Saturday, October 31, 2009
Located mid-way between the District and Tysons Corner just off I-66, the new community will sit adjacent to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail (W&OD) and Falls Church Park, and across from the Westlee, a condo completed in 2006. The area was the focus of a study that began in 2007 that aimed to improve the metro site's land use, recently dominated by parking lots, and connect it better with the city of Falls Church. Given its proximity to DC and rare undeveloped metro locale, planners have sought a more urban landscape and transport integration
The Crescent will apply for LEED certification upon completion, in the hope that its metro location, recycling center and technical features will secure the status. The Crescent's planned attractions will include a private screening room, concierge, daily hot beverage service, two courtyards – one with conversational firepit and outdoor grilling and dining areas, and the other with dual-sided fireplace and outdoor grilling and dining areas - and each unit should have a view of green space. Developers also plan an "oversized" bike room - intrepid residents could even ride the W & OD and Custis trail into DC - and underground parking garage with preference for low-emission vehicles.
Crescent Falls Church is being built by Texas-based Hanover Company, which has a sizable record of apartment building construction and operation, though the Crescent is only its second DC area foray, having completed Ashton Judiciary Square, one of DC's more design conscious apartment communities, earlier this year in DC's Penn Quarter. The project site had been purchased from K. Hovnanian Homes, which had begun the project as the Easton condo project.
Friday, October 30, 2009
DCMud: Why don’t you tell a little bit about yourself and your role here in the Rosslyn community.
CC: I'm the Executive Director of the Rosslyn BID. I am also Executive Director of our sister organization, Rosslyn Renaissance which was started in 1992 based on a recommendation of the
The second major recommendation of the sector plan was to create a funding mechanism, in addition to the zoning, to implement some of the amenities that were called for in the Sector Plan. That was the creation of the Business Improvement District. Those discussions for the creation of the district took a long time and it finally started up in 2003.
DCMud: As you mention, Rosslyn was designated by several urban planning groups as how not to build a city. How would you say Rosslyn has changed since then?
CC: In the 1960’s and ‘70’s, there were some buildings that didn’t have visible entrances. The retail is hidden away. The sky walk system was part of ‘60’s planning to get people off the street because Rosslyn was a thruway to D.C. So the way Rosslyn has changed is that the buildings that have been improved since C-O-Rosslyn was passed in ’96 have all contributed to fixing up that approved image. Several of them have been completed: The Waterview building was approved in 2000, the
CC: The main thing is that they’ve begun to pay attention to the streetscape and the pedestrian experience. So all of those buildings include retail at the ground-level. They meet the street in a different way than the former buildings. They allow for wider sidewalks. The rooftops are more interesting. And there are amenities that were not thought of when Rosslyn was first built.
Among the amenities that we’ve negotiated are an observation deck, the only one in the region, atop JBG’s
DCMud: Are they having financing delays?
CC: Well, like everybody else, the economic situation is affecting both of those projects. The existing buildings have been demolished so they’ve completed the demolition stage.
DCMud: Rosslyn has some of the highest numbers of commuters that pass through each day. Do you see that as a blessing or a curse?
CC: Oh, it’s absolutely a blessing. This is the most highly-used metro station in the system. It drives the work force. Those are people that are coming to work in Rosslyn. Arlington has a day-time population of 200,000. Rosslyn is a major work center for Arlington. All the commuters are definitely a blessing.
DCMud: Rosslyn has been fairly retail, restaurant, and super market challenged. Not that long ago the Arlington Planning Commission said that Rosslyn has “very little presence or impact.” Do you think that’s changing? Or do you think that’s going to change now especially since a lot of retailers are cutting back?
CC: We should probably talk about our new developments that have been approved, such as JPG’s Central Place, which is in the heart of Rosslyn. Here’s the metro station, right across from Metro. 1812
DCMud: Have they secured any tenants in advance?
