Thursday, December 31, 2009

Development and DC's Population Surge: 600,000 Souls and Counting

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Though the economy is stagnant - or perhaps because it is and DC is basking in the glow of federal largesse - Washington DC's population growth is surging. The District released statistics today finding that in 2009 the city added nearly 10,000 new residents, its biggest percentage one-year gain since WWII, outpaced only by Utah (those Mormons), Texas (immigrants), Colorado (blame the scenery) and Wyoming (no idea why). The growth brings the city’s total population just a few sets of octuplets short of 600,000 residents, according to recently released estimates by the United States Census Bureau. DC continues to hold the record for the highest growth of any "federal district" in the continental U.S. Ahem.

According to a press release from the Mayor's Office, the growth can be attributed to a combination of housing supply, better neighborhoods, new births and residents moving to the District from other states and overseas. Mayor Adrian Fenty took some credit, boasting “this kind of growth will only continue as more people see how we are working to improve our schools, provide more transportation options and build healthier, safer, more vibrant neighborhoods.”

There might certainly be something to it from a development perspective. In the past few years, several large, government-lauded residential project have opened to dramatically increase the stock of homes throughout the city. New buildings drew in residents creating dense populations, in previously low-density areas. Within the past 2 years, numerous projects have opened and begun filling with residents; projects like City Vista, (over 600 apartments and condos), EYA's Capitol Quarter (more than 300 townhouses), 22 West (95 units), JPI's three residential projects in the Capitol River Front neighborhood (960 apartments), Allegro Apartments (269 rental units), Kenyon Square (157 condos), Union Row (269 units), and Highland Park (229 apartments); in these 9 projects alone nearly 2900 housing units were added, most of which are now nearly fully occupied.

So the growth could be a sign of improvements for all real estate developers who have been holding their breath, waiting for 2008 and, now, 2009 to pass.

Washington DC real estate development news

West End Development Showdown

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Two months after the drop-dead date for responses to the West End Development solicitation, the parties have released more information about what might replace the aging city-owned sites. Eastbanc-W.D.C. Partners is vying for the parcels, which it briefly controlled two years ago, against a team comprised of Toll Brothers, Paramount Development and Torti Gallas. At a recent community meeting the two groups presented their plans for the sites which include the West End Library, fire station, and special operations police unit. Neighbors have been told to expect a final decision this spring.

According to DMPED Communications Director, Sean Madigan, the Toll Brothers and Eastbanc offers were the only two received in response to the July soliciation. The December 17th community meeting was an opportunity for the groups to show off their plans and answer questions from an often outspoken neighborhood. Local residents became incensed over the lack of BID competition in 2007 when the District attempted to sell the land to Eastbanc Development, which developed the Ritz Carlton hotel and condo and 22 West condos, but which the community viewed as not arms-length.

EastBanc's plans for Square 37, the current site of the library, would create a 20,765 s.f. ground floor library with a 10-story residence above (rendering at left). Designed by LeMay Erickson Wilcox Architects, the plans call for approximately 153 market-rate residential units on the 2nd through 10th floors, and 9,000 s.f. of ground floor retail.

Eastbanc's plans for Square 50 - the fire station - include a replacement fire station on the ground floor and mezzanine with 52 affordable residential units on the 2nd through 4th floors.

At the public presentation Eastbanc responded to questions about including a grocery store in their plan. An Eastbanc representative explained that the group "can and would build a supermarket on site if the community and city united to support it," adding that so far the group has "heard more opposition than support."

The Toll Brother's - Torti Gallas-designed plan for the library calls for 48,000 s.f. of retail, including a 40,000 s.f. grocery store. The library, which the solicitation encouraged developers to keep in the immediate vicinity, would remain in place; 21,300 s.f. on two levels. To top it off, the building will be designed to LEED Silver standards and include as many as 220 residential condos (with views of New York City, if the submitted renderings are accurate).

The group did not submit a plan for the site of the fire station. At the public meeting a Toll Brother's spokesperson explained the decision, saying "if there were some flexibility in some other areas of the Project...we would be willing to discuss subsidizing the construction of the new fire station in Square 50, but we would not be interested in purchasing this site from the District."

