Thursday, July 31, 2008

Washington Hilton Landmarked

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Some say the aerial view of the Washington Hilton in Dupont looks like a distant seagull, some say the hotel looks like a sedentary spaceship. The Historic Preservation Review Board says it looks like a historic landmark. In a 5-2 vote at their July 24th meeting, the board designated the Washington Hilton Hotel at 1919 Connecticut Avenue, NW a historic landmark based on "Criteria D and F", architectural significance and the work of a master.

In his staff report prior to the meeting, Tim Dennee, Architectural Historian for HPRB, recommended that the Board designate the Hilton, built from 1962-1965, a historical landmark and wrote, "Its sinuous massing was a radical departure from traditional local architecture as was its use of column and slab construction throughout, and uniform, pre-cast concrete, windowed wall panels."

In addition to his praise for Architect William B. Tabler, who designed the 1,250-room full-service hotel and whom Dennee described as "no household name, but nonetheless an extraordinarily prolific and acknowledged master of hotel design," Dennee pointed out the hotel's significance as the site of the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan and as a venue for events attended by subsequent presidents.

But not everyone was as convinced that the hotel was worthy of landmark status, which not only puts it on the National Register of Historic Places, but also makes the building subject to preservation law, which "requires review of proposals for new construction and additions, demolition, and exterior alterations." Among the reasons the two dissenting members - and several local residents - opposed the landmark were doubts about the distinctiveness of the building, the significance of the architect, and the owner's motivation in landmarking it.

There has been some speculation that the applicant and owner, C.J.U.F. II Destination Hotel LLC, a partnership of Los Angeles-based Lowe Enterprises and Beverly Hills-based Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds, LLC, created by basketball star Magic Johnson, applied for the landmark to be eligible to apply for a parking and loading waiver in the event of future on-site construction or renovations. The HPRB can't confirm this, as the owner did not discuss it with them, nor did they officially submit future construction plans. The developer bought the hotel in May of last year and is currently working with the HPRB to come up with a residential concept that is applicable to the now landmarked hotel.

Dennee, on the other hand, said it seemed like the owner applied for the land mark to beat other applicants to the punch, "In his testimony before the HPRB, the owners’ rep seemed to suggest that the motivation was largely the fact that they recognized it as an important building and thought that someone else might nominate it as a landmark. The owners apparently wished to manage any risk and the timing by forwarding the nomination themselves," he said.

"We have the zoning and development right to build, but now that we had the hotel landmarked, we have to have any building concepts approved. We want to work with the community and the HPRB to come up with a concept that works with the landmarked building. We felt that if we landmarked the hotel ourself, we were opening doors to the community to have a good rapport. We want to set a precedent that developers should be landmarking their own buildings rather than fighting it," said Sarah Hubbard, Development Manager at Lowe Enterprises.

"We want to be proud of the fact that it's recognized as a historic site. There were things left out of its original design and now we want to bring the historic site into the 21st century, so any addition would not only be a modern addition, but it would fix some urban design problems like open space and pedestrian access," said Hubbard.

According to William B. Tabler Architects' website, the sprawling form, a result of the District's height restriction, "gave every guest-room a view with light, space and air. The curve allowed for an efficient double loaded corridor while breaking the endless vista that usually occurs in such long buildings." The landmarking process is intended to protect the physical fabric and appearance of historic structures. We think Jody Foster will be impressed.

West End Retail and Architecture Get Boost

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The Board of Zoning Adjustment approved Tuesday NH Partners Holdings, LLC's plans to redevelop DCD America's eight-story office building at 1200 New Hampshire Avenue, NW into an improved office building with more accessible ground floor retail, a handicapped-accessible entrance, and a new lobby. Designed by Bonstra Haresign Architects, the addition will feature modern glass, stone, and metal detailing and "establish an appropriate modern/current architectural language" rather than the existing 1970's-style brick and glass ribbon facade. The renovated office building will also include a single story glass-faced building addition, green roof, and new space for a "high-end white table restaurant or retailer".

Bounded by New Hampshire Avenue, 21st, M, N and 22nd Streets, NW, the 48,589 s.f. site is located between the central business district and the West End neighborhood and is home to Grillfish and Meiwah restaurants, a dry cleaners and a wine shop. The current building was developed in 1978 and includes an approximately six-foot arcade that the developer hopes to enclose, making ground floor retail more accessible to pedestrians and to increasing the floor area by 4,494 s.f.