CC: No, because we don’t know when they’re going to start construction. They’re hoping that the economy will loosen up and the financial markets will loosen up so that they are able to begin next year. It’s all a waiting game.
DCMud: And you’re hoping that it’s white table cloths? Are there any plans for any other supermarkets in the area, even a smaller one?
CC: There was a low-rise project that was approved at 1716 Wilson Blvd. It’s next door to the 1800 Wilson Condominium that was developed by
DCMud: How is Rosslyn becoming more walkable, more drivable? You have a waterfront location. Is there an effort going on to make that more accessible, more walkable?
CC: We have to talk to the National Park Service about that. In terms of the waterfront, one fantastic asset Rosslyn has that nobody else can claim in the region is the nature preserve—the sanctuary that is
On the streets of Rosslyn itself, the BID has undertaken an extensive beautification project. We have literally taken over all of the traffic islands and done plantings that are just lush and beautiful. Our customer satisfaction survey cites our beautification program as the number one improvement that the BID has undertaken since we began. We’ve made a real effort to green Rosslyn. We put plant containers on the streets as well as trash and recycle bins. We have also developed a wayfinding program. The first part of that program is a parking program that we’ve just installed. The pedestrian part of it will be installed as soon as we name the cultural center. It’s all ready to go, the fabricator has the design, but the cultural center is going to be named in the next few months. So when that is done we’ll install the pedestrian way-finding system. Following that, we will install a vehicular finding system. Gensler was our contractor on the wayfinding system.
DCMud: And as far as making it safer for people to just cross the street, are you working with the VA Department of Transportation to make sure you have signaling, you have signage, to make it a safer intersection for people?
CC: Transportation planning’s a part of every site plan. So you’ll see the sidewalks around the Waterview, for example, and around the Turnberry project, the sidewalks and crossings are all very clearly marked—you can not miss if there’s a crosswalk around Waterview.
All the crossing signals are all timed. We also installed a lighted street sign program. Rosslyn is one of the few areas in Arlington where the street signs are illuminated. We paid for it, and worked in cooperation with the County to get the signs installed. That goes a long way to helping drivers know where they’re going.
DCMud: As far as parking, what is the plan? You said you'll have more signage. Are there plans to have more on-street parking or garages?
CC: There has been a lot of on-street parking added during the last five years — we made a real effort to find every nook and cranny where we could cram in a parking spot and have done that. The fact is there are 12,000 parking spaces underground in Rosslyn and the challenge is for people to be able to find them.
DCMud: I was happy to find on here this morning.
CC: We put up big blue P’s, universal “P’s for Parking” on five buildings with parking spaces that are available to the public. It was a matter of identifying those lots so that people understand they can park there, since many lots are private.
DCMud: I saw an article in the Washington Examiner about trying to extend the Circulator Bus instead of the Blue Bus. Have you been involved in this process at all?
CC: We have been a partner with the Georgetown BID since the year 2000, when they began the Blue Bus. Rosslyn Renaissance raised $100,000 already to go toward the support of the Blue Bus. The Blue Bus was always intended to be a pilot project and what it has demonstrated is the viability of having a bus that goes back and forth across
DCMud: I was under the impression that they're just lobbying for it to do so.
CC: It had been our understanding that it was going to happen. But we aren’t as close to it as the Georgetown BID. They really take the lead on dealings with the DC government. We worked with Congressman Moran on this because he’s been very helpful in supporting the project.
DCMud: Do you want to tell me a little bit more about the two biggest projects in the works, Central Place and Monday Properties?
CC: JBG's Central Place project is split into two towers, an office tower and a residential tower. The office tower will have 549,00 s.f. and the residential tower will have 350 condo units.
DCMud: And they’re still slated for condos even though the market’s leaning toward rentals?