Now with two options for Square 37 and only one for Square 50, the DMPED's office will review the community concerns, which they will continue to accept through January, and may eventually request a "best and final offer" from the developer that demonstrates a response to community feedback. A decision should be made by the spring, said Madigan, at which point the land disposition negotiations will begin. Madigan indicate that process could take between 6 and 12 months, and would end with review by the City Council.

Eastbanc had been awarded development rights to the site in 2007, but an outcry over the non-competitive award caused the Council to revoke the grant. Eastbanc was one of the partners awarded the rights to develop the Hine School at the Eastern Market last September.

Washington, D.C. real estate development news

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

DCMud's 2009 Year in Review

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DCMud looks back on 2009 by presenting the real estate year in review. In what might go down as "The year nothing got built", officials and builders at least found time set up the pins for 2010. And while 2009 is a year most real estate professionals would like to pretend never happened, it did. Here's the best and the worst:

Howard Theater Plans Approved (Jan 1) The District approved plans to turn historic but dilapidated Howard Theater into an arts venue. Ellis Development expected work to begin by summer, but financing obstacles have left the building unmolested.

Hilton Gets OK'd (Jan 2) Lowe Enterprises received approval by the HPRB to renovate the "Hinkley" Hilton hotel and add a large residential tower on the site of its outdoor pool. Renovation work got underway in the spring, closing the pool, but the condo tower appears far off.

Work Begins on East-West Apartment Project (Jan 6) Post Properties began work on their 364 apartments in Hyattsville, MD.

DC's Southwest Fish Market Loses Shacks (Jan 8) Several fish shacks on the waterfront were ordered razed as part of the plans for PN Hoffman to build its massive mixed-use waterfront community nearby, but the project remains a long way off.

Ft. Totten Promises Development (Jan 14) Mayor Fenty joined Lowe Enterprises to announce the sale of 9 acres at Ft. Totten that will house nearly 900 new apartments, but work is not anticipated in the near future.

Eckington Convent Gets Moving (Jan 15) In a literal push for affordable housing, Northstar Development tugged a historic convent to a new site to make way for a large, low-income housing project. Neighbors were less than thrilled about yet more affordable housing in the area.

Montgomery County Votes to Endorse Purple Line (Jan 21) Amid copious argument, County planners said yes to adding a light rail line to the bike trail, enabling construction of the Purple Line.

Developers Propose Razing Meads Row (Jan 21) Owners of historic rowhouses on the 1300 block of H Street proposed knocking down the old beauty queens to replace them with a parking lot. Neighbors did not love the idea.

McMillan Sand Filtration Plans Get First Details (Jan 24) Developers chosen to build the crumbling McMillan site showed the public initial designs and ideas they hope will turn the vacant patch into a thriving town center.

Bethesda Post Office To Turn into Mixed-Use Project (Jan 27) The Post Office at 7001 Arlington Road received approval to turn it into a mixed-use development with 105 residences, thanks to Arlington-based Keating Development and KGD Architects, work has not yet begun.

Eisenhower Ave Towers Approved
(Jan 25) Lane Development's 22-story, 4-building complex on Eisenhower Avenue received initial design approval. The county voted June 13th in favor of the project. Much work remains before towers stand alongside the beltway.

Alexandria Goes Green (Jan 26) - A working group adopted a LEED-certified plan for all buildings in Alexandria requiring special approval. The recommended standards are not binding.

Auctioning Babe's (Jan 30) - Having kicked out rent-paying tenant Babe's Billiards, Clemens Construction was unable to get support for its years of effort to build a condo, and having paid $7.4m for the site, the wait couldn't last forever. The property was foreclosed, and Douglas Development added the real estate to its portfolio, intending retail, but the space remains vacant.

Poplar Point Development Abandoned (Jan 31) - The District govt. and Clark Realty decided developing the 110-acre parcel of prime waterfront space wasn't such a good idea after all, calling the whole thing off.

Institute of Peace Gets Underway on the Mall (Feb 2) The five-story building, now nearly complete, took the place of a parking lot near the Lincoln Memorial. The building was designed by Moshe Safie and Associates, in the hopes of fostering world peace. Meanwhile, world strife continued.

