Monday, March 31, 2008

Silver Spring Developer Requests Another Year

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Michael LLC, a relatively unknown developer which has been working to get Studio Plaza through the Montgomery review process since July, 2006, is now requesting that the Montgomery Planning Board extend their review period for one full year, ending June 7th, 2009. The project is planned to rise at the intersection of Georgia and Thayer Avenue in an area known as Fenton Village, in the heart of the Silver Spring Central Business District. The current preliminary design, courtesy of SK&I Architecture, provides for 525 residential units, 152,000 s.f. of office space, almost 60,000 s.f. of ground-floor retail and two underground parking garages, one private and one public, creating more than 900 spaces.

According to a letter from Linowes and Blocher LLP, the development firm's counsel, "a further extension of time is required and appropriate to ensure administrative efficiency for all concerned." The Montgomery National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) will be hearing the request at their April 3rd meeting.

The delay became inevitable when Michael began negotiations with Montgomery County to add adjacent public land, Parking Lot 3, to the Studio Plaza site. The goal was to fold that parcel into the original application as a revised project plan, but the Maryland Transit Authority halted the land disposition - MTA was preserving Lot 3 for possible incorporation into the purple line. Now that MTA has ruled out use of the site, Montgomery County and Michael are working to iron out a general development agreement, which will integrate both properties into one development. If approved, this would be the second one-year extension for Studio Plaza.

Michael's lawyers argued that a time extension is further justified given the rather complicated alleyway system that exists on Lot 3 and that a bulk of the extension would be used in deciphering the amount of usable land. "The abandonment process [of the alleys] will likely require 6-9 months from filing to resolve...Only then, knowing exactly what land is available on Parking Lot 3, will [Michael] be able to re-design the project accordingly," argued Linowes and Blocher attorney C. Roberty Dalrymple, in a letter to Rose Krasnow, Chief of the Development Review Division at MNCPPC.

The development firm has an option - they acquire the land and file a new application. But there's a catch - the original application was submitted before December 1, 2006, which happens to be the date that the Montgomery Workforce Housing bill became effective, requiring all future residential building applications to incorporate 'affordable housing.' In a rather biting response letter, which refers to Michael's year-long extension request as 'inappropriate,' Rose Krasnow clearly outlined Michael's dilemma: "Any residential buildings in the revised proposal that were not included in the original July 25, 2006 submission, or in any new application, will, at a minimum, be fully subject to Workforce Housing requirements." This requires Michael to maintain the original 'filed' status of the Project Plan and amend it, rather than start from scratch, in order to be grandfathered under the old rules.

Elza Hisel-McCoy, a Site Plan Reviewer at MNCPPC, presents the damned-if-you-do set of options: "From our perspective, if the applicant was going to provide the worforce housing for the units in the original proposal, I think we'd be willing to support the extension of time," Hisel-McCoy stated. It is now up to the Planning Board to decide whether the time extension will be granted, or whether Michael will indeed have to re-file.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Monterey: A Condo Odyssey Ends

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The Monterey, which once threatened to add 432 condo units in North Bethesda, has been passed on to a fourth owner this week, to a team comprised of DC-based Federal Capital Partners and New York-based Angelo, Gordon & Co. The team purchased the site for $97 million, or roughly $225,000 per unit, from CBRE Realty Finance.

The 550,000-s.f. building, originally dating from the '60s as the Pavilion Apartments, underwent a condo conversion and began selling units in early 2006, under the leadership of Annapolis-based Triton Real Estate Partners, which purchased the 16-story property in 2005. But in 2007, before having settled any of the condominium sales, Triton defaulted on their loan and CBRE obtained full ownership. After getting the 40-something condo buyers to relinquish their contracts, CBRE's Paul Martin told DCMud last December that his plan was to position the building as a rental property and eventually sell it.

Now, with the title in hand, Federal Capital Partners is planning to complete the unfinished renovation work that Triton began in its attempt to pitch the building as a condo, and convert the building back to apartments. Triton's addition of granite countertops, hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances obviously weren't enough, so FCP and Angelo Gordon, plan to "re-establish The Monterey as the premier Class-A apartment community on Rockville Pike." Prices initially ranged from the low $300's to the mid $800's, and together with the planned facade renovation reportedly drove the price tag of the whole project up to $45m the last time around. In its current incarnation, the new owners will add a slew of "luxury" finishes, including upgrades to common areas and a host of other "Class A amenities." The developers plan to finish within a year.

“The Monterey is an outstanding asset in a proven location. Access to capital and experience repositioning highrise apartments allowed us to structure a deal that appealed to the senior lender, the mezzanine lender, and contractors left stranded by a failed condo conversion. It helped that none of the apartments ever sold as condominiums and that a substantial part of the property was renovated to Class-A condo standards," said Lacy Rice, a partner at FCP.

North Bethesda real estate development news

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Jamieson Condo in Carlyle Opens for Sales

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The Jamieson Condominium, Alexandria's newest residential building, garnered attention today by officially holding its grand opening this evening. The 79-unit Jamieson started selling its condos from the $300s; the residences will occupy 6 floors above a 10-story, four-star Westin Hotel in the Carlyle section of Alexandria.

The condo-hotel, located about 3 blocks from the King Street Metro station and clad in the ubiquitous red brick of Carlyle, officially opened the hotel to guests last November. The developer, Atlanta-based Regent Partners, is banking that extending four-star treatment to condominium owners through hotel services will lure buyers to its project, as happened in Arlington's Waterview Condominium, which sits above the hotel Palomar in Rosslyn and recently sold out of its 136 condo units. Regent built the 319-bed unit on land it purchased from Norfolk Southern in 2004

"Regent Partners is excited to bring this unique lifestyle option to Old Town Alexandria. The only condo/hotel highrise in Alexandria, The Jamieson is designed to offer residents luxuriously finished condominium homes and the advantages that come with living above a hotel like the Westin Alexandria," said Kristi Trogler, director of Sales & Marketing with Regent Partners. Units range in size from 700 to more than 1,000 s.f.

DC Kicks Off Minnesota Metro Development

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Mayor Adrian Fenty announced yesterday that that the District has issued a solicitation of bidders for a five-acre lot adjacent to the Minnesota Avenue Metrorail station. The chosen team will have the opportunity to build up to 600,000-s.f., though the city has not specified the type of development, leaving open options for a mixed-use development of office, retail, and housing.


According to Sean Madigan of DC's Office of Planning, "We don't have a firm idea of what we're looking for, in terms of whether the development should be pure office building with street-level retail, or just have a retail focus, or housing focus. We really are looking to the development community to see what is really possible there." The site is adjacent to the future location of the Department of Employment Services' newly announced headquarters, a 230,000-s.f. building at the northwest corner of Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road NE, which will include ground-floor retail and and underground garage.

Potential bidders for the site are required to include a 20 percent equity partnership with
Local, Small and Disadvantage Business Enterprises. The chosen development partner must also show an effort to include Ward Seven contractors and businesses in their plans. The area is already under revitalization - it sits amidst about four million s.f. of new projects at Parkside and Ward Seven, and the city is pumping about $40 million into the neighborhood through the Great Streets Initiative. A new Benning Road Library may also be popping up soon in the neighborhood.

