Defining what actually constitutes a loft condo is a highly debated question. Loft purists often have a very different connotation than definitions popularly used by developers creating new construction loft projects.
The loft movement first became popular in the SoHo section of New York City during the 1960s. Artist created living spaces on the upper-levels industrial of obsolete industrial buildings. These late 19th-century period buildings had prior uses as factories, sweatshops and warehouses. In the pioneering period of SoHo lofts, most SoHo buildings not zoned as residential and the lofts were being used illegally as living space. In 1971, New York City legalized the residential use of space in the SoHo and loft living became popular throughout the neighborhood. Loft living spread to other previously industrial Manhattan neighborhoods including Tribeca, Chelsea and Greenwich Village.
Beyond NY, Bohemian loft districts were established in other large urban cities including the Fulton River District in Chicago, the Warehouse District in Cleveland, the North Loop in Minneapolis, Washington Avenue in St. Louis, and Logan Circle in Washington, DC. One of the tragedies of the ongoing gentrification of these urban neighborhoods is that the artists that first established loft areas are now priced out of many of these areas.
Key features of former industrial space that makes for attractive reuse as a loft include high ceilings, large industrial windows, exposed brick or cinder block walls, unfinished ceilings and exposed duct work. Many industrial reuse lofts have only partial height walls separating rooms or areas within the space. Some lofts even have industrial-era freight elevators that open into the living space.
A more recent trend, which is particularly popular in Washington, DC, is to build new construction loft developments. Developers recreate the industrial feel of loft architecture with exposed duct work, dual level living, high ceilings and industrial finishes. While these purpose-built "loftominiums" don't have the raw, bohemian feel of a traditional industrial reuse loft, they have proven very popular with buyers in the seeking an urban lifestyle in the Washington, DC market.
Mark Washburn is a real estate agent serving the urban Washington, DC market. Mark and his team can assist clients in their search for a DC loft, condo or town home in neighborhoods throughout the District including Adams Morgan, Capitol Hill, Columbia Heights, Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, Georgetown, Logan Circle, Mount Vernon Triangle, Penn Quarter, Shaw, U Street Corridor and the West End.
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