According to the BZA report, "The location, size, and depth of the open plaza combined with the building design have created retail spaces that have little to no relationship with the adjacent street and are not easily visible, accessible, or marketable," thus, over 6,000 s.f. of the existing ground floor retail space is being used as back office space. The developer's plan would reduce public space from 4,806 s.f. to 313 s.f., but would create larger sidewalks and move retailers closer to the street.

According to David Haresign, Project Architect, the project has faced little opposition from neighbors or the government. The project team, "received support for the design and variance from the full spectrum of stakeholders - tenants, residential, neighbors, and officials from the DC office of Planning, and a neutral vote from the Advisory Neighborhood Commission," Haresign said.

Construction is anticipated to start in mid 2009. The renovated building will still include 165 spaces of below-grade parking. Houston-based PM Realty Group is managing the property. The building is surrounded by renovation, including the just-finishing 22 West, Tiverton condo conversion, and renovation of the Marriott next door.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Avera Station Condos Now Apartments

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The Avera Station condominiums in Falls Church has joined the long and growing list of condos that have been converted to for-lease apartments, and has been rechristened as Carmel Vienna Metro. Built by Atlanta-based Beazer Homes, the 245-unit Avera Station was fully completed in mid June, and sold to Denver-based Carmel Partners on July 1. The project had been selling as condominiums since early 2006, and had been advertised as "No. Virginia's Fastest Selling Condos." Carmel, which purchased the project free of the previous condominium contracts, would not disclose the sale price. According to Carmel, none of the pre-construction contracts went to settlement.

The project is located outside the beltway, nearly adjacent to the Vienna Metro station. Carmel, which owns and manages 45 apartment buildings nationwide, says it has already leased 50 of the units over the past month, with rents ranging from $1705 to $2420. According to on-site Manager James Mann, Carmel Vienna Metro is maintaining the "luxury homes" branding, offering "concierge services" and a flat-screen television to all tenants.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Peck Site Swap Yields Affordable Homes

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A recent approval by Arlington County has paved the way for a new affordable housing project in the center of Ballston. The JBG Companies have long had plans for 800,000 s.f. of mixed-use development on the former Bob Peck Dealership and Showroom site in Ballston, but the project lacked an affordable housing component. Arlington-based AHC Inc., which provides affordable housing locally, wanted a higher density development at its neighboring Jordan Manor project, an affordable housing site. But the thought of two high-density developments in close proximity troubled some in the planning process. Arlington, seeing an opportunity for a deal that would please both parties and yield affordable housing for the county, facilitated a land swap between the two developers.

The result was a plan for 90 affordable rental units, designed by Bonstra Haresign Architects and developed by AHC, on a portion of the JBG Companies' land, keeping the density all on one site. JBG will in turn develop 28 townhouses on AHC's 1.1-acre Jordan Manor Site, keeping it lower density. The board approved the affordable housing plans last Saturday.

AHC Project Manager Curtis Adams said his company wanted to build a higher density project on their adjacent site and submitted plans to Arlington around the same time as JBG. "We had been interested in developing our property into higher density and JBG was doing their big development, and we knew that it would hurt our chances of getting the density we wanted. The county pushed for a land swap - they are building townhouses on AHC property and we will take room on their site to the higher density that we wanted."

Adams said his company will demolish the existing 24-unit Jordan Manor that they own and operate to prepare for the approved land swap that will take place in December of this year. The affordable housing component will deliver two buildings, the Wilson and the Wakefield, and is a benefit to the master developer who can now boast the affordable units as a community benefit and not just a large mixed-use development. As project architect David Haresign said, "It is an important component of the project because JBG is now able to show a project with affordable housing."

When the larger project was initially approved in February, County Board Chairman Walter Tejada said, "The project has it all...it adds to our stock of affordable housing in the Metro Corridor."

The entire development on the "Peck site" will deliver two office buildings with over 400,000 s.f. of office space and 36,000 s.f. of ground floor retail space as well as the 28 townhomes on the demolished Jordan Manor site. The commercial space, JBG's portion, was designed by Cooper Carry.

Other community benefits include LEED certification for both office buildings, new traffic signals, after-hours public parking, and pathways connecting the two buidlings. Projected rents on the affordable units range from $1,050 for a one-bedroom unit to around $1,500 for a three-bedroom unit. The majority of the affordable units will have two or three bedrooms.

Bowman Consulting is the civil engineer and landscape architect for the entire complex.

Arlington Virginia real estate development news


Monday, July 28, 2008

DC's Development Pipeline

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Ever since the Fenty administration took over development of the District's publicly-owned property, merging agencies and placing them under his direct supervision, it seems development of blighted blocks has been given a new urgency, even compared to that of the Williams administration - itself a great improvement over its predecessor. But despite weekly announcements from the Mayor and the Office of Planning and Economic Development, many of the projects still have to proceed through the District's infamously thick bureaucracy. But if China can cleanse its murky atmosphere in a few short months, there is cause for optimism that change is in the air here in Washington. DCMud has prepared a rundown of the largest projects now underway, properties in need of developers, and solicitations to look for in the future.

