Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Converting Truckstops to Townhomes - $300 Million Mixed-Use project Coming to Laurel?

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Back when dcmud was still running around in knickers (it was the ‘80s – fashion victims all), we spent a year or so living in Laurel MD, just miles north of the Beltway along Route 1 in Price George’s County, but miles (and years) away from the developing mini-city it has recently become (plenty of farms were still around then). The latest major development involving Laurel now arrives via DC-based Patriot Group, which is hoping to build a $300 million mixed-use community on the 10-acre site of a former trucking terminal, located just east of Route 1 at Marshall Avenue and Staggers Road. In late June, Patriot Group submitted a conceptual development plan to the city, the first step in an approval process that might not be completed until 2009. (Those interested in this project should note that there will be a community forum this week (August 1, 7 pm at Laurel City Hall) to discuss the plan.) The developer envisions erecting seven buildings (ranging in height from five to 20 stories) that would feature 1,208 residential units and over 140,000 sf of office space. If all approvals are met, construction will begin in 2009, with project completion slated for 2017.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Trammell Crow Readies Work on Alexan Project in South Arlington

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No longer will you be able to glimpse the familiar site of the old EconoLodge Motel alongside the western side of Interstate 395 at 2485 South Glebe Road while driving south, as developer Trammell Crow Residential has finished demolition work on this site in preparation for the early 2008 construction start for its $50 million Alexan at South Glebe project. The Alexan, located less that a mile from Shirlington’s restaurants and shops, is expected to be a 217-unit apartment building skewing toward young professionals. Twenty units will be set aside as affordable housing. Plans also call for about 330 below-grade parking spaces. The Alexan is expected to be completed in 2010.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

White Flint View Moves Forward

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On July 12, the Montgomery County Planning Board approved the preliminary plan submitted by builder Naples Commercial LLP for White Flint View, its proposed development for the 1.87 acres located at 5511 Nicholson Lane (at the north end of Huff Court) in North Bethesda, just east of Rockville Pike and the White Flint Metro station. Naples intends to construct a 16-story tower with underground parking containing 183 residential units (about 23 units will be reserved as moderately priced dwelling units), as well as 29,500 sf of retail, including a sit-down restaurant. The plumbing supply store now on the lot will be torn down. In addition, Naples will contribute to the County’s planned extension of Citadel Avenue from Marinelli Road south to Nicholson Lane, where it will connect with Huff Court. No timeline is yet known for this project.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Sound of Silence – Birchmere Cancels Plans for Silver Spring Music Hall

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And now for a story that harshes our mellow, considering dcmud’s mini-obsession with music (after our real estate crush, of course). Last September, we reported that Montgomery County officials had announced a partnership with Lee Development Group that would bring a new branch of the Birchmere Music Hall to the old art-deco J.C. Penny building at 8656 Colesville Road (owned by Lee Development), located at the corner of Colesville Road at Fenton Street in Silver Spring, by 2009. The Birchmere – a long-time stalwart of the Del Ray, Alexandria, scene on Mount Vernon Avenue (old-timers like us will also remember its original location in Old Town), has supported many major singer-songwriter talents, including well-known performers such as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lyle Lovett, and John Hiatt.

However, this week Birchmere officials announced that the planned $8 million, 800-seat venue (pictured) is now off the table, and that Montgomery County officials and Lee Development both have backed out of the deal. Instead, it appears that this location might instead see the development of a 152-room hotel, 183,000-sf office building, a 650-space garage, and a "stand-up" nightclub. (A comedy club? Shudder ....) While the loss of The Birchmere is a blow to music lovers, at least developers appear to still be singing a positive tune on Silver Spring’s potential.

Update: The Post is now reporting that instead of the Birchmere, a bigger music venue is in consideration to occupy this space! Live Nation, the world's largest producer of live concerts, is contemplating putting one of its Fillmore-branded clubs here, and would make the club three times as large (over 2,000 capacity) as what was planned for the Birchmere. While we'd personally prefer having the homegrown Birchmere and its emphasis on intimate shows, the Fillmore coming would be a major coup on Silver Spring's part. Stay tuned ....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Developer to Expand Hyattsville Project

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As the redevelopment of Route 1 in Hyattsville into a vibrant, livable city center moves forward, Bethesda-based developer EYA is already making plans to add new residential units and commercial/retail space to its current $125 million "Arts District Hyattsville" plan for the area. EYA has agreed to purchase two additional properties next to the former Lustine Chevrolet dealership lot (where Route 1 hits Madison Street), which it is now in the midst of redeveloping, with Phase I delivering 12 "live-work" units plus 119 townhouse-style row homes that are scheduled for Spring 2008 completion (and will sell for between $400,000-$600,000), and Phase 2 promising 220 more row homes, four "live-work" units, and 34,500 sf of retail and restaurant space (pending plan approval by the Prince George's County Planning Board this fall). With its new land purchases, EYA envisions building either 82 new residential units, or perhaps 12 residential units and a mix of commercial and retail use. EYA’s "Arts District Hyattsville" project is part of Maryland’s designated effort, launched in April 2005, to redevelop the town’s Route 1 corridor into a "gateway arts and entertainment district."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

DC Council Approves Sale of 6428 Georgia Avenue; Park East Back on Track?