CC: As far as I know. I don’t know that that decision has been made. It will include 44,554 s.f. of retail. The other benefit is a 27,000 s.f. public plaza between the two buildings. So where Metro Park is now, on the opposite side of the Metro Station, that park will almost triple in size. We worked very closely with the landscape designer - Michael Vergason Landscape Architects. The architect is Hany Hassan with Beyer Blinder Belle. The most significant amenity that is part of that project is an observation deck which has a 360 degree view. It will be a major tourist attraction. It has a view of the monumental core, of the Potomac out to Tysons Corner, over to the
DCMud: So, right now they're just trying to decide when they're going to start construction, but they have all the zoning approvals?
CC: Two of the three buildings on the site have been demolished. One remains because it is immediately adjacent to the skywalk that runs between the
DCMud: And Monday Properties...
CC: We don’t have all the particulars, but the most significant aspect of that project is that it’s the first LEED Platinum commercial office building in Virginia and it’s one of only 50 in the United States.
DCMud: And its also pending financing.
CC: Yes. Going back to the question about making the streets more pedestrian-friendly - one of our goals was to break up the super-blocks in Rosslyn because they’re long, long, blocks. So that was the reason for having the park between JBG’s two buildings. The original plan did not have that. As it went through site review, the community helped develop that park.
The 1800 North Moore Street building has a walk-through - so the park for
DCMud: What do you think Rosslyn is going to be like in 10 years?
CC: It will be unbelievable, with the cultural center, the observation deck, and the Synetic Theater, which is now the resident theater company in the Rosslyn Spectrum. We’re saying Rosslyn is going to be the next hot place. With our proximity to Washington, the nexus to transportation, and the kind of amenities that will finally come to fruition, particularly with the arts, it will be terrific. The Cultural Center will have Synetic Theater, Washington Shakespeare Company. Hopefully, there will be a well-known restaurant. There are negotiations that are going on that fit in with that type of activity. The
Until we get to that point, the other thing that we do is "Alive in Rosslyn." What’s happening now is that where we do not have the infrastructure the BID has taken a major lead in providing amenities to the community. We have a free movie series for the summer, the I Love the 80s movie series. It packed in 1,500 people at
We just had our 19th annual festival this year, next year’s our 20th anniversary. We put on a lecture series called Room with a View, to take advantage of the views. Until we have the observation deck, we bring people into private rooms they wouldn’t necessarily have access to. We have had Cokie Roberts, editors from Politico, a whole range of people who have helped us show off what Rosslyn is all about.
DCMud: Anything else you want to add?
CC: There are other major events we participate in. The Marine Corps Marathon comes to Rosslyn the last Sunday in October and brings tens of thousands of people. Eighty to 100,000 people just jam the streets. The last thing we have is our skyline. We have the only skyline in the Washington Metro area. And over the holidays we light up the rooftops. We have a lighting ceremony the first Thursday after Thanksgiving. our homeless services program works in conjunction with our light-up program. We have a gala benefit [for the homeless] that many Rosslyn businesses contribute to. We also run a warm, winter clothing drive in conjunction with that. So there's a social service component to our work as well.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Labels: Lukmire Partnership, Purple Line, RTKL, Silver Spring
Work on the new library, at the corners of Fenton, Wayne and Bonifant Streets in downtown Silver Spring, has been underway since at least 1999, when Montgomery County approved an initial budget. The northern half of the site, on Wayne Avenue, will hold the library and Arts Center, the southern half will be reserved for future housing.
The 7-story building will be multi-purpose, with the first two floors designated, for now, as an art center with a combination of functions such as classes, offices and an art gallery. Floors 3, 4, and 5 will hold the library, and the 6th floor is set aside for county offices and possibly Health and Human Services office space. The top floor, stepped back, will hold meeting rooms for the library. Design specifications also call for a LEED-certified green roof and garden; plans for the 2nd-story pedestrian bridge from the parking garage to the library were scotched as being against Montgomery's urban planning guidelines.