The projects listed below are still being refined. The numbers and square footage assigned to each are conceptual and are subject to change.

Projects With Developers

Southwest Waterfront by Hoffman Streuver will offer 539 market-rate units and 231 affordable units. The $1.5 billion project will also include 350 hotel rooms, 700,000 s.f. of office space and 280,000 s.f. of retail space. On July 15th, the DC Council approved a $198 million TIF/PILOT package to finance park and infrastructure improvements. Groundbreaking is not expected any time soon, with construction lasting at least 6 years.

Waterfront, the erroneously named project at 401 M Street, SW, will deliver 800 market-rate and 200 affordable residential units as well as 1.3 million s.f. of office space and 110,00 s.f. of retail space. Mayor Fenty joined SW Waterfront Associates (Forest City Wasington, Charles E. Smith Vornado) in November to demolish the former Waterside Mall. The $800 million project will sit atop the Waterfront -SEU Metro station.

Clark Realty was selected in February as Master Developer for Poplar Point on the east side of the Anacostia. The number of residential and hotel units they will deliver has not yet been determined, however 30% of all residential units will be affordable. The District and the National Park Services held a public scoping meeting last month for the Environmental Impact Statement of the $2.5 billion project.

Center Leg Freeway on Massachusetts Ave, NW between 2nd and 3rd Streets is being developed by Louis Dreyfus Properties into 100 market- rate and 50 affordable residential units. The $1.1. billion project will cap the exposed section of I-395, and include 2,100,000 s.f. office space and 67,000 s.f. retail space.

The McMillan Sand Filtration Site on North Capital Street and Michigan Avenue will be developed into 820 market-rate units, 351 affordable units, and a 100-room hotel by EYA. The $1 billion project will also deliver 700,000 s.f. of office space and $110,000 s.f. of retail space. The project has long been worked over, but don't make plans for moving in any time soon.

In May the District reached a deal with Hines Archstone to develop a 400-room "high-end" hotel and 100,000 s.f. of additional retail space on "Parcel B", a 53,000 s.f. plot of land that is part of the larger CityCenter DC, the development taking up residence on the old convention center site. The entire $850 million project downtown will deliver 539 market-rate units, 135 affordable units, 476,000 s.f. of office space, and 266,000 s.f. of retail space.

On June 26th, Marriot International, Cooper Carry Architects and EHT Traceries presented plans for the Convention Center Headquarters Hotel to the Historic Preservation Review Board. Located on the Corner of 9th Street and Massachusetts Avenue, NW, the $550 million project will deliver 1125 hotel rooms and 25,00 s.f. of retail space. Having been scaled back from its original 1400 bed facility, the project is well past its early schedule, of construction in 2007.

O Street Market at 7th Street and Georgia Avenue will be transformed into a mixed-use development that will include 550 market-rate and 80 affordable residential units by Roadside Development. The $329 million development will replace a current Giant supermarket with a new 71,000 s.f. store and include a 200 unit hotel and 87,000 s.f. of retail space. The District reached an agreement with the developer late last month to kickstart financing. Of the dozens of projects promising to revitalize the Shaw neighborhood, this may be the first large project to actually get underway.

Skyland Shopping Center on Good Hope Road at Naylor and Alabama Avenue, SE will be developed by Rappaport Companies and William C. Smith Companies into a $261 million development with 155 market-rate units and 66 affordable units as well as 230,000 s.f. of retail space. When? Even an estimate will be fine.

City Vista, which began sales in late 2005, will bring 441 condos with 138 affordable residential units to, as well as a separate apartment building, to 5th and K Streets, NW. The project will also include 130,000 s.f. of retail space and will cost $191 million. The first condominium building completed last October, the remaining condominium and the apartment building are nearly ready for occupancy.

Early this year, Fenty signed a Land Disposition Agreement with Broadcast Center One Partners LLC, (Ellis Development and Four Points, LLC) that will bring African-American-owned Radio One to the district. The $144 million Broadcast Center One at 7th and S Streets, NW will be a mixed-use project with 135 market-rate and 45 affordable residential units as well as 96,000 s.f. of office space and 22,000 s.f. of retail space. According to Fenty's office, "the deal also sets in motion the $22 million redevelopment of the Howard Theater, a long-shuttered landmark that was the hub of black Broadway." If it gets built; the timeline remains uncertain.