"It couldn't be better located," Madigan said. "The city sees this as a great site because it is located right there at the Metro, and is a really prominent corner at Minnesota and Benning. It really is the gateway into that part of
Ward 7." Proposals are due by May 6th; the city hopes to narrow down their choices by the end of the summer.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Deanwood Developer Announced, 1500 Units to Follow

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Today, Mayor Fenty stood in Deanwood before a forlorn 4427 Hayes Street, NE and announced that Blue Skye Development has been awarded the contract to renovate and develop the building. Blue Skye will turn the shell, vacant for the past 12 years, into 26 apartment units (rendering pictured). The project originally started as 'affordable condos' by defunct NCRC several years ago but never got off the ground.

Though the project has been long sought by District planners, its renovation is really a sideshow to the larger development this will permit. Hayes Street will serve as temporary housing to families in the Lincoln Heights and Richardson Communities, two projects that can be revitalized under the New Communities Initiative, now that the District will have, in Hayes Street, replacement housing for residents of the two needy communities. Under the DC Housing Authority, the agency which owns both Lincoln Heights and Richardson, suitable replacement housing must be found before renovation work on existing housing can begin.

Back in 2006, the District began working with residents from both the Lincoln Heights and Richardson Dwellings neighborhoods, an area between 48th Place 57th Streets off East Capitol Street. In the fourth quarter 2006, the DC Council officially adopted the Lincoln Heights/Richardson Dwellings New Community Revitalization Plan, which would transform the public housing developments and the surrounding neighborhood into a mixed-income, mixed-use community. The District plans to bring at least 1,500 units of new housing, loads of retail, urban spaces, public facilities and transportation infrastructure to the area, as well has constructing a "vibrant mixed-used town center." Even more complex is the new residential street grid which the District is planning for the area, which is being viewed as one of the most essential steps to properly integrating the neighborhood into the surrounding areas.

"The building behind me represents the past for DC...the untapped potential found in great neighborhoods," started Fenty, who went on to commend Blue Skye both for winning the contract and for being a 100% Local Small Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (LSDBE) that currently employs 20 Lincoln Heights residents and offers 30 apprenticeship positions for Lincoln Heights youth.

The redevelopment work at 4427 Hayes Street should start within the coming months. A keyed up Councilmember Yvette Alexander spoke about the imminent transformation of the area: "We're going to bring back the Nanny Helen Boroughs and Deanwood Communities that people once knew."

The District's Best Buy

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Just a few weeks after the opening of the city's first Target store, in Columbia Heights, Best Buy is set to open in the same retail complex, the DC USA Center, helping to make the center the largest retail space in the District. The office of Councilmember Jim Graham announced that the ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place Thursday on site - 3100 14th St. NW, at 6pm. This will be the second Best Buy to open in the District, following three years after the success of its first store other in Tenleytown. The store has stressed their commitment to offering employment to members of nearby communities and helping local non-profits.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

DC Gets Mad Loot from the Feds for Sheridan Terrace

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Mayor Fenty announced today that Washington DC is the proud recipient of a $20 million Department of Housing and Urban Development grant, to be used for the redevelopment of the Sheridan Terrace housing project in Ward 8. The announcement fits in nicely with the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development's New Communities Initiative, which has the task of increasing the housing supply. Sheridan Terrace is planned to house 336 units of brand new mixed-income housing. Through the use of some complex financing, the DC Housing Authority in partnership with the William C. Smith Companies, will leverage the grant money to create the entire $100 million financing package needed to complete the new construction.

Sheridan Terrace was once a vibrant (ahem), 183-unit, public-housing community in Ward 8, but was demolished in 1997 because of sub-optimal conditions due to flooding. The 336 units that are now planned will be broken up into 70 stacked townhomes, 110 townhouses, 56 manor homes (whatever those are) and a 100-unit apartment complex.

“These grants have been a great tool in helping turn around some of our most challenged communities. This most recent grant is truly significant in that it will not only provide hundreds of much needed new housing in Ward 8, but it will play a significant role in helping us move forward with our nearby Barry Farm/Park Chester/Wade Road New Community,” said the Mayor, who is referring to the relocation possibilities that the new housing complex will offer to current residents of Barry Farm, now slated for demolition (the building, that is, not the residents).

The grant, in fact, is meant primarily as a relocation space for current residents of Barry Farms, while their neighborhood is being demolished and rebuilt as a "new community," and has the added benefit of increasing the overall housing supply in Ward 8. The District's plan for Barry Farm includes more than 1,100 units of new housing, both workforce and market-rate, as well as a school, community center and plenty of urban space.

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Town at Capitol City, a Neighborhood Takes Shape

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Ten years from now, today may be cited as the day a cool, close-in neighborhood was given life. Tonight, DC's Zoning Commission will hear Gateway Market Center Inc's development proposal for the northwest corner of the intersection of 4th Street and Florida Avenue, NE. The building under review is one small piece of a grandiose plan to create an entire mini-city dubbed New Town at Capital City Market, which would replace 24 acres of industrial land in a neighborhood bounded by Florida and New York Avenues, just west of Gallaudet University.

Gateway, a subsidiary of Sang Oh Development, LLC, is not looking for project approval at this stage, but seeks action from the Commission to 'set down', or initiate, the zoning review process. Gateway Inc. would have been well on their way to realizing this project, as they had gone through very much the same steps more than a year ago in January of 2007. But the Commission deferred that case anticipating the results from the Florida Avenue Area Study, not wanting to approve the project without an up-to-date market analysis of the neighborhood. Now that the plan results are almost ready to be released, Gateway is going through the same routine, in the hopes of a better outcome the second time around.

Sang Oh Development partnered with the District, which got initial approval by the DC Council in December of 2006. In theory, New Town would create 3.4 million s.f. of new space including more than 1,500 residences, two hotels, 1 million s.f. of wholesale, retail and restaurant space, and plenty of outdoor spaces. The entire construction of DC's newest mini-city would cost an estimated $1.2 billion; or, about equal to 13 minutes of the Iraq war, to put it in perspective. Perhaps due to opposition against the District's decision finding a development partner in Sang Oh Choi, a virgin to the development world, a joint-venture was formed in June of 2007 between NY-based Apollo Real Estate Advisors, an international real estate fund manager, and Choi's development firm. Still, not everyone is contented with the planned development; not the least of which is the group of wholesalers that currently occupy the thriving warehouse site, one of the few remaining industrial sites near downtown.

Tonight's meeting will not serve to review the larger-in-scope plan for New Town, just the building at 4th and Florida, which is planned to be a single, mixed-use building, measuring 120 ft. in height, and serve as the gateway to New Town. The gateway building will be home to 116 'luxury' residential units, 40,000 s.f. of retail and about 60,000 s.f. of class A office space totaling about 300,000 s.f. of new real estate which will sit atop 200 underground parking spaces, half of which will be for residents of the building. The building is self-described as being the "cornerstone for further redevelopment of the greater Capital City Market site."