Kettler Produces Another Crystal City Project (Feb 3) Kettler began the third phase of its 10-building, 8-phase Metropolitan Park Development with a 411-unit apartment building designed by Dorsky Hodgson Parrish Yue.

Fitz Condos in Rockville Auctions Remaining Units (Feb 10) Condo developer Elad ended nearly 5 years of marketing on the Fitz condos and sent the remaining 40 units of the 221-unit building to auction. In October, Elad did the same for the Colonnade, its Gaithersburg condo project.

Metro station at Potomac Yards (Feb 11) Alexandria formally established a working group to explore the technical and practical viability of a metro station at the Yards, in preparation for further development that did not choke area roads.

Del Ray Apartments Roll Out (Feb 13) Work began turning vacant storefronts into 141 apartment units in the Del Ray section of Alexandria.

Mixed-Use in College Park (Feb 24) The Mark Vogel Companies got the go-ahead for the Varsity, a 258-unit mixed-use apartment building in College Park.

JBG Gets OK for Whitman Walker condos (Feb 25) After getting bashed by the grumpy neighbors, the ANC, and HPRB for designs that seemed to please no one, JBG Companies and architect Shalom Baranes tweaked the designs to get the green light to build condos on the site of the Whitman Walker clinic.

JBG Plans 4-Star Hotel for U Street (March 2) JBG began plans to build a 250-bed luxury hotel in place of the Rite Aid, on a strip once known for its destruction in the '68 riots.

Riverfront's Canal Park Steps Forward (March 25) Canal Park, a 3-block park through southeast's Capitol Riverfront, moved closer to reality when OLIN was named as the landscape architect for the project.

DCMud Chosen as Best Real Estate Blog (March 26) CityPaper selects this real estate journal in its annual "Best of DC"; we gladly accept.

Smithsonian Designs New Museum (March 30) The Smithsonian unveiled designs for its museum of African American History at 15th and Constitution. The Institute also said its costs had nearly doubled, to $500m. The following month, the Smithsonian announced that the Freelon Group, Adjaye Associates and Davis Brody Bond in association with SmithGroup were chosen to carry out the design.

Frank Ghery Selected to Design Eisenhower Memorial (April 3) The memorial to the General and President will be built on Independence Avenue, between 4th and 5th Streets.

District Selects Team to Redevelop SW Site (April 6) DC Selects Potomac Investment Properties, City Partners and Adams Investment Group to build half a million square feet of office and retail, and replace the fire station.

Towers on the Way for New York Avenue (April 7) Bozzuto said it would soon begin building a 13-story residential building at 460 New York Ave., and possibly makeover the abandoned warehouse too.

Donohoe Unveils Big Plans for Bethesda (April 16) The developer will build 81,000 s.f. of office, 457 residential units, and retail, on two sites in the Woodmont Triangle.

Social Safeway Says Goodbye (April 20) The preeminent Georgetown grocer announced it would shut its doors and rebuild from ground up, but will it still be "social"?

JPI unveils southeast DC apartments (April 22) JPI completed the 421-unit 909 at Capitol Yards, as well as the Axiom and Jefferson, a threesome of large apartment buildings near the new ballpark, bringing life to the "Capitol Riverfront" neighborhood.

Arlington's First Platinum Residences (April 28) Erkiletion Development won approval from Arlington for a LEED Gold, 16-story apartment building in Courthouse, a 254-unit apartment designed by the Lessard Group.

JBG wins approval for Bethesda Row centerpiece (May 5) The Planning Board said yes to Woodmont East, a 250-unit residence and separate office building built around the bike trail.

High-rise Planned for Downtown Bethesda (May 23) The Clarrett Group announced plans to build an office building on the site of the McDonalds and its parking lot.

Noma Gets its First Hotel (June 3) The Finvarb Companies and Marriott joined for a new hotel, one of many new Marriotts in the DC area, but the first place to sleep in Noma.

Floridian Goes South (June 9) Sales at Kady Development's condo project, a bit of South Beach on Florida Ave., were stopped by the bank.

Room and Board Picks 14th St. for DC (June 10) The retailer added to the growing 14th Street retail corridor. The store should open in the 2nd half of 2010.