Mt. Carmel (Parcel 51B) on 3rd Street, NW between K and H Streets is being developed by MQW LLC (Quadrangle and the Wilkes Companies) into $130 million mixed-use project with 267 market-rate units, 67 affordable units and 90,000 s.f. office space.

Forest City Washington is responsible for the $120 million O Street SE Redevelopment by the SE Federal Center. It will deliver 354 market-rate units, 89 affordable units and 47,000 s.f. of retail space.

The Village at Dakota Crossing in Fort Lincoln by Ft. Lincoln New Town Corporation will include 327 market-rate and 30 affordable units. It will cost $110 million.

Mid City Urban and A&R Development will bring 216 market-rate and 54 affordable residential units as well as 70,000 s.f. of retail space to the area around the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station with their $105 million Rhode Island Station project. First attempted as a condo project, developers have bowed to the market and substituted apartment buildings - at least in theory, as the project has yet to break ground.

The $100 million Shops at Dakota Crossing on New York and South Dakota Avenue, NE will be developed by Ft. Lincoln New Town Corporation into 29,000 s.f. of office space and 461,000 s.f. of retail space.

Lowe Enterprises and Jack Sophie Development have long had intentions to develop Riggs Road and South Dakota Avenue, NE (Triangle Parcel) into 208 market-rate units, 52 affordable units and 23,223 s.f. of retail to the tune of $75 million. The fate of the project is uncertain, as higher construction costs, shrinking condo prices, and more conservative lending practices - especially in low-income neighborhoods, make such projects harder to justify.

Park Place on Georgia Avenue in Petworth will be developed by Donatelli Development into 161 market-rate units, 32 affordable units and 16,000 s.f of retail space and will cost $60 million. Purchased by Donatelli, along with partners Gragg & Associates, Canyon Capital Realty Advisors and Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, will be one of the few developers delivering new condos in 2009.

In February, the District made a Term Sheet with Parcel 42 Partners to develop 95 affordable housing units and 8,000 s.f. of retail space on Parcel 42, in Shaw at 7th and Rhode Island Avenue, NW for $28 million.

In December 2007, the District selected William C. Smtih Companies and the Jair Lynch Companies to develop the $700 million Northwest One New Community that will deliver 1,600 units of housing on former NCRC parcels as well as adjacent DC-controlled and private properties in Ward 6. Located between North Capitol Street, New York Avenue, New Jersey Avenue, and K Street, the site is in an area that has "long been plagued by high crime and poverty", but is surrounded by the up-and-coming NoMa and Mt.Vernon Triangle neighborhoods. The development team, which also includes Banneker Ventures and CPDC (affordable housing provider), will create apartments, townhouses, and condos for all income levels as well as over 40,000 s.f. of retail and 220,000 s.f. of office space. The development will also offer a 21,000 s.f. clinic.

And further down the road...

The District issued a solicitation in early June for Parcel 69 at 4th, 6th, and E Streets, SW. The $130 million development will be an office and hotel project along the Southwest freeway. Proposals are due by September 15th.

In May, Fenty issued an RFEI for the Hill East Waterfront on Capitol Hill East. The District seeks a developer to create 2,100 market-rate and 900 affordable units with 2,000,000 s.f office space and 67,000 s.f. of retail space. The District anticipates a price tag of $1.1 billion for the development of the 50 acres surrounding the former DC General Hospital. Proposals are due by October 31st.

Proposals were due June 3rd for Minnesota and Benning Road, NE Phase II. The $107 million development will include 60 market rate, 392 affordable units and 40,000 s.f. of retail. No developer has been selected.

It is high time the District announced developer for Fifth and I Street, NW. After proposals were submitted in March, the District widdled the teams down to the final four including BG, Buccini/Pollin, Potomac Investment Properties, and a group comprised of Holland Development, Donohoe Development, Spectrum Management, and Harris Development. The winning team, whenever they are announced, will create somewhere around 170 market-rate units, 30 affordable units, 100 hotel rooms and 50,000 s.f. of retail space.

Upcoming Solicitations

The District would like to see 1,469 market-rate and 440 affordable units in Lincoln Heights in Ward 7 at an estimated cost of $576 million.

Barry Farm/Park Chester/Wade Road in Ward 8 will likely include 110 market and 330 affordable housing units and will cost around $550 million. The project is an effort to revitalize low-income properties in the historic Anacostia area.