New Condo Opens on Capitol Hill

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The developer of Capitol Hill's newest real estate development has announced it has completed construction and will hold its public opening this weekend. The Butterfield House, at 1020 Pennsylvania Avenue, had already sold about half the 28 units in the building during pre-construction; the developer had been making final improvements over the past month to complete the building.

SGA Companies, a Bethesda-based firm performing both architecture and multi-family development, converted the site from a gas station and auto repair shop to a condominium over the past two years. SGA both designed and developed the Butterfield House, in what is likely to be the last new condo on Capitol Hill proper for the next few years, with no other new construction in the development pipeline on the Hill. About 2650 new condominium units are likely to reach delivery in DC within the next two years, nearly 60% of which will be concentrated in Mt. Vernon Triangle, the new stadium area, and the U Street corridor.

The developer will hold the Butterfield House Grand Opening on Saturday and Sunday, March 22 and 23rd, to celebrate what it hopes will be one of the more iconic buildings on Capitol Hill due to its design and address on Pennsylvania Avenue. The new condo sits just two blocks from the Eastern Market Metro station, and advertises such features as cork sound remediation layering between the floor and subfloor, reclaimed wide-plank cherry floors, underground parking, and video entry systems. Condos range in price from about $350,000 to over $1m. Sales and marketing by DCRealEstate.com.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Florida Rock Gets Zoning OK

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Riverfront on the Anacostia received a long-awaited approval from the Zoning Commission yesterday for its proposed action for the 'Floria Rock' concrete plant lot, a major step forward for the lot that borders both the new National's Stadium and the Anacostia waterfront. The site is currently home to an active concrete production plant, which some planners apparently believe is not the optimal use of riverfront space so close to the ballpark. Florida Rock Properties has to wait until May 22nd before final action can be taken for the second stage of their P.U.D., construction could begin as early as 2009.

The Florida Rock lot, spanning 5.8 acres along the Anacostia River, has been under Zoning review since 1998, when the initial application was filed to revitalize the site and convert it to a mixed-use project. The final product looks far different from when it orginally started a decade ago, and now encompasses four buildings totalling 1.1 million s.f., which will together sit on a single, underground parking platform holding more than 1,000 spaces. There will be a total of 460,000 s.f. of office space, 80,000 s.f. of retail space, and 323,000 s.f. of residential space, apparently enough for over 300 units, with 25 units set aside for affordable housing. The 4th building will be a 325-bed hotel, all to sit behind a 719 ft. waterfront esplanade and riverwalk. FRP promises that the entire complex will be LEED Certified at some level.

According to Michael Stevens, Executive Director of Capitol Riverfront BID, one of FRP's requirements per the PUD is to build the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, a 20 mile series of boardwalk spanning both sides of the river, and running from the Arboretum to the southwest waterfront on the north side. Only the portion fronting the Navy yard has been completed, but even that is not yet open to the public. Stevens predicts that the first leg could be open as soon as this year. But don't get out your rollerblades yet, the Florida Rock section is at least a few years away, as is Forest City's crucial link, though their site should see construction begin this year.

A brief history of the development: The first plan for the site was preliminarily approved in 1998 for FRP to build a commercial project, and received final approval in 1999 for two buildings with a 55 ft. wide waterfront esplanade, but - perhaps fortuitously - the project never got off the ground. After a series of delays, the case was set to go before Zoning in September, 2004, but before the firm could have their day, the District announced the Nationals' Stadium which would be built right across the street. The Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, the governing body overseeing development over the new stadium-area, requested FRP delay their P.U.D. re-submission so the two entities could coordinate. Finally in August of 2006, a modified P.U.D. was submitted, with a hearing following in September.

The new project reviewed at the September meeting has essentially stayed the same. The modified P.U.D., appropriately dubbed 'Stage 2', was a rethinking of the now extremely valuable waterfront property. It included four buildings: two offices, a hotel and a residential component. But Zoning outlined some problems with the plan. For starters, one Commissioner stated that the project "lacked the right civic character and [a] greater presence of residential uses, preferably apartment units, would be more appropriate." The rest of the commission agreedthat the project lacked a 'sense of place'. Along with these comments came recommendations for some minor tweaks, including complaints about the East Office building inadequately 'recognizing the location and nature of the grand stair of the stadium'.

FRP went back to the drawing board, and came back in July of 2007 with some modifications; by September some project changes and the new name had been agreed upon, which developers described as a "holistic rethinking of the P.U.D. proposal previously considered, especially regarding the civic spaces." Three public spaces were added to the project, all having retail borders: the Pitch to the east, an enclosed galleria called Potomac Quay, and an outdoor water-animated plaza called Cascade Plaza. Along with this new civic character, FRP engaged in a 'physical tightening of the buildings', increasing the residential uses by more than 100,000 s.f., and shifting the footprints of the East Office building to link the site to the stadium and Anacostia river. Zoning's comments were less biting after September's hearing.

Since September's meeting, FRP and architect Davis Buckley Architects and Planners, made minor changes to the P.U.D. for their February 28th re-submission, and which Zoning approved yesterday. The changes included significant details regarding the outdoor public spaces. The old 'Pitch' will now be called Anacostia Place, and adorned with a Raymond Kaskey sculpture called "Anacostia," it will now be considered the central focus of the east end of the project. Zoning Commissioners want it to be a "high energy and visually-active space." Cascade Plaza will, alternatively be the central focus of the west end, serving as a front door and circular driveway for the residential, West Office and hotel buildings.

14th Street: Apartments In, Nehemiah Center Out

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14th Street's Nehemiah Center, that vestige of bad architecture and short-sited urban planning, will soon be demolished to make way for a large residential project. Texas based UDR, which purchased the site last year, requested raze permits last week, and expects to begin demolishing the property by the end of the second quarter. UDR acquired the hopelessly outdated strip mall at 2400 14th Street from Level 2 Development, which took the project all the way through the existing, and currently approved, P.U.D. stage. UDR will implement Level2's plans, with some embellishment, at an estimated total cost of $130 million. DC-based Metropolis Development had initially purchased the option from Level2 for the rights to develop the site, but later sold the option for a profit to UDR.



The Nehemiah Center currently serves as a one-story retail building along 14th Street, within shouting distance from the U Street Corridor - currently a real estate hotspot surrounded by several ongoing and planned residential projects. Level 2 wanted to capitalize on the area, but opted to sell and concentrate on its View 14 project across the street, a project that it began as condos but that is now just beginning to come out of the ground as an apartment building. UDR's adaption of Level2's plans will replace the old retail with 17,000 s.f. of new retail, and add more units than the currently approved 225. Two weeks ago, UDR's team met with City officials to apply for an addition of 30 residential units to the overall scheme. The firm expects to receive comments regarding whether this increase is feasible within the next month, after which a Zoning Commission hearing will be required.