Founders Square Begins Demolition Work in Ballston (June 17) Work begins on the WMATA site that Shooshan will turn into two office towers and a sizable residential building.

W Comes to DC (June 24) After a few changes in ownership, the Starwood Capital Group purchased the fading Hotel Washington, making it hip once again.

Eastern Market Reopens (June 25) After a fire gutted the beloved market, the city had a new one built, with improvements to boot.

JBG Gets Approval for Massive Twinbrook Project (June 29) The developer plans for Twinbrook Station, a 2.2 million square foot complex at the Twinbrook Metro.

Florida Avenue Gets Jazzed (July 7) Banneker Ventures promised it was partnering with Bank of America to get going on the Florida Avenue project it won from WMATA more than a year ago, but which had not gotten underway; work has not yet begun.

DC Passes Bill for Convention Center Hotel (July 14) Quadrangle Development is to build the 1100 room Marriott, but JBG protests the selection process, and the site remains a parking lot.

DC Seeks to Finish Off West End (July 15) The District sought a developer for 3 low-density parcels, anomalies in the now-dense neighborhood.

Curtain Call for Takoma Theater (Aug 1) Owners of the Takoma Theater promised to bring down the house, literally, to make way for an office building, then a theater, but the community is calling for an encore.

Penn Quarter Gets Luxury Apartment Building (Aug 4) Hanover Co. opened its first DC-area project at Judiciary Square, while building another in Falls Church.

District Cancels Lincoln Theater Development
(Aug 6) Quietly, the District government withdrew its plans to redevelop the back lot, a scheme that would have helped fund the struggling theater.

Arbor Place Returns
(Aug 7) Scrapping plans to build as many as 3500 market-rate residential units, Abdo shifts in favor of less than half as many subsidized homes.

DC Mandates Subsidized Housing (Aug 11) After the Executive Branch slowed the process, the Council finally got its way and forced builders to provide the city with cheap housing for the poor.

Columbia Pike Lurches Ahead
(Aug 20) After seceding from Virginia (bureaucratically), the Pike gets 325 new residences underway at Penrose Square.

Southwest Towers Foreclosed (Aug 21) Fairfield Residential loses its grasp on The View, a refurbished apartment building in southwest, in another foreclosure statistic.

Montgomery County Gets Taller (Aug 21) JBG caps its 24-story residential tower on the Pike, making it the new tallest residence in Montgomery County.

St. Elizabeths Team Chosen (Aug 28) The GSA selected Clark, WDG, and HOK to build out the new landlocked Coast Guard Headquarters, in what will be one of the largest construction sites in the District. Less than a month later, the Feds broke ground on the site.

NoMa Caps Largest Mixed-Use Building (Sept 1) Soon residents will outnumber construction workers, as StonebridgeCarras and SK&I finish 440 apartments and a hotel, possibly in early 2010.

A Giant Delay (Oct 1) Street-Works vision for a large mixed-use replacement for the forlorn low-rise Giant on Wisconsin seemed to please no one, but discussions move forward.

Park Morton Team Moves Forward? (Oct 7) DC officials picked the team to build the capacious Georgia Avenue project - now with the Central Union Mission site included. Probably.

Clarendon's Affordable Housing Breaks Ground
(Oct 15) The Views at Clarendon starts work on 116 mixed-income units after a long zoning dispute, going up to the Supreme Court, gets resolved.

Northwest One Team Selected (Oct 27) The massive project that could transform the area close to the Capitol Building is set in motion, but the Mayor's choice raises eyebrows on the Council.

Silver Spring Designs Downtown Library (Oct 29) The county releases its plans for the urban repository; the new building will straddle the new Purple Line, someday, when further details are worked out.

Capitol Hill's Big Dig (Nov 15) CSX says it needs to tear up Virginia Avenue to rebuild the train tracks, just when local residents thought the majority of construction in the neighborhood was nearly complete.

Bethesda's Parking Quagmire (Dec 2) The county wants PN Hoffman and Stonebridge to build 1100 parking spaces below Bethesda Row, but the $80,000-per-space sticker gives some locals road rage.