The issuance of the Park Morton solicitation at Park Road and Georgia Avenue, NW is "imminent" according to the Mayor's office and will cost $136 million with 499 market-rate and 150 affordable units. Axis

Thursday, July 24, 2008

PentaGONE City

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Sorry to dash the hopes of developers with their eyes on Pentagon City, but the entire area's "last developable parcel of land" has now been spoken for. The Arlington Board approved Monday night a Phased Development Site Plan for phase one of Pentagon Centre, Kimco Realty Corporation's mixed-use development that will deliver a twenty and eight story office building and a parking structure.

According to the county, "The approved plan begins to implement the final piece of the development plan puzzle for the entire Pentagon City area."

Designed by international firm, Callison Architects, with Arlington-based MTFA Architecture, Pentagon Centre will replace a 337,000 s.f. warehouse facility that was built in the 1950's. Both office buildings are designed to achieve LEED Silver certification. The project will sit on 16.8 acres above the Pentagon City Metro Station and offer 33,599 s.f office and 13,095 s.f. of ground floor retail space in the larger office building and 152,112 s.f. office and 14,600 s.f. of ground floor retail in the second.

Kimco currently owns the property at South Hayes Street and 12th Street South on which Pentagon Center will be developed as existing retail leases expire. Borders Books, Costco, Best Buy, Marshalls, and Linens N Things are currently renting the existing retail space. Phase Two will follow the expiration of the Big Box Storage lease; Phase Three will be built upon the expiration of Costco's lease.

The original Pentagon City Phased Development Site Plan approved in 1976 was intended to make Pentagon City an "urban center" that hosted a mix of uses. "With this phased development site plan, we at last have the full picture of the future of Pentagon City," said J. Walter Tejada, County Board Chairman.

In addition to filling out P City's development portfolio, Pentagon Centre will make a $500,000 contribution for community improvements that may include a water park at Virginia Highland Park, improvements for the Pentagon City Metro Plaza, and/or subsidies to reduce the rent for an Urgent Care Facility. It will also make contributions of $423,500 to "Utility Undergrounding," $75,00 to Public Art, and an undisclosed amount to Affordable Housing. Sounds like Arlington squeezed everything they could out of the last new developer they will see for a while.

The developer is a New Hyde Park, NY - based company that has the largest portfolio of shopping centers in the US.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Butterfield House Architectural Tour

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SPONSOR

The Butterfield House will be offering a guided tour, led by the project architect, Sassan Gharai, principle of SGA Architects of Bethesda. The tour will take place at 3 pm on Saturday, July 26th, on location at 1020 Pennsylvania Ave., SE. The Butterfield House, a 28-unit residential building near Capitol Hill's Eastern Market, recently completed construction, and was featured last month by the prestigious National Building Museum for its design, which successfully blends modern amenities and technology within the framework of Capitol Hill's historic fabric, adding to the Hill an elegantly detailed structure, even by the rigorous standards of the surrounding architecture.
SGA Architects has designed and developed a number of large commercial, residential, and retail buildings throughout the greater DC area. Development of the Butterfield House, named after celebrated architect William Butterfield, involved removal and remediation of the structures and soil of the service station that had occupied the site for many years. Mr. Gharai will be discussing the environmental improvement of the site as the architecture and design of the building.
Marketing and sales by DCRealestate.com

Founder's Square Approved

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The Arlington County Board approved late Saturday The Shooshan Company's plan to turn an Arlington bus garage, Shell gas station, recycling drop-off center, and Super Pollo restaurant into a five-building, mixed-use real estate project that will expand Mosaic Park and bring retail, residential, and office space to the Ballston Metro area. A far more sightly use of the land, the county anticipates that the project will bring increased green space and revenue to the county as the current bus garage paid no property taxes.

The 5.35 acres, bounded by North Randolph Street, Wilson Boulevard, and North Quincy Street, will host 26,000 s.f. of ground-floor retail, two residential towers with 362 units, and a single story, relocated Super Pollo. The residential buildings will climb to twelve and seventeen stories, one office building will rise fifteen stories, and the final office building - a secure building built to house defense-related facilities as part of the 2005 BRAC - will rise to thirteen stories with an 82-foot setback.

Designed by global design firm, RTKL Associates, Inc., the project is planned to achieve LEED certification and position the highest buildings on the north and west sides of the site - farther from the Ashton Heights neighborhood and closer to the Ballston Metro Station.

As part of the usual county-developer negotiation process, Arlington will expand the now 1.08 acre park onto the development site, a concession that will give the developer bonus density. According to the board, the ability to retain federal defense contractors and the ability to expand open, public space was well worth the trade.

Other community benefits include sidewalk improvements, nineteen units of affordable housing, and pedestrian access through the site. Groundbreaking is anticipated for late 2009.