The building will rise nine stories above the 14th and U Street Corridor, advantageously perched as one of the higher buildings in the area on the slope that rises to Columbia Heights, offering the potential for the distant views rare in the District. The residential units will average 775 s.f. and were initially pushed through the planning process as condominiums, but according to sources at UDR, the market forced them to build out as a market-rate apartment building. There will be a number of affordable housing units as well as a 1,000-s.f. commercial space designated as educational, job training, retail space.


Behind the main building will sit a multi-level parking garage, half above-ground, an issue that has been one of the biggest sources of problems from the community. UDR held a public meeting in February to address the community's concerns about design and construction phases. Turns out the community is agitated over the abundant road and sidewalk closures that result from the numerous projects in the neighborhood. UDR will now phase the construction so that the parking structure would be the first to be completed, hoping to lessen parking and traffic concerns.

"Although we are a national multi-family developer, we understand the importance of local consultants who understand how things get done in their backyard. We want to bring people in who have those existing great relationships, who know how to develop projects in the city. So we felt comfortable," said Rodney Burchfield with UDR. Burchfield is referring to both Shalom Baranes Architects which is designing the new building, and Donohoe Construction, the General Contractor. "As an owner, we're looking to be a part of this new and emerging part of the District, and we want to be a great neighbor," Burchfield added.


Shalom Baranes' design will feature floor to ceiling glass views, private terraces, a rooftop pool and garden as well as a massive lobby and outdoor atrium. UDR will be going for LEED points but has not decided whether or not to strive for LEED certification.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

District Announces Developer Submissions for Mt. Vernon

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The District announced Tuesday that its solicitation to develop a vacant half-acre site at Fifth and Eye streets (I Street, to purists), NW, in Mt. Vernon Triangle, grabbed the attention of seven developers. Deputy Mayor Neil O. Albert announced the names of the development teams that responded to the January Request for Proposal; bids were due March 7.

The District received proposals from Buccini/Pollin Group; Clark Realty Capital (which recently won the Poplar Point bid); Donohoe Development Co and Holland Development Group; JBG Cos.; MVT Associates, LLC; NDC-Jarvis; and Potomac Investment Properties, Inc.

"This is really one of the last sites left in the Mount Vernon Triangle," Albert said, speaking of the lot that will almost certainly have competition nearby, as several developments have been announced in the immediate vicinity. "This neighborhood has basically sprung up overnight and this site presents a great opportunity to add some dynamic uses to better serve the existing community and the new mix of office, retail and housing." The site will have the advantage of high visibility on Massachusetts Avenue, making it a dream at least for the marketers.

Proposals for the site include high-end retail such as hotels, restaurants, cafes, fitness clubs, spas and live entertainment venues. Some also included a residential aspect with apartments and condominiums (didn't they get the word that no one would finance condos?), which would include 30% affordable housing, according to the District's rules. Each plan featured underground parking with 100-plus spaces.

NDC-Jarvis proposed building a luxury boutique hotel connected to upscale condominiums (see rendering below), with the pair sharing concierge services and amenities. Proposed retail included a small home furnishings store, an upscale restaurant to serve the hotel and neighborhood. A small jazz performance venue would also be on the site.





"I think we are very invested in this neighborhood," said Adrian Washington, Principal with NDC, and former Anacostia Waterfront Commission frontman, whose current company has performed a number of apartment renovations and conversions throughout DC. "I think our proposal would be a great addition to neighborhood. It's the type of development that is not in the neighborhood right now. It is a boutique, high-end, architecturally distinctive project. And the restaurant would be a great addition to the neighborhood."

Robert Holland of Holland Development Group, co-developer with Donohoe Development Co., said their design would include a Shalom Baranes-designed hotel. "As far as I know, many of the developers were proposing hotel/apartments, a mixed-use development, with some local neighborhood retail," Holland said. "Our difference is that we have identified a Spanish hotel chain to go in there, along with a 10,000-s.f. restaurant jazz venue. It's a London-based established jazz club, not a big commercial destination jazz club, but more local, with very excellent food. It should be a great a compliment to the neighborhood."

Mount Vernon Triangle spans 15 blocks over 30 acres, and already includes more than four million square feet of development, such as CityVista, which is well into the back nine of its 441-unit condo project next door.

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development will study the proposals over the next few weeks and will schedule a public meeting for the community to hear presentations from each of the development teams.

Washington DC real estate development news

Arlington's Westover Apartments on Schedule for Renovation

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AHC Inc. looks ready to begin construction on its 152-unit Westover Apartment complex. AHC, a nonprofit developer and property management firm based out of Arlington, has had plans to modernize at 1649 N. Longfellow Street for more than two years now. Initially the firm was going to spruce up their property by demolishing the center building in the eight-structure complex and rebuild it to hold more apartments with larger living spaces, but because of Historic Preservation requirements, AHC will have to settle for renovating the entire complex at a total development cost of $50 million. The tri-phase revitalization effort is currently being privately bid by General Contractors, which will end on April 7; phase one of renovations is set to begin this summer.

Under earlier plans, AHC would have demolished the roughly 32,000-s.f. center building and constructed a 5-story, 110,000-s.f. building in its place, but decided in the Spring of last year to forego demolitions and simply renovate all of the buildings and their units instead. "Building the new building was not feasible," said Joe Weatherly, project manager at AHC. "The historic folks here in Arlington did not want us to demolish 'building 5,' It was really a component of the historic requirements, and the rezoning of that piece of land, which currently does not allow for density like that." All eight buildings in the complex are 'historic' because they were built in 1939.

Finance also played into the decision; because the allowable density would have been so low for the new construction - the new building would have been five stories but would have required a more expensive steel frame by local code - there was no way to justify the construction expense or the amount of time necessary to fight density critics.

The renovation process, based on the interior designs from Neale Architects of Alexandria, will be divided into three phases, which should total about 18 months beginning this summer. Each phase will renovate roughly 50 residences, most of which are two-story, townhouse-style units. AHC will be giving all the mechanical, plumbing and electrical infrastructures an overhaul and add new cabinetry and appliances. In addition, AHC will eliminate the centralized boiler system and replace it with individual HVAC units. Finally, after the entire complex gets a window replacement, the firm will add a single new unit to the complex, which will be created out of the old management office - AHC's new office will be built in the basement of one of the buildings and will hold the management and maintenance headquarters, as well as a community recreation center.

"From the outside, if you look at the buildings now and you come back and look at the buildings when we're done, you're really not going to see a substantial difference. The biggest difference will be on the interiors and the infrastructure" added Weatherly. The project is estimated for completion by 4th quarter of 2009.

Addendum: Catherine Bucknam, Director of Community Relations at AHC, gave us insight into her firm's plan to take care of the current residents: "The relocation team is working with residents to minimize disruption for those residents living on the property. Our strategy has been that, as vacancies have come up over the last six or seven months, we have not rented them out so that we could move families to those vacant units when we start construction in the sections where they're living."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

NoMa Torch Passes to Camden

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Another NoMa site is getting ready for an imminent groundbreaking: Camden USA's site at 60 L Street, NE, is nearing construction, with Clark Residential Group now seeking contractors, with bids due March 27th. Camden purchased the lot only in February of last year - the third developer to take ownership of the property within the year's first few months. Now, just over a year later, Camden is bringing that project to fruition. According to sources at Clark, the plan is to be in the ground by the the second quarter.