Street Cars are Here (Dec 16) At long last, H Street's public transport arrives from Europe, but officials say that getting them running in Northeast is another matter.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

District Libraries Prepare for Full Body Makeover

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Two District of Columbia public libraries are seeking approval to raze their current buildings to make room for a total makeover in 2010. The dazzling new 20,000 s.f., LEED-certified buildings should be back in service to the surrounding communities by 2011. The new Washington Highlands Neighborhood Library at 115 Atlantic Street, SW, and Francis A. Gregory Neighborhood Library at 3660 Alabama Avenue, SE are designed by international architects Adjaye Associates along with Wiencek and Associates, who were awarded over $2.6 million for the designs.

The construction contracts differ from many District contracts in that an initial small amount is paid to the construction contractors as they negotiate their way through the design process with the architects. Then the contractors will proffer an estimated maximum construction cost, which will have to go before the City Council for approval. According to George Williams, spokesperson for the DCPL, the estimated costs for construction at each library is $10 million, but total costs could range up to $16 million depending on the contractors and the City Council.

The award for construction for the Washington Highland branch went to a partnership between Coakley & Williams and Blue Skye Construction. The design, reminiscent of the Tenley Library just begun, received approval from the Commission of Fine Arts in November. Library authorities are hoping for raze approval in the end of January or early February with construction beginning shortly thereafter. The temporary location opened this month at 4037 South Capitol St., SW.

Hess Construction will partner with Broughton Construction Company LLC to build the new Francis A. Gregory Library. DCPL submitted a raze application in October and the agency is also waiting on approval before any construction can begin.

Both new buildings will feature a public meeting room, study areas, a computer lab, and separate reading areas for children, teens and adults.

Washington, DC real estate development news

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Continuing Saga of Skyland Town Center

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Apparently three hours worth of a Zoning Commission hearing was not enough time for all interested parties to have their say about Skyland Town Center, a the proposed mixed-use residential and retail development. Neighbors showed up in force to voice their concerns and hesitant support for - or outright opposition to - the project set to bring 450-500 residential units and 315,000 s.f. of retail to the intersection Alabama Avenue & Good Hope Road, SE. The five-member development team, made up of the Rappaport Companies, William C. Smith & Co., Harrison Malone Development LLC, the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization (MHCDO) and the Washington East Foundation, has been working with the community on the plans for Skyland for 7 years. The December meeting ended with a "to-be-continued" status, set to finish (in theory) February 4, 2010.

Original plans called for 80% of the residential units to be condominiums, an obvious non-starter today. According to one resident who spoke before the Zoning Commission, the community first began pushing for new development in the town center area in 1989, in 2000 then - Mayor Anthony Williams' administration chose the current development team to plan and build the mixed-use center. The DC Council has already approved a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) package to provide gap financing for the project.

Residential units will be provided in three apartment buildings and approximately 20 townhouses. Developers hope the retail will include a big box retail store, multi-neighborhood retailers, and local retailers.

ANC-7B submitted a letter of support, but it listed approximately 20 concerns or items that needed further discussions, including concerns over traffic mitigation, litter control, and promised transportation enhancements. One group of neighbors, the Ft. Baker Drive Party, remains in complete opposition citing concerns over, naturally, the proximity of the planned development to their homes. Neighbors such as Tiffany Brown, a resident of neighboring Akron Place, said they opposed any type of development on the site that added housing to the retail mix, citing abundant housing already in existence.

After three hours of testimony from the developers and residents, the Zoning Commission set the schedule for February to hear the Office of Planning's report on the project.

Washington DC real estate development news

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Arlington's Rossdome of Art

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Arlington planners have less than a year left on their self-imposed deadline to transform the former Newseum into Rosslyn's cultural center, and want you to come up with a name for it.

Transformation of the former Newseum site is scheduled for completion by the catchy date of 10/10/2010 (easier still to remember if the deadline is missed), by which time the 53,000-square-foot "showcase for the arts" will include an exhibition gallery, a "black box" theater for the Washington Shakespeare Company, IMAX screen, ballroom for cultural dances and lessons, and restaurant and retail space. Arlington is seeking LEED Silver certification for the project. The space has been unoccupied since 2002, when the Newseum moved to Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC (hard to imagine George Stephanopoulos broadcasting with the Rosslyn streetscape as a background).