The most interesting element may be the underside of the building, since the site is traversed by the proposed track of the Purple Line, and has been designated as one of the light rail stations, raising the main body of the library well above street level. "Anyone attending the design meetings would recognize that this is a challenging building, working with the purple coming right through" said Williams Evans, project architect for the Lukmire Partnership, which is responsible for the overall design. Lukmire specializes in such challenges, however. "Our firm is probably one of only a handful of firms that have done as many libraries as we have, 35 or 36, to date" said Evans.
Initial site planning was performed by RTKL, and interior design will be completed by the Sandra Ragan Studio. County standards require LEED Silver certification for the building, but Evans says the team is trying to achieve a Gold rating; though the Silver rating is required as a minimum to earn the county's Certificate of Occupancy. " That gets you up in the morning", Evans says of the requirement.
The final public design meeting will take place November 7, at 1pm, in the library at 8901 Colesville Rd.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Labels: Shady Grove
Assuming Koch scares up an investor and financing for the project - "a joint venture between my company, KeystoneREI, which provides the local development expertise and an opportunity fund which provides the equity financing" - Shady Grove residents could be looking forward to a LEED certified development described by County Planning officials upon site plan approval as a "safe and convenient" pedestrian neighborhood complete with "diverse housing types" and ample amounts of open space.
The $80m project will include 313 new housing units, with 30% pledged for "affordable" housing. 59 of the units will be set aside for former Temple Courtiers.
The Warrenton Group has been having a good year with DC officials, having been named recently as the local partner for the planned Park Morton, a $130m project announced earlier this month, and having been selected last December (as Banneker Ventures) to build the Deanwood Community Center, and last October rebuild the Strand Theater. Warrenton Group was also given a new lease on life for the Florida Avenue parcel, awarded to Banneker by WMATA in 2008 but not built out.
Architecture firm Eric Colbert & Associates will design the 12-story building, and William C. Smith & Co affiliated WCS Construction team will build it. The larger Northwest One project, in all $700 million worth of development, will also include Jair Lynch and affordable housing provider Community Preservation and Development Corporation, which together will team up as the One Vision Development Partners as a Certified Business Enterprise.
Monday, October 26, 2009
The agreement gives the museum administrator and federal government 6 months to work out a fair value for the land and sign a purchase agreement; the GSA has estimated the value of land at $60m. Though the site, bounded by 12th Street, SW, Independence Avenue, and C Street, is currently used only as a parking lot, the GSA has not declared the property "surplus," complicating the legislative process. Norton took the bill to full committee mark-up after defending against a last-minute "scoring rule" raised by the Congressional Budget Office, though the bill would maintain budget neutrality. The bill now heads for the Senate for approval.
"Women have waited too long for their own museum in the nation's capital," Norton said, adding that the Museum "has significant potential to bring new visitors to the District, and to encourage others to stay longer." Let the CBO try and score that.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Members of the trio will give a presentation on the "six big ideas" for the District: Linking Fort Circle Parks by way of walking trails to serve as a green beltway around the District, improving public schoolyards, enhancing existing parks with more active uses, improving playfields (particularly increasing regulation sized playing fields), transforming small urban parks, and enhancing "urban natural areas" - supporting biodiversity while serving people. The plan is currently in a 60-day public comment period that concludes December 8th. The event will take place from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Public Library.
Labels: Esocoff and Associates, jpi, Oehrlein Associates Architects
616 E St., NW, Washington DC
The Clara Barton in Penn Quarter was developed by JPI, taking the place of one of the last empty lots in downtown Washington DC. One of the larger condo projects in the city, the Clara Barton is a 273-unit condominium attached to the Lafayette Condos, which is the other half of the building (but a separate condo association). Originally designed as the Jefferson Apartments, plans changed before completion to take advantage of the condo boom. The condominium is therefore highly amenitized, with a workout room, business center, small theater, staffed front desk, and well-designed rooftop with pool. Between the two condominiums is a large interior courtyard, with many units having balconies facing into it. The condo was named after the founder of the American Red Cross, due to the then-recently rediscovered office that was found nearby. Designed by Esocoff & Associates and Oehrlein & Associates. Real estate sales began in August of 2004.