The project, augmenting NoMa's square footage count by about 682,000 s.f., will squeeze in between NPR's new headquarters at 1111 N. Capitol Street to the west, and Tishman Speyer's dual phase project at 1100 and 1150 First Street to the east. The project will sit close to Archstone's residential and retail building across Pierce Street to the north and Bristol Group's NoMa Station just across 1st street.

Camden will build in two phases, breaking ground first on the south side of the block to construct a 300,000-s.f., 319-unit apartment building with ground floor retail befitting a full-service restaurant and a fast food restaurant. Phase two will add 400,000 s.f. more of residential space, adding roughly 407 residential units to the mix, and roughly doubling the amount of retail space. Camden will also build more than 450 parking spaces in a three-level underground garage.

John Albright, principal at WDG Architecture, described the project: "We decided to design a modern apartment building which would contribute to the emerging modern context of new architecture in the NOMA district. Particular goals were addressing the all-glass office building being built to the east (Tishman Speyer's building) in the same block and maximizing the views in the south facing units. Maximizing the views involves increasing the glass area of the façade and this naturally leads to a more modern expression. The non vision areas of the façade were addressed compositionally as layers which allowed for the largest glass expanse toward the eastern corner adjacent to the all-glass office and becoming less glass, but incorporating bay windows toward the west giving each unit a corner window. The bay window tiers were punctuated with outdoor patios and the fronts angled to provide a variety of unit types and architectural detail on the L Street elevation. The design also includes a high degree of tenant amenity including restaurant, retail, fitness club, landscaped courtyard and roof top pool.”

“Camden is excited to be a part of the revitalization that is occurring in the NoMa neighborhood. With the combination of the large users that have committed to the area including EEOC, ATF, NPR and DOJ along with the other large high-end residential, office and mixed-use developments we feel NoMa will soon be a vibrant 24 hour community. In addition, we feel that Camden NoMa is going to be a great addition to our portfolio in the District. With its modern design and high-end amenities it will be a nice complement to our existing communities that were historic rehabs," announced Ginger Ackiss, Vice President of Real Estate Investments at Camden.

Work on the first phase should be completed in late 2010, the second phase will follow will follow shortly thereafter.

Harris Teeter Puts Steak in NoMa

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The NoMa BID (yes, more NoMa coverage) and StonebridgeCarras announced this past weekend that Harris Teeter will occupy 50,000 s.f. of space in a 20 year lease at Constitution Square. The development, at the corner of 1st and M Streets, NE, is adjacent to the New York Avenue Metro station. Stonebridge is expected to break ground in April, with the grocer likely to open its doors in late 2010 or early 2011. HT is the first committed occupant of One Constitution Square, which will also house 440 apartments, 340,000 s.f. of office space, and an additional 30,000 s.f. of retail. Stonebridge had recently announced that DOJ would take up 88% of the leasable office space at Two Constitution Square.

The District government also partnered on the project by providing tax incentives to help finance parking for 150 cars. Bethesda's SK&I Architectural Group designed the retail and residential portion of the project.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Old Convention Center Site, New Designs

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Wondering what was going on at the old Convention Center site? We were too, so we asked around. Plans for the Old Washington Convention Center Site Redevelopment continue to move forward in the design phase, as Developer Hines Archstone, along with architects Foster and Partners (of London) and Shalom Baranes Associates square away more details on their 10.2 acre site, bound by New York Avenue and 9th, H, and 11th Streets.

The $850 million office, retail, and housing redevelopment deal is the largest undeveloped property south of Massachusetts Avenue, in what DC's administrators hope will be a thriving, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly center.

Included in the plans are, at a minimum, 25o,000-s.f. of retail, two office buildings totaling 465,000-s.f., two apartment buildings, two condominium projects, and 1900 parking spaces in underground garages. Each of the Class "A" office buildings will rise 11 stories and offer - uniquely for DC - two levels of retail. The two buildings (see rendering below) will be connected through an enclosed glass bridge at the third story. Each is designed to include double height lobbies with stone walls and floors, and an exterior shaded curtainwall and an atrium on each will face each other.

The residential portion will be divided into two apartment buildings with 455 rental units, and two condo buildings with 215 for-sale units, 20% of which will be affordable housing. Each rental building will be eleven stories high with one level of retail, with a pool on the fifth floor of one. The exterior will be adorned with terra cotta precast panels and a curtain wall system. Residents will apparently have ample terraces and courtyards, with additional landscaping on the roof. Like the offices, the pair of apartment buildings will be joined on the second story with an enclosed pedestrian bridge.

Moving on to the condominiums, at ten and 11 stories in height, architects again envision two full floors of retail, joined on the third story by, yes, an open pedestrian walkway. The building will also feature two floors of retail and elaborate landscaping on the roof, terraces, and courtyards. Two new streets will be created to have the effect of shrinking the blocks and providing better pedestrian access for the retail, and the northwest corner of the parcel will feature most of the 1.5 acres designated as open public space. A central plaza will sit in the middle of the four residential buildings, with fountains and landscaping, connecting to the street with paved pedestrian alleyways.

This past November, the city traded a parcel on the northeast corner of the site to developer Kingdon Gould III for a piece of land close to the new convention center, on the site now planned for the much anticipated Marriott. What Gould will choose to do with this plot of land is still unclear, as is an additional 100,000-s.f. on the site is still controlled by the city, according to Sean Madigan of DC's Office of Planning. Originally, talk of putting in a new central library was on the table, a goal of former Mayor Anthony Williams, although the city is now considering new options: additional retail in the form of an anchor store, another mixed-use development, or an entertainment venue. The city has not ruled out the possibility renting or selling the land to a developer, a decision that will reportedly be made within the next two or three months.

Hines Archstone is hoping to receive the Gold or Platinum rating for LEED certification on the office buildings, while expecting a Silver rating for the residential buildings. The project as a whole was accepted into the LEED Neighborhood Development certification, a pilot program of the U.S. Green Building Council.

"This is a tremendous milestone for the city and the Hines Archstone-Smith team," said William B. Alsup III, senior vice president for Hines Interests. "With the closing of the legal documentation with the City and approval of the schematic design, we will continue to work collaboratively with the city and its agencies to complete the detailed plans and specifications and secure the necessary building permits to enable us to begin construction by this time next year."

"This project is going to be a true city center - our downtown retail anchor - befitting a world-class city," Mayor Adrian Fenty said in a press release recently. "We are creating a place, designed by one of the world's most pre-eminent architects, which will complete the recent transformation of our downtown." Space will be offered to both national and local retailers, with 30% set aside for those with six or fewer stores in the country. Over half of the 2,500 new permanent jobs created are required to be given to qualified DC residents.

Planning has been taking place for over four years at this point. After months of hearing community input, the Deputy Mayor's Office of Planning and Economic Development approved the master plan for the site in October 2006. The District and Hines Archstone closed on their deal in December, which included approval of schematic design, zoning, and financial details, and presented revised designs and plans on January 10. Developers are now putting the final touches on designs, and will begin bidding and permitting by November. They expect to break ground in January 2009, and after the downtown endures a 35 month construction period, we can all look forward to completion in July 2011.