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Last week, the DC Council gave unanimous approval to the sale of 6428 Georgia Avenue NW, a 5,184-sf lot containing a vacant building of 7,000 sf (formerly Blockbuster Video), to Georgia Avenue Investment Partners, LLC (Ellis Denning) for almost $4 million, bringing to a close the short, odd tale of this Brightwood property. A year ago, Ellis Denning actually owned this land, and had plans to construct Park East (pictured), a condo-retail complex on the site. But in August 2006, the DC government, threatening eminent domain, managed to purchase the lot from Ellis Denning for $3.9 million with the intention of building a firehouse for Fire Engine Company 22. Soon after, opposition to this plan was raised, with many pointing out that a firehouse would be inconsistent with efforts to revitalize this stretch of Georgia Avenue as a livable, pedestrian-friendly space. With this in mind, the DC Council passed a bill to sell the lot back to Ellis Denning at the same price for which it was purchased from them. Ellis Denning is expected to now move forward with its plans to build a 5-story complex on the lot, but now with 39 apartment units rather than condos (12 units will be affordable housing). Design is by Hickok Cole Architects.

Washington DC real estate development news

Court Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Views at Clarendon Project

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On July 11, the Arlington Circuit Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by Clarendon residents that challenged the Arlington County Board’s approval of the First Baptist Church of Clarendon’s Views at Clarendon project, clearing the way for this contested development just a block from the Clarendon Metro station. The judge, in rejected the eight counts of the lawsuit filed by three residents after the Board approved the project in February, stated that the complainants failed to show the Board acted improperly in its decision, and that the zoning change by the Board was acceptable. While this case may still be appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court after a final order is entered, it appears that the Views at Clarendon might actually now see the light of day. The First Baptist Church of Clarendon is looking to build the Views at Clarendon, a mixed-use church and residential development, at its current location at 1201 N. Highland Street. The project will keep the church's 107-foot steeple, while rebuilding the church (a smaller version) within a 10-story, 116 rental-unit structure (with 70 units reserved for moderately priced housing). The project will also preserve Arlington’s largest child care center, which serves 185 children.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Master Planner Selected for Southwest Waterfront Project

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It has been some time since we last heard word regarding the massive $800 million redevelopment plan for the Southwest Waterfront along the Washington Channel. Now home to middling touristy restaurants and asphalt lots, developer Hoffman-Struever Waterfront LLC (PN Hoffman and Struever Brothers, Eccles & Rouse) and the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. (AWC) are hoping to transform this prime real estate into a mixed-use maritime, commercial, residential and cultural destination by the year 2017. And now comes word that Hoffman-Struever and the AWC have selected New York-based Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects as the master planner for this project from a pool of 15 applicants. Ehrenkrantz was selected based on its past waterfront experience on Manhattan’s Battery Park City and Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

When completed, the Southwest Waterfront project is expected to contain up to 825 mixed-income housing units, 200,000 sf of cultural space (such as a museum, church and civic space), a 450-room hotel, 84,000 sf of office space, 317,000 sf of retail space, and 2,000 parking spaces. The project will also improve public access to the waterfront with 13-acre waterfront promenade, public piers, and public plazas. The fish market now on the site will be preserved and renovated. Other items on the drawing board include a possible aquarium, space for Cirque du Soleil, and a facility for the Living Classrooms Foundation.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Silver Spring Transit Center MOU Approved

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Last week, the Montgomery County Planning Board reached a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Public Works and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) regarding the massive mixed-use development project slated for the site of the Silver Spring Metro station, clearing the way for the issuance of bids for this $75 million development. The new Paul S. Sarbanes Silver Spring Transit Center, as the project is called, broke ceremonial ground last November, and is expected to be completed in 2009.

