"Our neighborhood is no longer emerging," said Michael Stephens, Executive Director of the the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District. "It has blossomed." Stephens cites 35,000 people who commute to work in the area every day and the rising number of residents to buttress the growing retail imprint just north of the Anacostia River.
Retail, restaurants and office space leases are filling in at a more rapid rate than counterpoint emerging neighborhood NoMa, where the snap-up of square footage has been dominated by office leases. Sexier retail - even indie tenants such as as Pound Coffee have defected to Capitol Hill, while Capitol Waterfront is a hot commodity for retailers.
It helps that temporary projects draw the young and artsy to the water - Trapeze School Washington, Sensorium Dining and Art at the Yards generate buzz. Then there's the developing Canal Park that's scheduled to open in May 2012, Yards Park which opened last year, and Diamond Teague Park that was completed in 2009. In the meantime, enter the bridge to connect the two parks. And of course there's the ball park.
Many completed office buildings have lassoed tenants. Monument Realty's 55 M Street S.E. is 86% leased, with tenants such as the FAA and DDOT. Several D.C. government offices plan to move to the neighborhood in the second quarter, and this month Booz Allen Hamilton moved into 20 M Street, bumping the building to 97% leased. And 1015 Half Street, the former Opus East LLC and Prudential Real Estate Investors partnership that was resuscitated by Skanska this past May, is slated to open in July.
Both Lumber Shed at The Yards Park Pavilion and The Yards Boilermaker Shops are among the most anticipated retail projects. Both buildings - the Lumber Shed at 100 Water Street and Boilermaker Shops at 200 Tingey Street - are part of the National Register of Historic Places, with Forest City Washington as developer and Gensler sheperding construction and design. Among other tenants, Neighborhood Restaurant Group has signed a lease for a restaurant that's expected to become a brewpub. According to Ramsey Meiser, Senior Vice President of Development at Forest City, 50% of the Lumber Shed and 70% of the Boilermaker Shops leases are tied down. Estimated opening date is early 2013.
Over at 400 Tingey Street S.E., Michael Stevens confirms that "a major health club" is signing a lease for 30,000 s.f. of this Forest City cite; sources tell DCMud that said major health club is VIDA Fitness, and that the lease is a done deal.
Also destined for the block at 401 M Street is a 50,000 s.f. Harris Teeter, above which will rise two residential towers with 220 units, with 20% affordable housing, also by Forest City. Environmental remediation will continue through the year with construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2012.
The big news as far as grocery stores in the area has been the potential for a Whole Foods at 800 New Jersey Avenue, S.E., however, the developer William C. Smith + Co. and the grocer are looking for tax abatement to the tune of $8 million over ten years. The groups have apparently been discussing a store for the site since 2002. With a city handing out tax breaks to far less game-changing endeavors - but now strapped for funds - the plan is still given better than even odds.
Among residential options, of Capitol Quarter's EYA development of 113 homes, phase I has sold out, and the 130 homes of Phase II are on the market now, with a move-in date of June 1. Construction had started in 2008, with Phase I construction completed in May of last year.
Other apartments include the off-then-on Foundry Lofts project at 201 Tingey Street S.E. which will offer 10,000 s.f. of retail and 170 market rate units. Forest City was able to resume building in September of 2010 as a result of President Obama's New Issue Bond Program (NIBP) that allowed for the D.C. Housing and Finance Agency (DCHFA) to fund the project and kick it forward. Leasing will begin this summer, with move-in likely in October.
In a holding pattern are several other projects awaiting financing. They include Factory 202, the SK&I-designed building that had been home to Federal Protective Services which was to have become a condo building. Forest City is still entertaining other plans for the site, but as of now it is considered a building for a later phase of development.
Though Monument Realty's 55 M Street is filling up, there is no start date for the hotel or residential buildings at Half Street since funding has not been secured since Lehman Brothers' exit. The grand plans for this property tanked with the fall of the economy, leaving a crater sized hole in 2008.
Akridge's Half Street mixed use office, residential and retail tower is also on hold, as developers are in the process of securing an office tenant. "We've just picked things up again in regard to design," said Kathy McDaniel, Project Administrator for Akridge. "Three months from now, we will have more progress to report."
Still on the boards is the CSX plan to widen its rail lines that run under Virginia Avenue, which is not marketed as loudly, partly because it will be some time before the location will be affected. A $98 million TIGER grant will raise the clearance in 38 locations in three states; 23 more need to be funded and amended before the bigger clearance allows for taller trains. The Virginia Avenue tunnel is among the largest and the most expensive pieces of the project.
Washington, D.C. real estate development news