nancy.  Hirst was a leading member of the Virginia State Legislature, both in the House of Delegates from 1954 to 1959 and as a State senator from 1964 to 1979.

Just down the street, a stately four-story Colonial with more than 15,000 square-feet of living space including nine bedrooms and nine full baths sold for $3,350,000. Conveniently located on a quiet cul-de-sac only ten minutes from D.C., the property at 1004 Basil Road boasts a spacious backyard with lush gardens. Perfect for both elegant entertaining and comfortable family living, the highlights of this home include a two-story foyer and second floor gallery, formal living and dining rooms, a great room with a stone fireplace, French country kitchen, English billiards room, a first floor master bedroom suite with a recreation room, wet bar, exercise room and three-car garage.  Offered at $3,900,000, the seller was Steve Barth, who moved to Boston.  A strictly adhered to confidentiality agreement has so far prevented any firm confirmation of the buyer’s identity. 


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