The architects are also responsible for the FDA Headquarters in White Oak Maryland, Downtown Silver Spring and Reston Town Center. The Arlington-based developer is responsible for several buildings in the Ballston area including One and Two Liberty Center.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Columbia Pike is for Squares

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Because no revitalization effort is complete without open green space, the Arlington County Board approved the master plan for Penrose Square, a 33,000 s.f. square planned for Columbia Pike's Town Center last night. Designed by a twelve-member citizen Working Group and landscape architectural firm Oculus, Penrose Square is the first and largest of three squares planned for the Town Center, and will include a tree-covered terrace with movable seats and tables, public art, a centrally located paved plaza, and an interactive water fountain.

The square will be developed in two phases. Phase One, a $2.4 million endeavor, will begin construction in mid-2010 and will deliver 17,760 s.f. Phase Two will be coordinated with the redevelopment of the Fillmore Shopping Center site and will cost an additional $2 million. There is no set completion date.

The parcel was dedicated to the county by Carbon Thompson Development, which is planning a mixed-use Penrose Square development that will include a 57,000 Giant supermarket with 325 residential units above it that will be completed in 2011. The project, which was approved in 2006, will also deliver structured parking (325 retail and 400 residential spaces) and 40,000 s.f. of retail space.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Logan Station Completes Sales

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Bogdan Builders' Logan Station officially finished sales with its final settlement last Friday. The 63 condominiums at 1210 R Street, NW, in the Shaw neighborhood, began sales in March, 2006, but most sales occurred after construction completed in August of last year. The new four-story building with a green roof replaced a vacant lot at R Street and Vermont Avenue, and features townhouse style units with private entrances on the first floor, with flats on the upper units.

The project was Bogdan's largest to date. The Bethesda-based developer previously completed the Ivy at Harvard (14 units) and Villaggio (14 units), and is currently putting the final touches on Belmont Vista, a 28-unit building in Columbia Heights. Designed by Eric Colbert and built Bogdan's own construction team, Logan Station was priced originally from mid $300k's, with two-bedroom condos from the high $500k's, and penthouse units in the $700's. Logan Station was financed by Sandy Spring Bank.

Friday, July 18, 2008

From AWC to NCRC to DMPED, Fenty Lauds Change

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Mayor Adrian Fenty, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Neil Albert, and Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) held a public ceremony this morning to celebrate the one year anniversary of the District's decision to disband and take control over the portfolios of the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation (AWC) and National Capital Revitalization Corporation (NCRC). In a tribute to their combined foresight, the Mayor lauded the District's "significant progress" on over two dozen key from the portfolios since the merge, and offered up morsels of imminent announcements.

"There were a lot of properties in these two quasi-public entities and it was the decision of the Council of the District of Columbia to make sure that those properties moved a lot faster, that they got developed quicker, and most importantly, that people saw results and I can say that a year later there has been a flurry of consistent activity," Fenty said.

With $60 billion in the citywide pipeline since 2001 and $13 billion in current economic development projects, the Office of the Deputy Mayor's portfolio now includes over 12,000 residential units - including 4,500 "affordable" units - 1,800 hotel rooms, 2 million s.f. of retail space, and 8 million s.f. of office space.

Looking back on their recent successes, the Mayor noted that on May 14th, the District issued a RFEI for a master developer for Hill East Waterfront, 50 acres around the former DC General Hospital site.

On June 4th, the District issued a solicitation for a development partner for Parcel 69, a potential $130 million office/hotel project by the Southwest Freeway.

Master land planning began at Boathouse Row in SE on July 11th.

On Tuesday, the Council approved a $198 million TIF/PILOT package to fund park and infrastructure improvements for the $1.5 billion Southwest Waterfront redevelopment.

Yesterday the District selected Argos Group to develop two properties on Capitol Hill, including the Old Engine House 10 into eight condominiums.

And looking forward, Albert told DCMud the Strand Theatre project (5131 Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue, NE), developed by Washington Metropolitan Community Development Corporation and Banneker Ventures, will break ground in the next two weeks.

He added that his office will also announce a developer for 6425 14th Street, NW in the coming weeks, a 12,100-s.f. parcel of land in Brightwood.

Sean Madigan, Director of Communications in the Office of the Deputy Mayor, predicts an announcement for 5th and I, as well as Minnesota-Benning Road, NE, in the next few weeks, and that the Park Morton development group will be announced "imminently."

Evans, who had a hand in the creation of both the NCRC and the AWC, said the decision to create the organizations was correct at the time, as was the decision to consolidate them. "I was there for the creation of NCRC and AWC and at the time when we were looking at putting those semi-private entities in place, the District government wasn't functioning, and so the idea of having an NCRC was something like the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation model to get economic development projects done in the city," Evans said.