"This long-awaited project will set new precedents and rival the best live, work, shop, and play urban mixed-use developments the nation has seen to-date," gushed Ken Miller, senior vice president of Archstone-Smith. "This development will further the transformation of our Nation's Capital into one of the most thriving, dynamic, and culturally rich cities in America."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Northwest One Unfolds

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On Monday, DC finally began work on the Northwest One site, the ambitious but still conceptual site located across the street from NoMa, on the northwest side of North Capitol Street. DC Mayor Adrian Fenty initiated the first groundbreaking of Northwest One by commencing demolition of Terrell Junior High School, at 1000 1st St. NW, making space for a new $47 million mixed use facility including a new school, library, and recreation center. The Northwest One site is bounded on the east by North Capitol, on the west by New Jersey Ave., and on the south by K Street. The District, through Forrester Construction, will replace the junior high and the distressed Sursum Corda and Temple Courts housing projects, which haven't been doing much to bring up property values in the neighborhood.

The next stage of development will be to demolish Temple Court, which the District bought last summer and has begun relocating tenants in anticipation of tearing down the building this summer; both housing projects remain mostly occupied at this point. Ordinarily, the District would build replacement housing before evacuation of existing subsidized housing, but according to Sean Madigan of DC's Office of Planning, the condition of the projects is "so bad" that the Fenty administration decided to purge and demolish immediately.

The District currently owns most of the entire development site, part of which was acquired when it took control of and disbanded NCRC last year; the remainder is owned by the DC Housing Authority.
Late last year, the District selected One Vision Development Partners, a joint venture between William C. Smith, Jair Lynch, Banneker Ventures, and CPDC, as its development partner for the entire project. Details of the project - both the scope of development and compensation to the development team - have yet to be finalized, but the team has proposed the construction of more than 1,600 new apartments, condos and townhouses priced for mixed-income buyers and renters, as well as a 21,000-s.f. clinic, about 40,000 s.f. of retail and 220,000 s.f. of office space. According to Madigan, an increase in density and the "right mix" will be crucial to the success of the project. Once the administration comes to an agreement with the developer, the project will be placed on the lap of the city Council for approval.

Immediately replacing Terrell Junior High will be the Walker Jones school, library, recreation center and athletic fields, a project that Mayor Fenty described as being "a first-class facility from top to bottom." "If we are to expect excellence from our students we've got to provide great facilities that promote an integrated environment for learning," Fenty added Monday during his on-site speech. According to the Office of Planning and Economic Development, Walker Jones will be one of the first new schools constructed during Fenty's reign, and it will be ready, says he, in time for the kick-off of the 2009 school year. The new Walker Jones will house 100,000 s.f. of classroom, a 20,000-s.f. community recreation center and a 5,000-s.f. library along with some new playgrounds and sports fields. The entire project is expected to meet the District's green building standards.

The complete project is said to be in the ballpark of $700 million in new development. After production of the new school and its amenities, the District will then focus on the new housing, of which a third will be market rate, a third will be affordable, and a third will serve as workforce, some of which will serve as replacement housing for current residents. Madigan referenced NPR's recent decision to build its new facilities across the street from the site as "a huge vote of confidence for Northwest One."


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ballpark Area Scores Another Office Building

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Donohoe Realty sat before the Zoning Commission yesterday evening and got the first set of approvals on their proposed office building at 1111 New Jersey Avenue, which will sit at the intersection of New Jersey Avenue and M Streets, SE, right on top of the Navy Yard Metro station. The building had gone through the Board of Zoning Adjustment application process back in May of last year for 'essentially' the same project, but since then Donohoe acquired the adjacent Navy Yard metro site, which fronts M Street. This new addition to the site now requires the Zoning Commission, rather than BZA, to weigh in. The Commission approved the plans 4 to 0.

WDG Architecture
designed the office building to sit 11 stories high, with a total of 200,000 s.f. of space within shouting distance of Nationals stadium, just south of St. Matthews Church and adjacent to the Opus office building currently under construction. The offices will sit atop three-underground levels of parking and a single story of ground floor retail. The rooftop will have dual uses: half will be a mechanical penthouse while the other half will be exposed with rooftop terraces.

WDG's Siti Abdul Rahman explained the design of the building during the Zoning Commission's last public hearing:"What we did is we created a very simple, plain, curtain wall glass, very pristine vaults with minimal architectural detail on this facade which is facing M Street...it wraps around towards New Jersey Avenue, and on New Jersey Avenue, what we did is we added a bit more texture onto the facade by creating a horizontal architectural metal banding glass. So it became a bit more texture[d]...To tie these two walls together, we added a metal vertical element and that will run down to the building and ties down to a metal and glass canopy. We also use[d] a more clear glass to benefit the retail spaces."

The next step is to get NCPC's nod - after which Zoning will give their approving order and construction permits can be sought.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Columbia Heights Opens Retail Center

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Last week marked a proud moment in District of Columbia history. The city's first Target store opened in the DC USA retail complex in Columbia Heights.

The 540,000-s.f., three story 'urban center', on roughly five acres of land between Irving Street and Park Road, is expected to garner more then $12 million in revenues for city coffers and will supply the District with more than 1000 jobs. Coming on the coattails of a 180,000-s.f. Target are Bed, Bath and Beyond, Washington Sports Club, Best Buy and a number of smaller retailers more often relegated to the suburbs, like Caribou Coffee, Mattress Discounters, Quizno's, Marshall's and Staples. New York based Grid Properties and Gotham Developers saw the project through to completion.

In a statement to the press last week, Mayor Fenty said: “[I]t is fitting to call this project both the catalyst and the capstone to an unprecedented economic resurgence in Columbia Heights – where nearly $1 billion worth of new housing, retail and office space has moved through the development pipeline since 2001.”

George Washington University professor, and economist, Tony M.J. Yezer opined. "If you think about what happens when you have group houses or [families with] double income-no kids, if they work downtown, they're not particularly fond of the suburbs. Its logical, that since there is a lot of employment of those types, they're going to want to live in Columbia Heights. If I could speculate, this [growth] might have happened earlier, except that perhaps, the government in DC was somewhat problematic in the 1980s.

"Does retail follow housing, or does housing follow retail, the answer is yes to both. This retail growth in Columbia Heights is caused by the population transformation and the population transformation will bring further retail. Things may be going fast in DC now, and the reason is that they didn't happen over time because they were delayed by what I consider to be problems with local government. You can have the economic rationale for converting a neighborhood to be fairly large, but you can also have regulatory impediments. The dam has burst. [Development] is going to happen very fast."

Bring on the cheap sneakers.