The Silver Spring Metro station is one of the busiest transit centers in the Washington area, currently serving 27,000 Metro riders, 32,000 bus riders and 1,100 MARC train riders daily, a number that is expected to increase to 97,000 patrons per day by 2025. Under the MOU, the Planning Board agreed to exchange its 35,000-sf Metro Urban Park (located on the current site) for an 11,633-sf park at the transit plaza entrance and an 11,590-sf park just off site. In addition, the Planning Board made clear it expects the county and WMATA to build all “essential elements” for the Center (escalator canopies, shade tress, light fixtures, etc.), and for any necessary additional funding to be sought from Federal and/or state governments.

If project plans hold, the development will transform the 5.7 acres around the metro station into a new three-story transit hub, with the first two levels for buses, and the third for metro’s Kiss and Ride, taxis, and some parking. The project will also feature two residential buildings containing 469 units, a 196-room hotel, 25,000 sf of street-level retail adjacent to Colesville Road and Wayne Avenue, and a public plaza. When completed, the Center is expected to significantly enhance access to existing Metrorail, Metrobus, Ride-On, MARC rail, bus and taxi, and the Metropolitan Branch Trail, as well as the planned Purple Line. The private development is being handled by Silver Spring Metro Center Partnership/Foulger-Pratt Development, with architecture by Zimmer, Gunsul and Frasca.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Logan Circle's Wardman Row Buildings to Stay Affordable, Get Upgrades

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With the Logan Circle neighborhood gentrifying northward along 14th Street NW, and the concurrent redevelopment of the U Street corridor working its way downward, many wondered what fate was in store for the number of affordable housing buildings in this area. Once such development is the row of housing holding 124 units located along R Street just west of 14th Street. The answer is now clear, as the expected new purchasers of five of the seven buildings in the complex (1416, 1428, 1432, 1436 and 1440 R Street NW) are planning to implement more than $6 million worth of renovations once the sale is completed later this summer, and the units will be offered with more diverse income-level requirements than before.

Non-profit group NHT Enterprise and the Hampstead Development Corp. are believed to be paying current owner R Street Associates LP $11 million for the five buildings (1420 and 1424 R Street are not part of the deal, and are owned by another entity). The new owners have already requested funding from the DC Department of Housing and Community Development and the DC Housing Finance Agency toward the expected upgrades to the five 4-story buildings, which should begin this fall and continue for the following year. Residents will continue to live in the units during the work, which will include new kitchens and bathrooms, plus new roofs that incorporate "green" features.

The other major change will come with the income requirements for these units. Currently, the property owner receives federal subsidies to keep the units affordable, and the top threshold for these units is $28,350 for a family of four (30 percent and less of the area’s annual median income). Under the new ownership, residents will instead receive Section 8 vouchers which they can use to stay at these units, or to rent elsewhere. In addition, there will now be “tiers” of affordability, with 6 brand new carved-out units renting at market rate with no income restrictions; of the existing 124 units, 94 units will require a 60 percent and below annual median income, 24 units will require a 50 percent and below median, and 6 units will remain at 30 percent and below median.

The "Wardman Row" buildings have experienced a long and lively history. First built by Harry Wardman and architect Albert Beers in 1913-1914 in the Classical Revival style as affordable apartments, the buildings watched as the neighborhood fell on hard times after the riots of the late 1960s left 14th Street scarred. The buildings underwent renovations in the 1970s and 1980s, and were put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. They have since watched new shops and restaurants open on either side since the 1990s.

BNA Site Project Wins Zoning Approval

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On July 9, the DC Zoning Commission approved plans submitted by TRS Inc. to build its Planned Unit Development (PUD) at 1227-1231 25th Street NW, the West End site of the Bureau of National Affairs office, which is relocating to Crystal City. TRS is converting the three office buildings now on the lot (which is just above M Street NW along Rock Creek Park) into two connected condominium buildings (1229 and 1231) with four additional stories added on top, with the third building (1227) reserved for offices. The condominium portion will contain up to 295 residential units, including up to 8,000 sf as "affordable" housing. The project is expected to be completed in late 2008.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

NoMa Gets Its First Hotel

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On July 11, the usual DC official suspects (including Mayor Fenty) joined the ownership team headed by The Finvarb Group in breaking ground on the first new hotel squarely in the North of Massachusetts (NoMa) area in Northeast DC (usually delineated as being bounded by Massachusetts Avenue to the south, North Capitol Street to the west, Florida Avenue the north, and about 3rd Street NE to the east). The eight-story, 218-room Courtyard by Marriott will be located between the New York Avenue Metro station and the new US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) headquarters, and will feature 10,000 sf of ground-level retail, including at least one outdoor café. In addition, an elevator will provide direct access from the plaza between the hotel and the Metro station entrance to the elevated Metropolitan Branch bicycle and pedestrian trail running alongside the Metro track. The hotel will also be next to MRP Realty’s planned Washington Gateway project, and the Florida Avenue Market redevelopment.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

"What's Happening on East Capitol Street Near RFK?"