Post your comments about Clara Barton condos below:
Friday, October 23, 2009
The DC Housing Authority (DCHA), the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and the Department of Mental Health were also on hand to celebrate the part they played in funding the overhaul of 98-units within eight buildings spanning the 2700 block of Q and R Streets, SE as well as the 5000 block of Call Place Street, SE.
Beginning in February of this year and wrapping up in August, the Fairlawn-Marshall redevelopment was made possible through financing provided by the Housing Production Trust Fund, DCHA, The Department of Mental Health, Enterprise Community Partners and Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Additionally, Community Builder's VP Rob Fossi paid credit to Aegon for bringing "in money from Holland to make this possible."
Renovations encompassed everything from the installation of energy efficient heating and cooling systems to kitchen and bath upgrades to new security entries. At the conclusion of the conference, Mayor Fenty led attendees on a tour of the updated apartments designed by the Bethesda-based Environmental Design Group.
So wants his new buildings - a mixture of housing, office and studio spaces - to serve the burgeoning artist community in the U Street neighborhood. The building that will face 9th St NW is designed for four stories near the street, with a fifth-floor penthouse set back 18 feet, bringing the entire height to 58 ft, and will incorporate a mix of ground floor retail and second floor office space, the rest to serve as residential and studio space. The other building, connected via a breezeway, fronts 9 1/2 St and will be three stories to include live/work space for artists in the Hamiltonian Artists fellowship program. The first floor would have an open space for working and for the fellows to brainstorm; the other two floors are designed for discounted living space for fellows.
So intends to build his second development to "LEED Platinum at least" - meaning exceeding the highest green rating standards. His current building on U Street boasts a long list of green design features including recycled paper countertops (Paperstone), daylit interiors, passive solar design strategies including southern exposure for passive solar heating in winter and overhangs at southern glazing for shade in summer, green roofs and rain barrels to conserve water usage. According to So, when he and his architect (occupying the office space on the second floor of his U Street building) were planning 9th Street, they consulted with the artists about their needs and came up with the common space for the first floor so they can converse, and special features like venthilation for work rooms.
So what's the problem? The HPO staff report concluded that the three-story building on 9 1/2 St. could move forward, but the building planned for 9th St. was too large in scale compared to surrounding buildings. According to architect Greg Kearley, when the project went through staff review over a year ago, the plan was for a 5-story building on 9th street with a 6th floor penthouse, and the more diminutive adjustment seemed to be something everyone was "comfortable with."
Owner So said his "game plan" is to go before the board to find out what "they would like us to do" so that he and his architect can accommodate their findings into a new plan. Though Kearley did express concern that a smaller building might not be economically feasible, considering much of the space is already slotted for use that will not generate much income. It would stand to reason that the extra floor and those penthouse condos are key to the developer's bottom line. Any fellow can see that.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Labels: BRAC, Brightwood, Georgia Avenue, Mayor Adrian Fenty, Walter Reed
In accordance with the Base Closure Community Redevelopment and Homeless Assistance Act, the District of Columbia - which acts as the Local Redevelopment Authority at Walter Reed - is seeking notices of interest (NOI) for the surplus property. There will be a public meeting tonight at Fort Stevens Recreation Center at 7 PM and a workshop about the base closure planning process, a site tour, and land-use constraints on November 13, 2009 at the WRAMC.
Located between two major artery roads, Georgia Avenue and 16th Street, the property includes substantial frontage on Georgie Avenue and is a prime location for development. To give officials a little wiggle room, Fenty said the District's goal of securing the land is "not guaranteed, but it's looking good." Councilmember Muriel Bowser, Ward 4, said it would be"premature" to make any guesses about the future use of the land, but added that officials were looking to "integrate" the property back into the community, which has a need for green space, recreation, quality retail, parking and office space. "With 62 acres...that's a lot of possibility." Though officials were hesitant to give specific details, the press release from the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development suggested the final plans would call for mixed-use development.