The building, an ill-fitting dome on top of post-modernist prefab - fed of course by overhead walkways - was originally conceived by Ralph Appelbaum Associates. Arlington has entrusted The Lukmire Partnership with the renovation that will retain most of its original exterior but feature a fully-renovated interior space. But first, of course, the building needs a name, and the county is seeking public input on the new moniker. Interested parties are encouraged to vote online for the best new name - but freethinkers need not bother, the county has limited the vote to 3 choices.

Arlington has a 20-year lease on the property at 1101 Wilson Boulevard from Monday Properties, which owns the corner, and has plans on the boards for the nearby 1812 North Moore Street project, a 35-story tower that vie for the title of the region's tallest building.

Arlington, Virginia real estate development news

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Foreclosure Issued on Site of $4 Million District Investment

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The fate of a Ward 8 development project promising 31 affordable rowhouses - thanks to a little help from the District - is now in question. In July of 2008 the District Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) provided $4 million in funds for the project from the Housing Production Trust Fund. However, earlier this month, lender KBank issued a notice of foreclosure to Stanton View Development for the property at Stanton and Elvans Roads, SE. In the mere year and a half since the District's infusion of cash, the developer has had its registration with Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) revoked and most recently was issued a foreclosure notice on December 11th.


Stanton View Development, LLC a subsidiary of Capitol Homes and Communities, LLC received the District loan in return for promised affordable ownership units at 80% AMI, which would be reserved as affordable for low to moderate income residents for 40 years. The DHCD funds made up almost 1/3 of the estimated $11.6 million project costs. The developer originally purchased the 4.5 acre site at 3000-3028 Stanton RD SE in 2007 for $3.2 million.



The developer could not be reached for comment, and the number listed on the developer's project website was disconnected. Capitol Homes and Communities has also had its registration revoked by DCRA.

UPDATE: DHCD spokesperson, Angelita Colon-Francia, responded to DCMud's request for information on the $4million investment in Stanton View's townhome project, saying "DHCD is committed to protecting the city's investment and we're monitoring the actions of Stanton View Development." Colon-Francia added that DHCD is monitoring the steps the developer is taking to prevent foreclosure and that the developer provided the agency with a copy of a "commitment of funds from Capital Bank to settle the outstanding loan with KBank." According to Colon-Francia, Stanton View is set to close the loan with Capital Bank and settle the loan with KBank by January 5th. Should the developer fail to settle the foreclosure with KBank by the 5th, DHCD is "prepared to take actions to protect the City's investment no later than January 11th," said Colon-Francia.

Washington DC real estate development news

Arlington Picks Donohoe To Build Long Bridge Park

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Donohoe Construction beat out three other bidders for the construction contract for Arlington County's Long Bridge Park. The Park borders the Potomac River, Crystal City, I-395, the Pentagon, Roaches Run Wildfowl Sanctuary and Reagan National Airport. With a low bid of $23.7 million, Donohoe was awarded the contract by Arlington earlier this month, with adjusted costs bringing the award to $26 million for work on the 46-acre property. The improvement will include lighted athletic fields, more than a mile of walking trails, a public river overlook, and new "rain garden" among other amenities. County documents indicate work will start by early 2010 with a completion date set for summer of 2011.

The first phase of development will include three full size, lighted athletic fields, trails, Esplanade (a broad, half-mile long, raised walkway), overlook, picnic areas, restrooms, and on-site parking for 180 vehicles. Additionally, the county will begin improvements to Old Jefferson Davis Highway, which will change from being a simple two-lane road to include up to 100 spaces of on-street parking, painted bike lanes and, of course, fewer potholes. Environmental remediation efforts center on removing lead from the formerly industrial property.

The County will fund Donohoe's contract almost entirely through the available $23 million in 2004 Park Bond funds. The bond funds will be paired with $2 million from a partnership with Marymount University, which will have rights to 500 hours of use for the new park and fields. With the additional planned phases, the entire project is expected to cost roughly $90 million.