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In response to the throngs of rabid dcmud readers (of course, throng in the blog-based community being a few dedicated, astute readers) asking "what's the deal?" with a possible development site along East Capitol Street near RFK, we decided to take our jalopy down there to report back our findings. It appears that developer Comstock East Capitol LLC has some plans in store for 1705-1729 East Capitol Street SE, the site of a vacant, 80-unit apartment building (pictured) bounded by East Capitol Street SE to the north, 18th Street SE to the east, A Street SE to the south, and 17th Street SE to the west. The 42,629-total sf plot is directly across the street from Eastern High School and just blocks to the Stadium-Amory Metro and RFK. Comstock’s consolidated planned unit development (PUD) proposal indicates the company plans to demolish the abandoned structure and build a new five-story, 134-unit apartment building (11 being affordable housing), with a garage holding 113 parking spots. The developer has submitted an application to the DC Zoning Commission to upzone the property density to allow its project (the parcel is currently zoned R-4, but Comstock will need R-5 zoning to build at its proposed size). Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6A (ANC6A) originally went on record as opposing the zoning application for this project (in a 6-0 vote), noting that the size of the project was not in line with this residential neighborhood, as well as what it felt was an insufficient number of designated affordable units (it would like to see 20 percent (at least 26 units) be affordable housing). However, there is indication that the Commission is developing a working relationship agreement with Comstock where the developer will work with the Commission on ensuring the community’s voice is heard with the project, plus a possible donation by Comstock to Eastern High School and Eliot Junior High to improve their athletic fields. The public hearing on the zoning request has been repeatedly delayed, most recently the June 18 meeting. We will keep you up to date as we learn the fate of this project, and of course, please send any tidbits you have (or correct us) on any project you see in your neck of the woods!
(h/t on this story to commenter mr. x)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Silver Spring's Moda Vista Residences Project Expected to Be Approved

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While we have recently been fixated with the development lined up in south Silver Spring, we’d be remiss if we didn’t catch up with what’s happening northeast of the Red Line tracks and Georgia Avenue. The latest news arrives regarding the Moda Vista Residences project, a 1.27-acre development slated for the southeast corner of Fenton Street and Silver Spring Avenue (8115 Fenton Street), currently the site of parking lots and two detached homes. The Montgomery County Planning Board is expected next week to approve the project plan submitted by Fenton Development LLC, which calls for a five-story, 94-unit residential building (12 being moderately priced dwelling units) with 3,500 sf of ground-floor retail. The project also calls for an 8,331-sf plaza running along Silver Spring Avenue, plus two exterior public art displays on the site. In addition, the façade along Silver Spring Avenue is to gently transition downward to match the detached homes to the east of the project. An interesting side note is that this property lies in a possible path for the proposed Purple Line; if so, studies are underway that envision the Line going through a tunnel at this point and not affecting this project. There are no further details regarding groundbreaking or completion schedule for the project at this time.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Southeast’s "Blue Castle" Property Back On Market

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According to the Washington Business Journal, a much-eyed parcel of land near the Navy Yard and the new The Yards project and Nationals Ballpark in Southeast is back on the market. The almost 100,000-sf, Civil War-era “Blue Castle” building at 770 M Street SE (and the 1.6 acres it sits upon) is now owned by Preferred Real Estate Investments Inc. of Conshohocken, PA, which bought the property for $20.2 million in 2005. The current sale is being handled by Cassidy & Pinkard Colliers. Whoever the buyer is, they will inherit the current leases now being used through 2012 by charter schools Eagle Academy Public Charter and Kipp D.C.'s Key Academy. At that point, the property will most likely be redeveloped; the current zoning is for retail and office development of 214,000 sf. Cassidy & Pinkard Colliers has already reportedly received a number of proposals, though no decisions have been made at this time.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

"Historic Adaptive Reuse" for Woodley Park

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Woodley Park will soon have another condominium development, when the Woodley-Wardman project breaks ground later this year. Named after Harry Wardman, the man who developed much of its neighborhood, the Woodley-Wardman development will build approximately 36 units by restoring four historic townhouses and adding a 7-story building in back, between the public alley and the townhouses. Murillo/Malnati Group’s 33,000 s.f. residential project at 2814 Connecticut Avenue was designed by Bonstra/Haresign Architects, with interior design by Carina Lopez, to restore and subdivide rowhouses into condominium units. Plans for the four brick townhouses envision restorations of the three-story structures with gardens and front porch space. The tower behind the townhouses will include some brickwork, but will have a contemporary, rather than historic appearance, with long stretches of white and metal-framed rectangular windows and similar rectangular windows in the upper penthouse units that offer private terraces. The historic buildings, two of which are original Wardmans, will be reconfigured to offer several new units as well as entryway for the courtyard and midrise in the rear. The 37-unit condominium building will include approximately 22 underground and at-grade parking spaces, as well as private roof terraces and balconies. The project received approval from the Historic Preservation Review Board, as well as the Board of Zoning Appeal, for the development. Completion is slated for early 2009.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

