Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two Year Extension Given to Uline Arena Redevelopment Plans


Like many developments around the city, Douglas Jemal's plans for the vacant Uline Arena and Ice House will remain stalled for the foreseeable future. But that won't stop real estate development fiends from fantasizing about the day Jemal's unique redevelopment vision for this historic NOMA property are finally realized. On Tuesday that day seemed pretty far away, as the BZA granted Jemal and his development team a two year extension of their plan approval and setback and parking variance relief approvals. In 2008, both the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) and Zoning approved the preliminary plans of Douglas Development, in partnership with the Wilkes Company, to
transform Uline Arena into a state of the art mixed-use complex featuring 290,000 square feet of commercial office space, 75,000 s.f. of ground-floor retail, and 225 residential units.

Bounded to the north by M Street NE, and situated on the northern half of the block between 2nd and 3rd Streets NE, the Uline Arena, also known as the Washington Coliseum, is best known as the first concert venue in the United States to host the Beatles. Over the years it featured sports teams like the Washington Lions (American Hockey League) and the Washington Capitals (American Basketball Association), as well as famous musical acts like Bob Dylan and the Temptations. Most recently the facility was used as a trash transfer station by Waste Management Inc. Originally constructed in 1941, HPRB placed the building on its National Register of Historic Places in 2006, preventing any future demolition plans.
GTM Architects have penned the design plans that see the historic coliseum restored, renovated, and expanded. Designers are excited about the historic preservation aspect of this project, describing the structure and its thin shell concrete vaulted roof as one the earliest examples of "structural innovations in modern industrial design in the United States." As part of the renovation, existing masonry facades will be improved and restored. A 2-story addition of glass and steel will be constructed above the Ice House, highlighting the industrial character of the structure.
A spacious, multi-level atrium will be constructed inside the domed Arena. Decisions on who or what will occupy the retail space are up in the air: big box retail, an entertainment center, a mix of small and local restaurants and cafes, it all remains on the table, according to developers. The streetscape will be improved with planters and transitioned into a new landscaped entry plaza at the northeast corner of the block. Developers intend on extensively incorporating sustainable design strategies so to warrant LEED certification upon completion.

Executive Paul Millstein of Douglas Develpoment says of the hold up: "We have a really cool design to bring this property back to life, but right now we're still searching for the construction money." It's a tough market for anyone to secure financing in, but especially so for a development team used to doing spec projects. With times still uncertain, no one is willing to finance
developments without prelease agreements, says Millstein. "Trust me," he explains, "this is not the place we hoped to be; we thought we'd be done by now." But he assures skeptics that they are remaining flexible on the future of the office and retail space, and "are plowing ahead, more bull-headed in our efforts than with any other property."

But Douglas Development promises not to sacrifice quality for speed. At the initial approval hearing he told the BZA that the building was going to have "cool tenants." "They're going to be innovative. They're going to be environmentally correct. They're going to be public transportation oriented. They're going to be neighborhood friendly," he elaborated. But what and who are these "cool tenants"? Greenpeace, who currently resides in another of Jemal's buildings, was initially mentioned as a possible tenant, but have decided to remain in their current location. And that's really too bad, because what's cooler than Greenpeace? Well, except for Paul McCartney playing a gig at the groundbreaking ceremony, just a thought. Hurry up Jemal, while he can still sing.

Washington D.C. Real Estate Development News

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

That seems like an awesome plan. I cannot wait to see it come to life.

Anonymous said...

back in 2003, i was having brunch at the short lived Ellas Coffeeshop on North Capitol. the waiter was complaining about jamal and there was some petition he was trying to get everyone to sign. i don't remember what it was, but i remember the waiter saying that nothing would happen to uline for 15 years.

sounding pretty accurate.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Jemal... Too bad these variances don't require a clean hands statement.. you know the kind that says you pay your taxes:

As of 9/26/10 the two lots associated with 1140 3RD ST NE owe:
SSL:0748 0802 $180,450.81
SSL:0748 0011 $159,465.94

He last paid taxes on both those properties in 2008.

Snarky said...

Who would have known that the Ellas waiter would be become a billionaire by now?

Andrew Wodzianski said...

I just bought a rowhouse across the street. Had this development begun on schedule, there is no way I could have afforded the property. Here's hoping my equity is on the 'up and up' in five years!

Anonymous said...

@ andrew w

who gives a shit about your equity?

Anonymous said...

uh.. he does. and every property owner around there.

B on Oct 4, 2010, 2:46:00 PM said...

The 20-foot gaping hole in the side of the icehouse was finally filled in with cinderblocks a couple of weeks ago. AND they replaced the chain-link fence with... another, slightly less rusty chain link fence. Given Jemal's reputation, even that was more than I expected.

Anonymous said...

@B - How did those big holes get there in the first place? They almost looked like the building was hit by a wrecking ball. Or a car. Or a looney tunes episode...

not on parker said...

How did those big holes get there in the first place? They almost looked like the building was hit by a wrecking ball. Or a car. Or a looney tunes episode.

The ice house was last a trash transfer station...

not on paker said...

"We have a really cool design to bring this property back to life, but right now we're still searching for the construction money..."

Oh please. Dreyfuss fed the District the same bullshit sandwich with regard to the Capitol Place project on H Street NE. And the District swallowed every ounce of it, crust and all.

If financing really is so hard to secure, then this city is stupid to hand out PUDs to developers that are not financially stable.

Anonymous said...

You sir are a complete idiot!

Rayful Edmond said...

not on parker, head toward Georgetown and jump off the Key Bridge.

You have no idea what you're talking about.

Securing construction and perm financing is near impossible right now. Only option would be to do all multifamily and grapple for a d(4).

Anonymous said...

Securing construction and perm financing is near impossible right now. Only option would be to do all multifamily and grapple for a d(4).

Unless of course you are flush with cash, which is the case with Dreyfus. I am certain they could approach an institutional lender with sizeable collateral and get what they need.

Mark on May 19, 2011, 10:23:00 AM said...

It would be much cooler if it were turned back into a performing arts center and/or ice rink. A mixed use office/retail/residential is so uninspired.

 

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