Friday, March 07, 2008

More Southeast Development

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Crawford Edgewood Managers Inc. (CEMI), together with New Market Investors LLC and the DC Housing Authority, is making headway on Highlands Addition, a revitalization effort that would turn more than 300,000 s.f. of vacant land in Washington Highlands into 138 mixed-income homes. The triumvirate has now selected Hamel Builders as the contractor after a lengthy bidding process, and now have to finalize the layout of alleys and thoroughfares that the project will create, which is still up for City Council approval. Once the chunk of land has been successfully gridded, all that's left is to buy those chichi golden shovels.

The plan, first filed before the Zoning Commission in November, 2006, seeks to build 138 units in the form of single-family detached, semi-detached and row house structures, and a number of stacked flats. In order to fit that many units on the site and to comply with density requirements, the partners needed the Zoning Commission to rezone the lots from R-5-A, to R-5-B. This also allowed the architects at Torti Gallas to design the buildings with a bit more freedom in building heights, which will range from 32 to 53 feet. Developers will also provide tenants with more than 300 parking spaces in garages, parking pads and on-street, but most of the units will have driveways.

The kicker for Zoning was the mixed- income pitch. With help from the District of Columbia Housing Authority, Crawford and New Market will offer "high-quality housing affordable to people in a wide range of income levels," providing more than 100 market-rate units for purchase, 30 units for rent to serve households at 60% AMI and a number of priority-rental units for households earning less than 30% AMI. Developers did not include homeownership opportunities at affordable rates - only the rental units will be subsidized.

"This development will change the neighborhood. It will bring homes to this area which brings taxpayers who will stabilize the neighborhood. Right now, it is crowded with low income housing, but this will be a great improvement for the neighborhood," said Cynthia Dickens for CEMI. "We should never warehouse people again. This project will bring socio-economic stabilization to a neighborhood that has long been neglected," said H.R. Crawford, codeveloper of the property.

In their pitch to Zoning, the two firms stated that, "Highlands Addition residential community will create a physically and socially vibrant neighborhood in place of this vacant site which is detrimental to the neighborhood." In addition to claiming social responsibility, the developers are attempting to create an "environmentally responsible development with sustainability features such as enhanced stormwater management, Energy Star appliances...and pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined streetscapes."

Developers anticipate a start date sometime this summer, and will phase the project beginning at Valley Drive and building outwards.

Art and Development in Southeast

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ARCH Development, together with InscapeStudio, is putting together its own revitalization package for southeast DC, offering subsidized artists' housing to stimulate both the arts and economic development in one of DC's needy neighborhoods. In the next few months, two of ARCH's projects will materialize side by side, at the 1600 block of V Street and the neighboring 2025 Fendall Street, SE. Both projects will be for sale and include elements of affordable housing.

ARCH, both a nonprofit development firm and nonprofit artist-training center, has already delivered on a residential project: a 4-unit, artist-residence at 1706 16th Street SE, half of which is used for complementary housing for artists doing community work in the area, and the other half as gratis housing for artists who are visiting the District. How can they offer free housing you ask? During Christmas of 2005, a fire tore through much of the building when it was briefly vacant, and thanks to a grant from the Commission of Arts and Humanities, the building was renovated in 2006 and continues to operate with a negligable overhead. Among the residents that Arch attracts to the building will be Delphine Perlstein a Parisian artist who will be exhibiting at ARCH's Honfleur Gallery and the French Embassy in April, and the crew from HGTV, who will come to Washington DC to revitalize three historic Anacostia developments (1, 2 and 3).

Duane Gautier, President of ARCH, gave input as to how his firm has a special advantage in neighborhood revitalization. "We believe that arts and culture can be one of the strategies that can revitalize the Anacostia neighborhood. What we're trying to do is develop a critical mass of arts and culture activities both commercial and residential, which should help to generate further development in the neighborhood. And that's what we want to see: more private sector involvement."

Now the firm is finishing up their plan for V Street, which requires the demolition of the existing building, and will replace it with a three story, 8-unit, artist-housing condo. Its one and two bedroom units will range from 550 -1200 s.f., and the first five lucky buyers will get free access to each of the five work spaces located on the first floor for two years, as an added incentive implemented by ARCH in the hopes of selling the building as quickly as possible. Prices range from approximately $165,000 to $210,000 - four of the units will be affordable for households earning approximately 60% AMI, while the other four units will be sold at market rate. ARCH is currently finishing up permit drawings for the condo and plan on breaking ground in October 2008, setting up for a grand opening in the fourth quarter of 2009.

The Fendall Street condo building, at the corner of Fendall and V, sits just in front of the V Street condos. Arch is currently performing internal demolitions on the apartment building that sits on the site, with the plans of stripping it bare, and remodeling the entire three story building to house 29 condominiums ranging from 600 - 11,000 s.f. Like V Street, 10 units of the building will be reserved for artists, and it will house a number of artist studios in the basement; about 80% of the total units will be affordable and only 20% will be sold at market rate. Gautier expects the Fendall Street project do be finished by February, 2009.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Industry Insight: MRP's Ryan Wade

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MRP Realty has developed over 17 million square feet of land in the District of Columbia and has roughly 5 million square feet of proposed development in progress. With such volumes of development in the pipeline comes a keen and watchful eye on the market. On behalf of MRP, Ryan Wade, one of the firm's founding principals, gave DC MUD an exclusive look at the inner workings of his firm. He shared a little bit of their insight, gave us their read on the pulse of the market and talked strategy on beating out the competition when the times are a-changin'.

DC MUD: So to start off, what made you enter the real estate development business?

Wade: Good question. My family was in real estate. My father worked for Northwestern Mutual, and then actually had his own firm, so I guess I grew up in the business. And then, coming out of school (Carolina), I always knew I wanted to be in real estate. My brother is in the business and works with us. It's just a great business in DC too - it's a good social business. You can make a lot of money. But it's more than that; I think it's a good culture.

DC MUD: What about leaving Trammell Crow, how did that happen?

Wade: Crow had some of the best culture in the business, or has some of the best culture and people in the business. I had a great four years at Crow, working closely with Bob Murphy, Fred Rothmeijer who's with us, and Chris Roth who is still there. We just had a great opportunity with good partners and pretty good capital relationships. It was just a fortunate time in the market where we could actually do it and pull it off.

DC MUD: Are there differences between the way things were run over at Trammell Crow and the way you do things over here?

Wade: I think it's very similar. We have the open floor plan, where there's a bullpen. It's very open, very collaborative. I think decisions are made very quickly. I think they were in that environment, and I think they are here. We’re doing pretty much the same thing. We've teamed up with capital partners, with Rockpoint Group out of Boston, Mass Mutual, Brookdale Group, who we've done business with before. So it's just a different jersey.

DC MUD: So on to Gateway, what attracted you to that site?

Wade: We've done a lot of assemblage. We've purchased a lot of land in DC starting in the CBD, a lot in the East End, in the Mount Vernon Triangle. We've always been very fortunate controlling land in DC. Especially if you have a long time horizon. So look at just the height limits in DC, it pushes development east. That's the next market there, in Southeast. We've missed Southeast. We don't have any down there.

DC MUD: So most developments in NoMa are office space, for the most part. Why did you add a residential component?

