Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rhode Island Avenue Northeast: Development "Hotspot"


The corner of 4th and Rhode Island Avenue, NE, may be one of the District's least celebrated corners, but an area hitherto untapped by real estate developers, is finally getting attention. Thanks to PERS Development, a plan to remodel an abandoned 32-unit building at 329 Rhode Island Avenue NE will soon be underway, making way for "hip, boutique, luxury condominium homes." Just a few blocks east of the Rhode Island Ave - Brentwood Metro, the project will build off the local momentum of Baltimore-based A&R Development Corp's 8.5 acre, $108 million project (including 274 new residential rental units and 70,000 s.f. of ground floor retail) that broke ground this spring on the former WMATA parking lot, making the vicinity a "transit oriented developer hot spot." PERS Development is a young and ambitious team with four completed projects under their belts, and now two more in the works. All four of their finished developments have sold out, the last being Sky DC in Randall Highlands. On their four previous projects, PERS has specialized in small, moderately-priced condos. But as advertised, this endeavor seems destined to be slightly more high end than the units sold in Randall Heights for $200,000. However, while PERS President and CEO, Ramin Bassam is promising a "very, high-end boutique product," a price point between high $200,000s and $350,000 proves value also remains a priority. Marty Zupancic of Marcus & Millichap brokered the deal that sees the property travel from the reluctant hands of the previous owner Byung S. Shin of BSS Partnership to the more purposeful and enterprising hands of the developer.

The development will come as welcome news to local residents, but especially so for neighbor Steven Conn who several months ago compiled a slide show of evidence in an effort to convince DCRA that the building at 329 Rhode Island was a hindrance and hazard to the community, and therefore should be classified as "blighted." Local blogger Dan Silverman gave voice to Conn and his cause by highlighting the property with the honorable distinction of the Horse's Ass Award. The District was in the midst of designating the building as blighted and condemned only two months ago, but PERS was able to step in, usher through the necessary building improvements, and remove said designations, enabling the financing and property transaction to go through, and development plans to move forward. The top floors of the building were significantly damaged by a fire that raged in the evening hours of July 31st last summer. While the neglected building, singed, dirty, and windows boarded, is an eyesore at the moment, its proximity to the metro and its location on a highly visible island-like street corner, makes the property apparently attractive to real estate developers. In a press release, Bassam stressed that: “This project represents a great opportunity to fulfill the growing demand for luxury condominiums in the District of Columbia by delivering a high end product in an under-served submarket at a time when supply is getting tight. It has just the type of character and location that we have been looking for.”

SGA Arcitects have been contracted for the design, and initial renderings should be finalized later this week. The building will transform from a sordid blemish of a property into ultramodern, highly-wired chic condos. Each unit will be outfitted with wi-fi and iPad docking stations. Other amenities include a state-of-the-art glass-enclosed gym, a rooftop deck outfitted with a European shower, and various community lounges. Units will be planked with natural bamboo flooring. The bottom floor will reserve room for five retail tenants, an amenity that new owner Bassam says is desperately needed in the neighborhood. "A late weeknight trip to the McDonald's across the street is an at least twenty minute wait in line, there are not enough retail options at the moment," explains Bassam. The often elusive project financing of the acquisition and needed construction, normally the last piece of the development puzzle, is already in place, compliments of Bethesda-based Monument Bank.

Washington D.C. Real Estate Development News

41 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

PERS does great work. I've seen some of their building, and they are beautiful. Thank God they are doing this one. It is a neighborhood in transition. We'll just have to see.

Dan B. said...

Thank God. That building was an eyesore in the community

Mary said...

I saw PERS Development's last building at SKY-DC. It was a great building. Hopefully they can do the same here. Good luck.

K. S. said...

Finally ............ Thank you PERS.

Anonymous said...

This is great news for DC. That is a busy intersection. It could be a good gateway into Brookland.

Anonymous said...

Another slum lord out. Thank you PERS. It takes companies like PERS to walk in our neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

What does PERS stand for?

IMGoph on Aug 25, 2010, 9:33:00 AM said...

whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

dan silverman absolutely does not deserve credit for pushing to get this building designated "blighted." the person who deserves that credit is steven conn, who lives across the street.

if you're on the eckington listserv, you know that steven has been the driving force, railing against the owners and the city for years to get this place moving, especially after the fire there last year.

dan lives in petworth, and while he reported on this, he absolutely did not do the muscle work to make this happen. you need to publish a correction—this is a falsification of the record, plain and simple.

Brooks Butler Hays on Aug 25, 2010, 10:43:00 AM said...

fixed imgoph

IMGoph on Aug 25, 2010, 10:48:00 AM said...

thank you, brooks. much better!

Lydia said...

i don't understand why so many are excited about this renovation, when the "progress" is more unaffordable housing that doesn't serve the neighborhood. by all means, renovate, but it's bs to say that this neighborhood has a need for luxury condos.

