Penthouses and Top Floor Condos in the Washington Metro Area

There is an unmistakable aura of luxury and elitism when it comes to penthouses for sale in the Washington Metropolitan area. That’s because there is only so much room at the top of any building, and that exclusivity typically commands a high price. But location plays a large role as well, with iconic skyline views of national monuments and the pulsing energy of trendy urban neighborhoods.

There was a time long ago, when the top floor of a tower was not considered a welcoming place to live, used more for storage or utility rooms, or living quarters for hired help. After all, these spaces directly under the roof were akin to the attic of a house—dusty and claustrophobic. Also, elevators in the late 1800s weren’t always the most reliable means for ascending the heights, and who wants to climb all those stairs?

But all that changed during the 1920s when improving elevator technology and a Jazz Age society enamored of beautiful views, combined to influence a paradigm shift. And suddenly, commercial architects were encouraging life at the top with large windows, terraces and the notion that penthouses represented a lofty ideal. And so began the penthouse mystique—an epic part of luxury condos for sale.

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Top floor condos for sale in Alexandria, Arlington, Bethesda, DC, Fairfax County and Falls Church present a much wider set of options compared to yesteryear. Penthouses are no longer single residences at the apex of a building. Developers now typically divide the upper levels into several units of varying sizes. It’s a smart marketing move, allowing a degree of exclusivity for studio or one-bedroom residences while still according the highest cache to those spacious city homes with the giant window walls, soaring ceilings and private rooftop terraces.

But it is also worth noting the Washington itself isn’t known for particularly tall skyscrapers, this due to the Height of Buildings Act of 1910 which was passed by the U.S. Congress to limit the height of structures in the nation’s capital. As a result, the tallest residential buildings in the District are all less than 200 feet tall. By comparison, New York City boasts 432 Park Avenue—the tallest residential skyscraper in the world at 1398 feet.

That said, the same height limits don’t apply in Arlington and other parts of the metropolitan area. The community of Rosslyn, for instance, boast several buildings over 300 feet tall. But these still pale next to the mighty spires in NYC and Chicago.

All that aside, the Washington area has plenty of very fancy bird nest dwellings. And after all, penthouses don’t always have to soar into the clouds to be cool. They can also be found in mid-rise complexes and all sorts of adaptive reuse structures, even former schools and industrial buildings.

So how much will a treetop home cost? The top end is pretty high indeed. A 6145 square foot penthouse pad at the Ritz Carlton in DC’s Georgetown recently listed for $13.950 million. That’s a ton of money! But you do get four valet parking spaces tossed in.

Some of the highest stickers on other top floor condominiums for sale include a $9 million residence at Water Street in Georgetown, a $5.5 million three-bedroom PH at the Somerset House in Chevy Chase, Maryland and a $3.4 million pad with a private elevator and amazing views of the Potomac River at Turnberry Tower in Rosslyn.

Penthouse costs don’t necessarily have to be that high, however. Set your search criteria to somewhat more modest levels and you’ll still find plenty of intriguing choices, with luxurious living quarters, fabulous amenities and all sorts of nearby perks. Regardless of price, life at the top is pretty sweet. 

To learn more about these lofty perches, call District Partners at Compass, 202-798-3600.

The listing content relating to real estate for sale on this web site is courtesy of MRIS. Listing information comes from various brokers who participate in the MRIS IDX.Properties listed with brokerage firms other than Compass are marked with the MRIS Logo and detailed information about them includes the name of the listing brokers.The properties displayed may not be all the properties available. All information provided is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified.All listing information copyright MRIS 2019.

Listing information last updated on June 19th, 2019 at 2:45am EDT.