Wade: The primary reason is we looked at how we could get the most product going at the same time, to create a sense of place, bring retail, and get it out of the ground. So we're going to build the office building, hotel, and the residential building, which is 80 percent of the overall development, in phase one. It allowed us to move into more phasing than a small office building. You can't build a million feet, all office, on day one. But we can with multiple property types. It also brings a sense of place and creates the environment.

DC MUD: So the phasing is important to the 'sense of place?'

Wade: If you have a million square feet of office, you'd build phase one for the office, and then you'd wait for the lease on the office. Whereas we're essentially going to build phase one and phase two at the same time. The ground is worth more as office, but marginally more, and waiting the extra couple of years is worth it to get it going. And also, going back to the sense of place, and having a hotel on site and mix of uses, it's pretty important. We have about 10,000 s.f. of retail here. The problem with NoMa right now, is it's not finished and doesn't have the retail.

DC MUD: So how do you make decisions on what's worth developing?

Wade: I think we're pretty focused, we're pretty good at buying land and understanding where the value is. We're pretty good at entitlements. We've been in every jurisdiction so we know what we're getting done, and we have a pretty good sense of the market. It's experience with the markets, and knowing what we can and cannot get done within the jurisdictions. We also focus pretty heavily around transportation solutions. For example, in Loudon, we bought a site that has just come to fruition. In our Tyson's project deal, we actually donated land to the HOT lanes Consortium. So they're going to put HOT (Hight Occupancy Toll) lanes literally right into our project.

DC MUD: What do you look most for in architecture?

Wade: We spend a little bit more in the buildings than some of our competitors. We try to build the top end of the market. If you look at our Tysons building, it's going to be the best building in northern Virginia. It's going to be over the top, trophy quality, the best that Virginia has seen. And I think you'll see that in Washington Gateway. You'll see a high quality design. So we just need to make sure if we deliver in the wrong market, that we have a great product.

DC MUD: Can you talk a little bit about some of your upcoming projects, like the Tyson’s project (7940 Jones Branch Drive)?

Wade: It's going to be the best building in northern Virginia. It has a curtain wall design. We'll bring in a top quality chef which we should be able to announce in the next few months. We are going to have more amenities than anybody in the Tysons market, with fitness, concierge, conference facilities, cafes, full service restaurant, the whole nine yards - floor to ceiling glass. Because of its location and design, its presence should be pretty significant.

DC MUD: What about the Courthouse site (pictured below)?

Wade: Yeah 1310 North Courthouse, it's on Courthouse Road, good visibility from Route 50. We just bought it. We're completely renovating it, gutting the entire thing. We’ll have new lobbies, new bathrooms, new elevator cabs, new plaza. We completely changed (the first floor layout) to bring in a fitness operator. We're just going to completely change the inside of the building.

DC MUD: And Potomac Yard?

Wade: We're in the entitlement process now, working with Alexandria. We have 1.8 million s.f. total, 400 residential units, 800,000 s.f. of office, 600 hotel rooms, and about 200,000 s.f. of retail, with an emphasis on food services and entertainment amenities to really create a town center. We haven't programmed it, but we're going to have a major theme in the open space,like Reston has with the ice skating rink.

DC MUD: What do you think is the most important aspect in developing a successful project?

Wade: I think high quality, and probably the right real estate, the right area and location - and also team. One of the benefits is, back to being able to work with anybody, that we can pick the best people to work with on each individual project.

DC MUD: What affords you that luxury?


Wade: The fact that we don't have any in-house services. We're pure developers. We don't have management, we don't have leasing, we don't have sales, or finance.

DC MUD: Last one- which part of DC's development process would you like to see changed?

Wade: I just think it would be great to change the process for DC in literally any jurisdiction just to make it more efficient. It just takes a very long time to get anything approved. It's a very difficult predevelopment, entitlement process. But on the flip side, it's also the benefit, because it makes it difficult to do, so you don't have as much supply once you actually get through the process. Alexandria's probably the hardest. DC is, we've always found it to be fair. We've gotten through with what we needed to get through.

Todd Place Condos

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Sponsored Announcement

Todd Place is the total renovation of 3 separate apartment buildings, 302-310 Todd Place, into 12 condos, each with two bedrooms, deep walk in closets in each bedroom, vaulted ceilings, and beautifully finished interiors. Located within walking distance of the Rhode Island Ave Metro station and NoMa Metro stations, in DC's booming NoMa area, the fastest growing commercial real estate sector in the District. Off-street parking available for each unit. Interior finishes include solid bamboo floors, generously sized granite counters in the kitchen and bath, skylights on the upper floors, ceiling fans, walk-in closets in both bedrooms, and private security systems. Developed by Lindsay Development & Hillsborough Investments. Newly reduced prices range from $249,500 to $265,500.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

NPR Announces New Home in Noma

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Today, Mayor Adrian Fenty announced the newest resident of NoMa, NPR, which is now making preparations to dispose of its old site. The District's favorite nonprofit will add to the list of NoMa's growing family, XM Satellite Radio, CNN, the Department of Education and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. According to the NoMa Business Improvement District (BID), an organization created by the City Council to support development in NoMa, private developers have invested over $1 billion and broke ground on over three million s.f. of space within the area north of Massachusetts Avenue since the initiative began.

J Street Development
, which had other plans for the site at 1111 North Capitol Street, NE, before deciding to sell to NPR, will develop the 10 story, 400,000-s.f. office building and the massive, 60,000-s.f. newsroom bullpen inside. The building will take the place of the old Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Companies warehouse, which is currently leased by the Smithsonian. Shalom Baranes Associates will design NPR's new global headquarters with space for more than 20,000 s.f. of retail while maintaining a number of facades from CPT's historic building. To begin the move, NPR will begin marketing their old digs at 635 Massachusetts Avenue for sale within the next two weeks. The organization will then leaseback the property until their move-in date, expected by the end of 2011.

"There are businesses within this city's boundaries that are important to the fabric of our communities. NPR is one of those businesses. We started working months ago to find NPR a new headquarters...This project will be an impetus for many things to come over the years," announced Fenty proudly.

"The new headquarters will be the physical manifestation of our broader thinking about NPR for the future...This translates to a setting that offers our staff the most creative, collaborative and interactive atmosphere to do their best work," boasted Ken Stern, CEO of NPR. With this openness in mind, Stern then discussed the vast amounts of public space that the development will include in the new campus, to be used for live broadcasts, lectures and for the community at-large.

Studley represented NPR in the deal, searching for a place that was close to the metro to serve commuting NPR employees, while at the same time attempting to remain within the District. According to Vernon Knarr of Studley, "For NPR to move outside of DC would have been a big change."

As part of the development, the city will help fund the project with a dual phase, 20-year tax abatement which translates to roughly $40 million dollars, a factor that Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Neil Albert said was "critical to the economics of this deal." Alongside those tax abatements will come a slew of streetscape improvements to make the project "feasible and aesthetically pleasing," added Fenty.

NPR was founded in 1970, and opened up shop on M Street, only to move to Penn quarter more than a decade later, in what many called a pioneering move. Stern likened their current move to that same pioneering mentality from the '80s.

 

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