Anonymous said...

200-350 is not unreasonable considering the townhomes being built up the street will go for 500-600.

Lydia, it's about meeting the demand for people buying homes. Which in this case is probably more people moving in from other areas rather than existing residents.

If for some reason the demand isn't really there, then this developer will fail. The market economy in this country has a way of taking care of these details.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Lydia. This neighborhood DOES indeed need a luxury product added to it. Has she looked around lately?

Big Al said...

Lydia - why keep building more Section 8 slums that keep perpetuating DC into a hellish nightmare? Like them or not, with their starbucks thirst and fru fru yogert desires, gentrifiers will not walk down the street and stab you in the face for your cell phone. Keep DC moving forward - thanks PERS!!!!!

Sean in the house said...

I agree with big Al 1000%. Thank God luxury condos are coming and thank God its PERS doing it and not someone else like NDC. They do really cool products. What we don't need is another nail salon, liquir store or KFC. This neighborhood is changing and with it its residents whim were OK with all the wrong activities.

Anonymous said...

I like it, I like it, I like it.......

Anonymous said...

in my world there is a huge area between "section 8" and "luxury".

you guys talk like these are our only choices.

janet said...

That building can sure use a make over. I agree with the developer, Ramin Bassam, as this areas really needs new, fresh and hip retail. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

That building is got nice potential.

Anonymous said...

All that building for 0nly $1.5 million? Somebody is gonna make some serious money.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Big Al. This area has enough section 8 with Edgewood Terrace.

I bought in nearby Brookland, and that area is really nice, but RI Ave is the real eyesore of the area. And it's unfortunate too, it has a metro stop and a lot of people pass through there. There is so much potential for better retail than Foreman Mills, Autozone, and a countless number of carryouts and wig shops.

I think RIA will really develop over the next decade. And in a city where the average house price is over 400k, 200-300 IS affordable. That price is within reach of a lot of recent college graduates, which is what this area needs. There's no diversity when an area is 90%+ section 8 or low income folks.

Anonymous said...

$200-300 is 'affordable' for a college student, or someone right out of college? There is no way one could afford an $1800 mortgage plus condo fees on a $60k salary unless they have no other loans to their name (which is unlikely within 5 years of graduating). I moved into the area when condos were in the 200-300 range and I was one of the youngest (25) condo owners, since I bought with a friend.

What this neighborhood needs are middle-of-the-road housing options. What about the $150-200k range? You know, for teachers, young professionals, admins, police/fire, etc. Someone has to work in those retail establishments, you know...why should they have to choose between renting or commuting?

Perhaps a range of condo prices would be the best way to go. Not everyone NEEDS or WANTS iPad hookups or bamboo floors...so give them an option to buy a condo without all the fancy stuff, rather than pricing them out of the building.

Anonymous said...

I think $300K for a two bedroom, two bath given all the mentioned amenities is very reasonable. Building is one block to metro, rooftop gym, retail. What can you buy in DC with all these for $300k?

Anonymous said...

A recent college grad in a professional field makes about $50-$60k. A 1 bedroom at 200k is certainly within reach of that. Plus, the buyer won't need a car, so that eliminates a big expense.

At current rates, $200k= $1000 mortgage payment. Very doable on entry level salary in this town.

Anonymous said...

To the person who said the condos wouldn't be affordable - and then dispensed "what this neighborhood needs is middle-of-the-road housing options." Um, thanks for prescribing "what we need." I guess you're not at all familiar with our neighborhood. We already tried the whole "welcome the workforce housing for cops, teachers, etc" and wound up with St Martin's Apts just 3 or so blocks away from this new project. And now, after receiving neighborhood approval, we've learned that when the giant St. Martin's complex is finished this fall, it won't be workforce housing - but voucher housing.

So thanks for offering your advice on what we need. We've already tried to welcome workforce housing, that backfired after St. Martin's changed their plans, and we're stuck with even more voucher residents.

Que said...

How many people posting on this live in the area (meaning closer than Brookland, Noma, Downtown, Brentwood, Le Droit Park and anywhere else south of New York or Florida Avenues.

Anonymous said...

I'm Steven. That's also my post directly above yours - where I addressed the issue of the saturation of public housing our community has experienced, now with St. Martin's apts about to open their doors as well.

My house is directly behind the building - that's why I worked so hard to hold the negligant building owner accountable and lobbied DCRA to designate it as blighted - which worked - since the owner sold (to avoid paying increased taxes that come with owning a blighted building) and now we're welcoming PERs with open arms. :)

We're very much hoping to see the building turned back into a positive contributor to our community and are excited to see and hear of PERs' plans!

Anonymous said...

Steven, Thank you. You seem to have been very involved in getting rid of the last owner. Without you, we'd still be looking at this eyesore. Did you know PERS was doing to buy the building? They seem to have a very good reputation. Just hope they are not like other developers with huge egos whom are non-responsive to the community and its needs. Were they easy to work with and forthcoming or were they just like the old owner, slimmy and secretive?