The initiative to obtain the property from the federal government began in 2005 when the Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission announced the closing of the Medical Center, itself a source of much controversy for it mismanagement of patient care. Since the 2005 announcement DC officials have been finessing members of Congress and the Defense Department to win their support for the District's plan to buy the property. Fenty was an early proponent when he was still a Ward 4 Council member. Fenty described the redevelopment as an "incredible opportunity" for the Brightwood neighborhood and the city, adding that the DC government would "work very closely with the community and our federal partners in the months ahead."
Yes, this deal involves a lot of property and yes, federal policies on land use and disposition are certainly tricky, but the Mayor could have just left such a vague announcement for a press release. We can only hope that over the next 12 months the "plan" for the reuse gets more specific than the magic-ball-like update we got today.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Developers amenitized the gated community with a state-of-the art security monitoring system, roof deck, private gym, upgraded lobby, satellite-wired cable system, in-unit laundry, and landscaped courtyard. The newly rebuilt condos offer quartz counters, maple cabinets, and intercom systems.
Savoy is located just off I-295, 1 mile south of the bridge connecting historic Anacostia to the ballpark and Capitol Hill, between the Congress Heights and Anacostia metro stations and across from Bolling Air Force Base. Developers of Savoy Court previously developed Woodson Heights Condominiums, Barcelona Condominiums, Verona Parc Condominiums, Park Triangle Apartments, Adams Court Condominiums, and Pacific House Office & Residential Condominiums. The sales center is open Saturdays and Sundays 1-4, or by appointment at 202-719-9111.
Labels: Eric Colbert, jair lynch, NoMa, Northwest One, WCS Construction, William C. Smith
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
In Simmons v. Commissioner (T.C. Memo. 2009-208), the court ruled in September that two easements made to The L'Enfant Trust , at 17 Logan Circle (pictured) and 1503 Vermont Avenue, were valid charitable contributions, warranting federal tax deductions valued at 5% of the property's value. Preservation easements are common agreements between the owner of a historic or archaeologically significant property and a charitable organization that is chartered to preserve such properties. The agreement grants the charitable organization a legal right to control that portion of the property, a right which is recorded and retained in perpetuity. The property owner's grant to the charity results in a donation, the amount of which is therefore deductible as charitable. Grants in Washington DC generally involve the facade of a property, which thereafter cannot be altered without the consent of the charitable organization.
The L'Enfant Trust requires property owners to affix a plaque on the facade, maintain the subject portion of the property, and make cash contributions to the Trust to facilitate future enforcement. The IRS has disputed this practice, finding no deductible donation. In the case of Simmons, the IRS disputed that the easement had any value, and that the statutory requirements for grants had been met. The Tax Court disagreed, finding that easements do affect the fair market value of the property, in this case by 5%.
While the IRS allows for charitable deductions for a portion of a property (Section 170 (f)(3)(B)(iii), since you were wondering), the IRS determined that in this case L'Enfant could, theoretically, consent to a change in the facade, countermanding the preservation aspect, and that the mortgage was not subordinated to the easement, making it invalid. The court disagreed with the latter, and found it sufficient that the stated purpose of the easement was preservation, finding that the Trust had the legal means to enforce preservation against the owner. The IRS argued in the alternative that the appraiser, who found an 11% decline in the value of the property resulting from the easement, botched (not their words) the appraisal. While that may be a common complaint in the real estate industry, here the court again disagreed, finding 'before' and 'after' values of properties with easements showed a decline in value, though finding only half the drop the appraiser found.
While the ruling applied strictly to federal taxation, and to the L'Enfant Trust in particular, many states and localities have similar statutes and deduction rules, and the logic of the court's ruling will likely support such statutes as well as other charitable organizations.