New Changes at Rockville Town Square Project

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Back in April, we first reported that development team RD Rockville (ROSS Development and Investment and the DANAC Corporation), citing poor sales, had decided to switch one of the four condominium complexes (specifically, the Lunette building) in its $350 million, 12.5-acre Rockville Town Square project from condos to apartments, and had notified buyers of the decision. Now comes word that in late June, RD Rockville sold off three of these residential buildings (the Lunette, the Venetian and the Fenestra) to an affiliate of CIM Group of California. The sale, complete details of which have yet to be disclosed, was handled by Sonnenblick Goldman. The fourth building, the Palladian, is currently being sold as condominium units by RD Rockville. The Rockville Town Square project, containing 644 residential units and 180,000 sf of retail, is located along (and to the west of) Rockville Pike, just two blocks from the Rockville metro station, and bounded by Beall Avenue to the north, Washington Street to the west, and E. Middle Lane to the south. Design by WDG Architecture. Early indication is that CIM Group will offer the residential units in these three buildings (which contain 492 of the 644 total units between the four original buildings, plus retail) as rentals (management will be by Realty Management Services), with leasing expected to begin this month.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

For Sale - Silver Spring's The Blairs

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Interested in some property? OK – how about a lot of property, namely a large chunk of south Silver Spring residential and commercial property? Anyone with passing familiarity with Silver Spring is well aware of The Blairs, the massive mixed-use residential, retail and office complex located just south of East-West Highway (and the Silver Spring metro) and north of the DC line, bordered on the east and west by Colesville and Blair Mill Roads. Well, this past week property owner The Towers Cos. placed a “For Sale” in the window, the first time the complete 26-acre property has been put on the market since it was first developed in the 1960s. In total, The Blairs consists of 1,397 rental units spread between three hi-rises, garden apartments, and townhouses, 83,154 sf of retail space (including the Giant supermarket, CVS, and other stores in the shopping strip), and 69,517 sf of office space.

While the complex could simply change hands with residents not even noticing the switch (except for maybe a rent bump), it is interesting to note that the Cassidy & Pinkard sales flier indicates that the property could easily be expanded, stating that new development capacity could include 1,403 additional apartments, and 297,329 sf of new commercial space. Such expansion would certainly add a wrinkle to the already-significant level of development happening at this corner of East-West Highway and Blair Mill Road. Just east across Blair Mill is the still-selling, 151-unit Mica condo conversion, and rubbing shoulders with the Mica is the 96-unit The Argent project, which just broke ground last month at 1200 Blair Mill Road. Just northeast of The Blairs is the 247-unit 1200 East-West project, which broke ground in June, and across East-West Highway from this project is the 460-unit Silver Spring Gateway project. We might as well also go west and throw in the 1,020-unit Falkland North project at the corner of East-West Highway and 16th Street. The best investment of all, with this myriad development? One of those silvery Food Trucks that stops on the works sites twice a day to serve breakfast and lunch to the construction crews – now they will be doing brisk business for the next few years!

Monday, July 02, 2007

"Conversion Reversion" Hits Leesburg Project

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As mentioned in our "DC Condo Growth to Slow" column from Friday, the number of condominium units coming to market is less than originally projected, as developers pull back in the face of uncertain market perceptions and cancel new projects, or reverse plans to convert apartments to condo units. The latter progression – apartments to condos, then back to rentals, or "conversion reversion" – is what is now being reported for a major residential development in Leesburg. In 2005, Reston-based Comstock Homebuilding Cos. announced plans to convert Bellemeade Farms, a 316-unit garden apartment community located on Gateway Drive just off Route 7 that it had just purchased from Fairfield Residential, into condominium units. However, this past February the company, after upgrading a number of units and actually selling 58 condos in the new project, decided to scale back the number of condo conversions in the community. And now Comstock has decided to forgo the project completely, just last week closing on the $48 million sale of the community to Chicago-based Waterton Associates. Waterton will now develop the property as, once again, rentals. Waterton has also worked with Comstock to purchase back the already-sold-as-condo units. Rentals to condos to rentals … to who knows what next time – stay tuned.
 

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