Arlington Virginia real estate development news

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Zipcar Coming to an Alley Near You

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Last night, Zipcar won a small but meaningful victory for car-sharing in D.C. when the Zoning Commission formalized a set of regulations to allow car-sharing spaces throughout the District. The new zoning definitions and requirements allow Zipcar and other car-sharing services to operate in places most other commercial enterprises cannot. In short, the move means the company, which DDOT Director Gabe Klein holds dear to his heart as a former Zipcar exec, can continue to provide car-sharing vehicles, already in residential neighborhoods, and expand their presence throughout the District.

As DDOT continues to invest time and money into providing safe alternative forms of transportation, such as Smartbike, street cars and contra bike lanes, the agency works with other DC authorities to revamp old regulations to make room for smarter transportation policies. The rules demonstrate a willingness by various District agencies to provide alternative forms of transportation for DC residents. Karyn LeBlanc, DDOT Spokesperson, told DCMud, "DDOT supports car-sharing programs as a means to encourage reduction of congestion, and environmentally friendly transportation alternative and as one solution to limited parking resources throughout the city."

Parking is a premium in the City and many of the limitations to car-sharing programs under the new rules are related to space requirements. In the District, zoning requirements stipulate how many parking spaces must be provided based on the building size and use. The new regulations for car-sharing state that a mixed-use site (i.e. condo with ground floor retail a la the Ellington) or a specially zoned site can include Zipcars as long as the cars do not take up any of the required spaces for a building of the size. So if you need 20 spaces and you have 22, then those 2 extra spaces can be used for car-sharing.

Additionally, the regulations limit some residential buildings to two car-sharing spaces on a single lot, which also cannot be the required parking for the lot. In other residential areas the same rules apply except that additional cars can be on the site if they are within or under a principal structure (i.e. apartment building, condo, parking garage) and are, again, not the required parking spaces for that location. Basically, if you want Zipcars in your condo, check on the number of spaces provided versus the number required, if there are extra, then you can have Zipcars; otherwise, you're out of luck.

At the hearing Zipcar Marketing Manager for DC, Anthony Marinos testified, "We consider ourselves a vital part of the DC community. Having vehicles placed in residential areas and areas of convenience to our members and potential members is something we feel very strongly about."

Monday, December 21, 2009

AHC Plans 8-Story Condo for Rosslyn

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A three-story apartment complex in Rosslyn could soon be replaced by an eight-story condo and apartment building, bringing upwards of 225 units of metro-centric residential development. AHC, Inc. owns the 67 year old, 42-unit building at 1545 Key Boulevard, five blocks from the Rosslyn metro. AHC plans to build up the 1.24 acre site to replace the outdated building in need of serious upgrades. If all goes according to plan, the new development could be ready for move-in within four years, including planning, permitting and construction.



The developer's rationale behind replacing the existing building with a larger new building is related to concerns over the energy-efficiency of the building, aging systems and handicap-accessibility issues, among others. AHC began the planning process for the development considering the "significant investment needed to address the various deficiencies" and the site's "proximity to D.C."
The proposed project would include between 175 and 225 condominium and affordable rental apartment units with below-grade parking.

AHC's initial timeline includes 1-2 months of community outreach, followed by up to 12 months of planning and review, up to 12 months for permitting and approximately 24 months for construction. The group hopes to submit a site plan application to the County by June 2010. AHC is working with Bush Construction Corp. as their general contractor and development partner for the condo element of the project. Though the group has been consulting an architectural firm, there is currently no architect of record.

Friday, December 18, 2009

District Looking for Takers on 7 Properties in Ward 8

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Today, the District Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) announced a solicitation for offers for seven properties in Ward 8, with one in southeast and six in southwest Washington DC. The solicitation seeks offers for the development of single and multifamily housing units, including affordable units. Five of the seven District-owned properties sit on the same street.

All offers must include designs that meet the Green Communities Standard, 2008. Additionally the developers must make at least 30 percent of the properties affordable for people at 60 percent AMI.

A pre-bid meeting will be held at the Department’s offices at 1800 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd (corner of Good Hope Road), Wednesday, January 27, 2010, at 2 pm. The deadline for submitting proposals will be February 15, 2010 at 3 pm.