Monday, October 19, 2009
McGinty submitted a similar request in February 2006 to raze the building, with plans to replace it with an office building. The Takoma Theatre Conservancy formed in opposition to the application, leading to Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) denial of the request. This time around, the HPO waxed philosophical about its role in deciding the future of the property, namely whether it could rightly approve a design that according to various quoted definitions would "demolish" 75% of the historic building, including the auditorium and stage, thus requiring a raze application. The HPO recommends that the HPRB "reaffirm its position that razing the building is inconsistent" with the Historic District Preservation Act.
Still providing no actual review of the planned design, the HPO sets out "next steps" for the owner, such as building in the parking lot adjacent to the theater and funding this endeavor with grants available to such projects. The report also points to other historic theaters, like the Newton, Sheridan and Strand, that either have been or are in the process of being redeveloped without jeopardizing their historic integrity.
Finally, the report reviews the actual design, critiqued for not being "compatible in scale and height given its location on a street of modest one- and two-story" commercial and residential buildings. The staff also indicated that the proposed rooftop addition would subsume the underlying historic building, preventing the theater from being clearly distinguished as a prominent feature.
The HPRB will meet this Thursday to review the plan; while they are not required to agree with the staff report, they likely will do so and make the recommendations official.
* Renderings courtesy of Paul Wilson Architects.
*Picture by Loretta Neumann of the Takoma Theatre Conservancy.
Labels: Archstone-Smith, auction, Donohoe Construction, Elad, Preston Partnership
With about 70 units in the 307-unit building still unsold, El-Ad is putting 40 of those condos on the block, having recently shut down its sales office, with minimum bidding prices starting at $169,000. Back in February, El-Ad put the remaining 40 units of its only other local project, the Fitz of Rockville, on the auction block, ending nearly 5 years of sales there. Both the Fitz and Colonnade at Kentlands were developed by Archstone-Smith and built by Donohoe Construction. The Colonnade was designed by the Preston Partnership for its originally intended use as an apartment building, uber- amenitized with a party room, computer room, theater, study, swimming pool, sauna, fitness center, cyber cafe and billiard room.
The 10-building compound, with 6-story parking garage, was completed by Archstone in December of 2005 and sold to El-Ad shortly thereafter.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Owners Michael Gewirz, Steven Gewirz, Edward Kaplan and Albert Small formed the LLC when the owners of three older office buildings decided to combine their lots and construct one massive building under joint ownership. The former buildings were demolished in 2007. Project Manager Michael Tyler of MJ Tyler and Associates estimated that the total hard construction costs will come in around $70 million, with total project costs around $180 million. Interior design firm WDG Architecture worked with Pei to design a building that should garner LEED Gold approval, assuming everything goes according to plan.
Though demolition began in 2007 and construction was initially to begin in 2008, the group sat on the property, leaving some chafing at the vacancy of the highly visible site. Negotiations with major law firms to secure a tenant lead first to Mayer, Brown, Rowe and Maw, but fell through, and there were even rumors of the owners' application to the city for a permit to use the site for parking in the interim. Eventually, the group secured law firm Arent Fox to fill the role. Tyler said the group waited "because of the market and because of the timing with the lead tenant."
Arent Fox, having signed on in May 2008, will be the lead tenant, occupying 74% of the space with 8 floors and over 238,000 s.f. of office space. According to Arent Fox's Steven Harras, the firm expects to open its new doors in early 2013, which will coincide nicely with the 2012 expiration of the firm's current lease just down the street at 1050 Connecticut Avenue.
According to Audrey Cramer, Vice Chairman at Cushman and Wakefield, the top floors of the building are available for lease and include up to 120,000 s.f. of space, which she estimates will go for around $60/s.f. triple net. According to Tyler there is also approximately 14,000 s.f. of ground floor retail space available. At this point, Cramer said the brokers are "flexible" on how tenants choose to lease space in "the best building in Washington, with the best location."
Construction image courtesy of DC Kaleidoscope.