"Then we learned that the semi-private entities were not doing what they were supposed to and we rolled them back into the government and put them under the Deputy Mayor and as we said today, it seems the decision was absolutely the correct one, because now we have a unified government and we can now focus on these projects and get them done. What we did in the past made sense and what we did last year made sense and we are now celebrating the results of those actions," Evans concluded, as the development troika lauded each other's vision and accomplishments.

Albert added that a major goal of the consolidation was to establish one point of accountability for economic development in DC, but also to save taxpayers money. "One of the reasons the Council and Mayor worked so hard to consolidate the agencies, was to make sure that there was a single point of accountability on all economic development projects here in the District. Citizens had been asking for it, and they got it with this merger. Also, this merger resulted in significant savings for the taxpayers - over $5 million in savings because of the consolidating," Albert said.

Like a gloating parent, Fenty added, "I just love efficient government, we have too much waste - a lot of these quasi-public commissions and entities and boards, they just spend money wastefully and we're gonna put a stop to that too." Ad: Metropole condos in Washington DC.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

District Picks Developer for Old Engine House 10

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The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development announced yesterday that it selected the Argos Group to redevelop two Capitol Hill buildings including Old Engine House 10 into two buildings with four condo units each, half of which will be affordable.

Located in the northeast corner of Capitol Hill at 525 Ninth Street, NE and 1341 Maryland Avenue, NE, both buildings are just over 5,000 s.f., assessed at almost $1 million, and have stood vacant for years. The District issued a solicitation for developers in January, three teams responded.

Offers were evaluated based on experience, project feasibility, unit affordability, offer price, and Certified Business Enterprise participation. The developer, who has far exceeded the 30 percent affordable housing requirement, must also use green building design standards.

The Maryland Avenue building is 114 years old and was designated a historic landmark in January of this year. The Ninth Street property, built in 1932, was formerly a police station. Both were controlled by the former National Capital Revitalization Corporation until the agency was dissolved and it's properties transferred to the Deputy Mayor's Office.


Deputy Mayor Neil Albert said it is time for the buildings to become more aesthetically pleasing and put to better use. "These are great historic structures, but they've been neighborhood eye sores for far too long. Argos is a highly capable local developer that will put these properties back to productive use and make lasting improvements to these neighborhoods."

Argos' $3 million redevelopment project, within walking distance of the H Street corridor, will be designed by Architrave with construction by Hamel Builders.

Graham Calls for Investigation of ADUs

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Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward One) asked yesterday for an investigation of illegal renting of affordable housing in at least two condominiums in Ward One. Graham believes both the Rhapsody Condominium at 2120 Vermont Avenue, NW and the Tivoli Townhomes Condominium at 1340 Monroe Street, NW are illegally renting lower priced units.

"I call on the Department of Housing and Community Development to investigate. I am concerned that evidence given to me suggest fraud. This is a very serious charge and requires a thorough investigation by the Mayor and the Council," Graham said.

Wilson Reynolds, Director of Constituent Services for Graham said this exploitation of affordable housing is an abuse of pre-delivery agreements between the District and developers. "The standardization and enforcement for affordable housing has not been what it needs to be. We have constituents that are telling us that they are finding affordable units being advertised at market rate. We have people taking advantage of something for which an awful lot of work was done and concessions were made. This has deep implications because the city has given things in return to allow developers to reach extra floor area ratios or other variances in exchange for creating units that were supposed to be affordable," Reynolds added.

Reynolds said the purpose of the investigation is to find out who is at fault; Graham is not specifically pointing fingers at the developers or the unit owners. Reynolds said it will be a multi-step process and will include the Department of Housing and Community Development, that has a history of dealing with affordable housing. Other involved agencies will likely include the DC Office of the Deputy Mayor, the Office of Zoning, and Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

Under DC law, those who buy affordable units cannot rent it for five years. The District government offers developers additional square footage and other such incentives in return for affordable units.

"The idea is they're supposed to live in it for five years. There are variations, you may be able to rent it or sell it, you have the right of ownership, but because of the ADU covenant, there may be qualifiers in it. One example is that after five years, you can rent it but to someone who doesn't exceed the income level that you had when you purchased it," Reynolds said.

"Affordable housing is precious in our city, and we must do all we can to preserve it," Graham said.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Smithsonian Seeking Museum Architect

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Five years after Congress established it, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the newest and 19th Smithsonian Institution Museum, is looking for an architect. The RFQ, issued last Wednesday, calls for a team that has experience working with government agencies and private industries, can design the building within a thirty-six month calendar, and who will "infuse" their vision with "an appreciation of African American History and Culture".