Anonymous said...

Wait, I thought Debbie Smith was the one whom got this builoding blighted? Was it Steven or Debbie?

Anonymous said...

The presentation I (Steven) put together, along with the petition can be found in the link in the text of the article here: http://www.princeofpetworth.com/2010/05/horses-ass-award-reader-nomination/

Just click on "329 Rhode Island Ave NE"

Debbie didn't join my next door neighbor and others from around the corner when we presented our case and evidence in front of the Condemned Buildings Board. Since that board made the ruling after our presentation, I'm guessing it was us - since Debbie wan't there.

Regardless this is a win for our community, and we're excited to see a new anchor planted on one of our most visible corners!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Steve. I actually drive by that building everyday. This building will be a gateway to Brookland. Any moron developer can build in Columbia Heights or U street. Very few developers with guts will take on a building with all these issues and neighborhood. We really are thankfull to you, as community activist and PERS for being a visionary developer. Good luck to both of you.

Anonymous said...

Oh This Ramin Bassam person sounds like an individual named Charles Jenkins. Another Rip-Off Guy that does the same thing only he does it on the other side of the district. WARNING TO EVERYONE OUT THERE. THE MINUTE YOU FIND OUT THAT MR. CHARLES JENKINS IS BEHIND THE CONSTRUCTION AND SALE OF ANY PLACE, TEAR UP THE CONTRACT, TEAR UP THE CHECK AND HAUL ASS. DO NOT BUY ANY PROPERTY BUILT BY THIS GUY OR SOLD BY ONE OF HIS PEOPLE. HE HAS A HISTORY OF ALWAYS BANKRUPTING AND RESTARTING HIS COMPANY UNDER ANOTHER ASSUMED NAME SO THAT HE CAN RIP MORE PEOPLE OFF. PLEASE DO YOUR RESEARCH ON THE BUILDER WHEN LOOKING TO BUY A CONDO.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure whom is giving you info, but I read an article that the developer is actually a self-made millionaire, has never been bankrupt, and is pretty low key. He does not not even do face to face interviews, and best anyone has done is get him on the phone. He was also mentioned to be one of the developers to watch, for his ultra boutique projects and good work. Lets not smear someone just because another developer was a jerk. He's changing our neighborhood, which is more than most others even attempted to.

Anonymous said...

Um...I'm a young professional (20's), and I recently bought a condo in the area for almost $200K (good deal), and my mortgage + fees are the least of my concern. I'm paying less than I was in rent, and NOWHERE NEAR $1800 a month (try less than $1300, those low interest rates rock). Yes, young professionals ($50-60K crowd, when I bought I made around $60K and now pull down right around $70K), teachers (who on average in the district make over $80K), and other "middle class" people CAN afford $200-300K. You make certain sacrifices to live in the city, but they're not really sacrifices in the grand scheme of things, and save you money. As someone else mentioned, if you live in an area where you can walk/bike/Metro/Zipcar everywhere, like this area - Giant is about 2 blocks away, Home Depot, new retail at the Metro, Metro, Zipcar at the Metro - you don't need a personal vehicle, which will save you a few grand a year, and with a gym and other amenities on site, and other amenities nearby (shopping and dining to come at the Metro development, community centers with pools and gyms and sports facilities all FREE or CHEAP nearby or Metro-able), you don't need to spend a ton on these luxuries, for some examples. I have a number of friends who have bought in the $200-300K+ a little range who make between $50-70K and aren't struggling.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last blogger. $300K is a good price for a 2 bedroom. Plus you get all the amenities they are offering. Also heard, retail is so sale as well.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I hope they don't raise their prices. Market is getting tight. At the end of the day, developers are pretty greedy.

Anonymous said...

Im really happy that this building is still standing. I lived in this building for 22 years. I grow up in this building I have alot of memories. Thanks alot

Anonymous said...

I just brought a 4 unit apartment building on W street, a stones throw away. Thanks PERS please buy the abandonded building next to mine. Ekington is a good place lets make it great.

Anonymous said...

It's happening NOW! I'm a Condo owner, couple blocks up! RI Metro is connected, Solar trail with Art is (there) the reason of delay on this corner, debate/refusal of (so called) "affordable housing, citing truth, property value goes down of other homes. Across the street from this building, this past summer, A renovated building condo units 2 BR upper $300's sold out before renovation started! Sidewalks are being RE-constructed NOW connecting Brookland (New TH the High $700's+) with 4th and Rhode Island Ave NE. The Spot, that is remaining, the subject of this Blog! Build and Build! TY!

Anonymous said...

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Amir Khan's
Owner
A K Realty Inc.
May 2009 – Present (4 years 11 months)
Real state Agent and Owner of Dcluxurycondos.com
Realtor

 

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