Thursday, December 17, 2009

Metro Set to Demolish DC Village

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Metro (WMATA) is preparing to raze DC Village, a 16-acre Ward 8 homeless shelter shuttered in 2007, to make room for new construction of the SW bus depot. Metro paid $6.45 million in July for the future home of up to 114 buses serving the greater DC area, with the potential to expand service for up to 250 buses. The garage will replace the seldom-missed bus depot near the Nationals' ballpark, sold to Akridge and Monument Realty in 2008 and demolished to make way for a multi-use (but unbuilt) project. The raze application is the first sign of forward motion since the formal groundbreaking in September.

According to Ron Holzer, spokesperson for WMATA, the demolition company, Sabre Demolition, will be paid $1.89 million for their services. Holzer added he expects the first raze permit approval in mid to late January with demolition by February. The District is still seeking applications for contractors to provide design and construction services for a Bus Maintenance Facility for the site through December 23, 2009. Holzer said once Metro award the contract the actual construction could commence in the Fall of 2010.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Streetcars are Coming!

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The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced today that DC's streetcars have finally arrived in the District and will no longer be gliding through the streets of the Czech Republic. The three cars, which arrived in Baltimore via ship on Saturday, will be stored in Greenbelt and tested so workers are familiar with their function.

Today's announcement does little to clear up when the cars will be able to roam freely through DC, but does give residents (and taxpayers) a hopeful sign of things to come. DDOT Director, Gabe Klein, said “We’re also thrilled to have the streetcars here locally so we can familiarize ourselves with them, test them and prepare for the day when we will put them in service.”

Manna Seeks to Buy Land, Under Their Building

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Non-profit developer of affordable homeownership housing, Manna is trying to buy a parcel of land from the District of Columbia, but it doesn't need a real estate agent to find it. The land sits beneath the historic Whitelaw Hotel at 1839 13th Street NW, which Manna purchased back in 1991. The Whitelaw Hotel is a significant landmark described as a former "haven for African American entertainers, civil rights leaders and entrepreneurs." Manna has been renting the land since, and now the District is pondering whether to sell the land outright.

The DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will hold a hearing tonight prior to submitting the proposed transfer of ownership to the City Council for review and approval. The current deal would sell the land to Manna for $427,500.

The transaction is part of the Land Acquisition for Housing and Development Opportunities (LAHDO) process by which the District leases land and sells any improvements to developers in order to rehabilitate the space and, in the case of the Whitelaw, to maintain the property for affordable housing. Under a LAHDO agreement, a developer leases the land from the district and within 5 years of the property being "placed in service" can choose to exercise an option to proceed with the land acquisition.

According to DHCD Project Manger Jim Thackaberry, Manna purchased the Whitelaw and began leasing the land in December of 1991. The Whitelaw was put into service in 1994 as a rental property providing hosuing for lower-income families in the Shaw/U Street community. In 1999 the developers began a series of negotiations with the city in hopes of purchasing the underlying land.

The hearing with begin at 6:30 PM and will take place at DHCD at 1800 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

VIDA Gets Zoning OK for U Street Flagship

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VIDA Fitness received the okay today to build its "flagship" gym and spa on U Street. VIDA's owner will renovate the near century-old building at 1612 U Street and add an 8,500 s.f. extension glass extension to accommodate the new gym.


VIDA owner David von Storch, who also owns Bang Salon, Aura Spa and Capitol City Brewing Company, has long sought to replace his tenants in the building to create the 4th VIDA in the area. All the better that the current tenant is Results Gym, a competitor that has reached the end of its lease. The new gym will easily out-muscle the current occupant, as well as existing VIDAs, with a 51,500-s.f., 4-story gym boasting "a private rooftop club with a 60-foot pool, resort cabanas, communal fire pit, outdoor waterfall, sundeck and a member lounge with restaurant service," substantially beating out the 29,000 s.f. Verizon Center location.

The newest gym will also be the first to integrate all four of von Storch's entities at one site, with a new, still unnamed restaurant, operated by Capitol City Brewing Company, taking over the first-floor restaurant space. Architectural design by - you might guess this one - Stoneking-von Storch Architects, which also designed the interior of the other 3 locations. CORE architecture + design designed the addition and rooftop pool facility.

Today's 1pm hearing before the Board of Zoning Adjustment means von Storch can get pumped up for a March 2011 opening, and puts him on track to open what he hopes will be 8 stores by 2015.

 

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