"We also look forward to working with a firm whose member share our respect for the National Mall and are excited about creating a signature, green building that will be worthy of its site, the Smithsonian and the richness of African American culture," said founding director of the museum, Lonnie Bunch.

Submissions are due by September 19, 2008 with selection scheduled for spring 2009. The Smithsonian has already reached out to members of the National Organization of Minority Architects, the American Institute of Architects, and other organizations to design the "symbolic" five-acre site between the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The RFQ says, "Minority, small business, small disadvantaged business, women-owned small business....and Service Disabled Veteran owned firms are strongly encouraged to apply."

The development timetable for the 350,000 s.f. museum calls for groundbreaking in 2012 with completion in 2015.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

District Approves SW Waterfront Bonds

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The District Council today approved a financing project for the 23-acre Southwest Waterfront, providing $198 million in bonds for the waterfront project, a bill that Mayor Fenty is expected to sign. Under terms of the bill passed unanimously by the the DC Council, the District will issue revenue bonds supported by tax increment financing (TIF), payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT), and special assessments, for improvements that will begin after developers PN Hoffman and Struever Brothers, Eccles & Rouse finish the private portions of the redevelopment.

The Southwest Waterfront Bond Financing Act of 2008 authorizes the Mayor to issue revenue bonds to fund site improvements, with $148m allocated specifically for "development costs" of the project. The remaining $50m is allocated to pay for financing costs incurred by the District. Any funds received in excess of $198 million will be transferred to the District's General Fund. According to the development team, the waterfront project is projected to generate more than $40m in annual tax revenues, with $13.3m contributed to the general fund annually after payment of the debt service.

The land, when fully developed in 2017, is expected to support 2.4 million square feet of development, including 770 residential units, 700,000 s.f . of office space, nearly half a million s.f. of hotel space within three hotels, and 280,000 s.f. of retail. The more public amenities are expected to include new parks, four new piers, a half-mile promenade and bike trail, and renovation of the existing fish market.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Branching Out in Prince George's County

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Bringing apartments to 19.37 acres near the Branch Avenue Metro Station, Archstone-Smith received approval last month from the Prince George's County Planning Department for Town Center at Camp Springs. Located on the east and west sides of Capital Gateway Drive and Auth Way, Archstone will create 801 rental apartments with 65,359 s.f. of retail in an effort to bring young professionals to the now under-developed section of Prince George's County.

What is their goal? "Humans," said Archstone-Smith Senior Vice President, Rob Seldin. "There's a lot to it. We're trying to take what is now a disaggregated series of different uses and put them together and use our project as a mechanism to create a community."

Seldin said the majority of Archstone apartment residents are between the ages of 25 and 36 and have at least a bachelor's degree. "We have about 85,000 units with 240,000 residents throughout the US. If Archstone was a city, it would be the wealthiest, most highly educated city in the US. We are very focused and targeted on expanding our brand within that demographic segment of the population."

While the Camp Springs project is still in the planning stage, according to the detailed site plan, it will be completed in three phases. Phase one will deliver 416 units, a 7,000 s.f. private club house, and a pool. Phase two will follow suit with similar amenities and 385 units. Phase three will be the retail space. The project will offer over 1,500 parking spaces for residents and shoppers at completion.

Seldin said the town center may even bring more jobs to PG County and that one of the things that drew the developer to the site was its proximity to not only Branch Avenue, but also Andrew's Air Force Base with 22,000 employees and the Suitland Federal Center with 9,500 employees.


"You have a very high concentration of reasonably highly compensated and educated employees working there, and no great place for them to choose to live. For us, this was an opportunity to give these people a chance to live where they work. It's difficult to create housing anywhere, in PG County, it is typically very difficult to have housing approved, so really, what's been happening is these highly educated, highly skilled, highly compensated workers have been systematically disenfranchised, so they go to Arlington, because they welcome them. Arlington knows that these people are great residents, everything good flows from an influx of successful young people. That was our market concept for what we think we would like the Branch Avenue are to expand into," said Seldin.

"If we can begin to recast this location as where this demographic can live, it will help foster entrepreneurial opportunities because office space is inexpensive there," he added.

The developer will finish its purchase of the now-vacant land from a private owner after the project receives all necessary approvals. Seldin said Archstone-Smith hopes to break ground in fall 2009. The Preston Partnership, LLC is the architectural team through entitlement; their portfolio includes the Alexan Dunn Loring in Falls Church and the Ketlands in Gaithersburg.
 

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