It took years of planning, 3 generations of family financing, and alot of perspirational equity, but the Lofts of Del Ray Village are finally under construction. Developer-architect Gaver Nichols purchased the property eight years ago with several partners and poured the foundation last year, but when the financial world underwent cosmic implosion, things got interesting. Now, with a new financing plan in place thanks to "Grandma's CD's," construction is about to get underway.
"Tenacity pays off," says Nichols, who closed on a new financing package three weeks ago with the help of a sizable collateral from the aforesaid grandma and other extended family. "We were able to make the bank happy through the coordinated effort of all the partners," says Nichols, who "had to convince the bank that real estate is not an evil thing," not to mention getting plans through the city government. "It just shouldn't have been this difficult."
Nichols estimates that a year from now the finished product will be unveiled: a single wood-framed building with brick veneer; four townhouse components, each comprised of double two-story units. The condo units run from 2,053 to 2,949 s.f. Nichols says the units will be primarily offered for rent, though if the right offer to purchase came along he could be tempted to part with his "labor of love."
The most unique part of the project is that each of the units will be built to the higher commercial code, but with interiors that enable them to function as live-work spaces, residential condos, or pure office spaces, depending on the needs of the tenant (or buyer.) Each of the 5 partners will control two of the units, increasing the odds of a mix of uses. Nichols stresses that the development is comprised entirely of locals with a vested interest in the community - even the benches on the sidewalks, which will be dedicated to relatives that helped out at the project's inception but did not live to see the completed building.
Nichols is also designing a 4-unit condominium down the street, proof that "the avenue is coming alive." But he may be more excited about the lessons learned from this experience, which he plans to translate into what could be called a Design-Build-Finance model. Nichols doesn't want others repeating his experience, and has initiated a Collaboration of Architects and Real Estate experts (CARE) that he sees as a way to add value to other people's property. "Through our expertise of designing, building, architecture, and planning, we can take someone's land or building who doesn't know what to do with their building, and we're able to help them...show them how to better position their property, whether its financing, construction, or planning, not just the design."
At least one of his neighbors knows exactly what to do with their property, and how hard it is to get things done in Alexandria, but that's a story for tomorrow.
Footnote: Subsequent to publication, Nichols informed DCMud that the building would "probably qualify" for a LEED Silver ranking as designed, and that he is "looking at" geothermal heating as an option as well.
Alexandria Virginia real estate development news