THE 2100 BLOCK OF 10TH Street N.W., in Washington's Shaw community, is a study in urban transition: On one corner, framers are busily putting up the skeleton of a new multifamily dwelling; on the opposite corner, a former bodega looks as if it has been boarded up for at least a decade; and in the middle of the block, wedged between a typical run of Victorian-era brick row homes, are five very contemporary, 16-foot-wide masonry-and-stucco attached homes.

“Within six months of starting this project, everything changed,” says Ali R. Honarkar, an architect with diVISION ONE architects in Rockville, Md. Honarkar and his partner, Mustafa Ali Nouri, not only designed the five contiguous homes, they also acted as the developer. The neighborhood's swift transition—from down-and-out to up-and-coming—is reflected in the huge price fluctuation of the units, which average about 2,200 square feet. The first unit sold for $404,000 in 2002; less than two years later, the last unit went for $850,000.

“I'd always wanted to bring an alternative type of housing to downtown Washington, and I talked to a lot of developers, but nobody wanted to come on board,” says Honarkar. “We finally found a bank in the area that shared our vision, so we decided to go ahead with the project on our own.”

Honarkar and his partner admit to pushing the design envelope—at least for buttoned-up Washington—most notably with their use of materials. Outside, there are pastel colors and touches of steel; inside, there are custom concrete countertops and high-end Italian lighting. “We wanted to prove that different styles can work together, but people said we were crazy,” says Honarkar. “But I think good design is good design, whether it's in Georgetown or this area of D.C. We didn't know how this neighborhood was going to react to it, but people ended up loving it.”

They have even forgiven the developers for naming the project Logan Heights Development (it's really in neighboring Shaw). “Shaw Development just wasn't working,” says Honarkar. “I felt bad that we couldn't use the name for the project, so when our first son was born, we named him Shaw.”

Project: Logan Heights Development, Washington; Size: 2,100 to 2,300 square feet; Total units: 5; Price: $404,000 to $850,000; Developer: Development Studios, Washington; Builder: Gordon Construction, Washington; Architect/Landscape architect/Interior designer: diVISION ONE architects, Rockville, Md.

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