Michael Eastwood of Home Properties says the development team has not yet signed an anchor tenant but intends to serve up a final site plan to the county "by June or July." The county approved the preliminary plan last November, and Home has been working on tweaking the design that will develop the North Parcel, turning 182 garden apartments into 1250 new apartments in 4 new buildings along the Metro track and soon to be Purple Line. The new residential towers will rise up to 14 stories along the tracks and 6-8 stories along East-West highway, denser but "more sensitive to the neighboring community."
With financing for the property still not locked down, Home Properties has been seeking a full service grocer to help tether a financing partner, courting Harris Teeter since 2005, but still without an agreement. "We are trying to chase them down" says Eastwood, who notes that his team also has the capability of going it alone in a pinch. "We're a REIT so we could do it on our own and will be building in phases."
The northern boundary faces the Metro tracks and is the "locally preferred alternative" for the Purple Line. The property features a 40 foot right of way that could serve as a light rail pass-through (the site is only one block from the station so there will be no stop incorporated), as well as a bike path right of way. Design of the project is still preliminary, and while Nelson Byrd Woltz has been selected as the landscape architect for the project, actual design has not yet been achieved.
Home Properties acquired the land in 2003 and began planning for a quick turnaround, submitting to the county in 2006. Plans were "cued up and ready to go" says Eastwood, but market fundamentals sabotaged early plans. Locals then began a campaign to declare the property - inaugurated in 1937 by Eleanor Roosevelt when the New Deal was expanding, as now, the size of government and the area's population - as historic, an ultimately successful bid that changed the scope of the plans. With many of the apartments protected, Home Properties then doubled down on the northern section switched the architect from Grimm + Parker to Shalom Baranes, increasing the number of units while connecting them better to the street. "It really took from fall of 2007 to spring of 2009 to get the two south parcels on the charts for historic preservation, and get the north to come off the locational atlas" said Eastwood. The residential towers originally conceived would have encircled a private courtyard, the new design adds a street through the center, with street-oriented buildings. "Its a more urban design than what we had originally."
Eastwood says the projects will "definitely be" rental units. Retail - about 10,000 s.f. in addition to the supermarket - will front East-West, aided by a new traffic signal.