Tuesday, July 05, 2011

No Mo' for East NoMa This Year?


Charles "Sandy" Wilkes founded The Wilkes Company over three decades ago and began investing in the NoMa - North of Massachusetts Ave - neighborhood shortly thereafter, acquiring property as early as 1985, when Reagan was in office, Mandela wasn't free, and Back to the Future was the highest grossing film in the U.S.

That investment may soon pay dividends, as Wilkes plots a course to finally develop the block of property at 3rd and M Streets, NE, in Noma's long underdeveloped eastern branch. While signs of construction have been evident at the site for several months, Wilkes is holding back on development until the moment is right.

That moment may well depend on Douglas Development and its development of Uline Arena; restoration of the historic 60-year-old Uline/Washington Coliseum, according to Douglas, depends on finding a marquee tenant, which they are actively seeking.

Despite other neighborhood projects in the Northeast area rolling forward - Valor Development's 49-unit condo at 3rd and L, slated to begin in spring of 2012; the AvalonBay's 215-unit apartment project at 3rd and I; and Guy Steuart's Giant project at 3rd and H - Wilkes seems to be keeping an eye on what may be the city's most unique entertainment venue just across the street.

In addition to the combined Uline and Ice House project by Douglas and 300 M St NE, there are two other substantial planned projects on the boards for East NoMa proper: Union Place II, a 500-unit apartment with 30,000 s.f. of retail by The Cohen Companies, now in the design phase and looking to break ground in first quarter 2012, according to TCC's executive vice president, Eric Siegel; and the long-way-off Burnham Place project, a massive, billion-dollar build by Akridge.

Link300 M Street has long been idle and is being used for parking in the interim; the reason for the long wait time, according to Wilkes, is that he is "taking the time to determine the right mix of uses [at the site] and determine the right timing."

The market is a big factor, specifically the uncertainty of the market for office space in the immediate area, and the unknown effect of substantial commercial density being added to west NoMa.

Wilkes is familiar with the market, as well as the ongoing changes in NoMa: along with being an owner of substantial property for over 25 years, he invested in the construction of the New York Avenue Metro stop, and serves as vice chairman of the NoMa BID (a map with the boundaries of NoMa is found below).

Although the specifics may change given Wilkes' earlier statement, an original design for 300 M, conceptualized by D.C.-and-New York-based Beyer Blinder Belle , incorporated retail, loft-style residences, and office space catering to a large organization: a non-profit HQ, government agency or trade association.

One thing is clear about the future use of the site,"It will require zoning relief," explains Wilkes. The Ward 6 location is zoned C-M-1, low bulk commercial and light manufacturing uses, with a maximum height of 3 stories or 40'. Wilkes asserts that the zoning process will take some time, and that ground breaking at the site is not imminent.

Wilkes also claims that east NoMa will eventually develop as more of a nod to New York's SoHo and Tribeca than anywhere else in D.C., and "patience" is the name of the game, but patience is wearing thin for some.

For now, it seems Wilkes' project will sit on the sideline for the rest of the year, as west NoMa continues to witness the highest concentration of construction in Washington D.C.

With over $3 billion of private investment shuttled into the whole of NoMa since 2005, 15.7 million s.f. of the neighborhood has been developed, and with 16.8 million more square feet to go, more patience may be a necessary asset.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Douglas should consider tearing down the Uline arena and starting from scratch. What is it about this ugly squat building that calls forth for preservation?

Besides the fact that the Beatles played there once when they first came to the U.S., is there anything else historic about the place? Is the architecture of any significance? If the Uline ultimately ends up being redeveloped, it's a near certainty that it won't be as an entertainment venue, or anything close to what it once was. That in itself depreciates to a meaningful extent anything historic having with the structure's past. So were left with the bones, and are they really worth saving?

If perchance you're reading this Jemal, let me extend a hearty "Thank you!" for your numerous high quality projects throughout the District, many of which have involved extensive historic preservation. But saving the Uline? Oh my, what a dog. I can't visualize what you might be seeing in it. And I'm trying. Please bring in the wrecking ball, and pretty please, reduce that fugly thing to dust.

Paul said...

I'm getting a little tired of hearing the Beatles played at Uline Arena. It was charming the first time or two but...

That said, Anonymous simply has no imagination if he/she can't visualize how the arena could be integrated into an outstanding new building. Perhaps they are too hung up on it's lack of windows. But historic preservation doesn't mean they have to keep the structure exactly as it is now and build a pop up. There are alot of creative things that can be done with the Arena as a base.

Anonymous said...

I would say that architecturally, yes, the Uline Arena is significant.

Anonymous said...

^^^

How so?

Le poo was allowed Internet 2day said...

Are you people stupid? Wikipedia the arena, and then click on the references. WTF do you people do for a living? Obviously not real estate or architecture. I'm embarrassed for all of you. Tsk, tsk....

metemph on Jul 5, 2011, 4:50:00 PM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Layman on Jul 5, 2011, 5:19:00 PM said...

WRT the point about the use of the Uline, for years 9:30 Club (IMP) has been after Douglas Development to sell/lease them the building, so that they could redevelop it into a music facility, but DD doesn't give IMP the time of day.

Sounds like a good DCMUD story if you ask me.

WRT the point about architectural significance, rather than just spouting off, why not read the landmark nomination and educate yourself?

Anonymous said...

Can anyone name a single Douglas Property that's broken ground in Noma? Uline is listed as a future project and his parking lot wasteland at NY Ave and N.Cap isn't even on the road map.

The district should at least take back and re-open the unit block of O st to help alleviate some traffic issues caused by the Dave Thomas Circle.

Anonymous said...

the people's building was a jamal project.
there's a lot of history there and maybe jamal felt like he was the idiot that jumped the gun on noma so decided to wait till everyone else was done.

Anonymous said...

The people's building was only developed after a shady deal with the city. Jemal's not developing because there's no handout to do so.

http://www.dcwatch.com/govern/opm030609.htm

Kelly Matlock on Jul 7, 2011, 10:20:00 AM said...

Richard,

I'm interested in your teaser about the 9:30 Club and Douglas.

Can you contact me (kelly@dcmud.com) with more information?

Thanks, Kelly

Anonymous said...

Focus on, "It will require zoning relief." With no immediate plans to develop the site, what's newsworthy about this story? I'm certain that Wilkes is trying to prepare for a rezoning proposal by building a little community excitement through a story about, "all the great potential of the site."

By the way, this is coming from someone who lives within a block of the property - and who really wants to see something happen there.

However, high density development on the east side of the track shouldn't fly.

andrew said...

The Uline Arena is one of the few remaining structures built with a thin-shell concrete roof (formally known as the Zeiss Dywidag process).

Although we take buildings like it for granted today, the arena was *HUGE* by 1940 standards, considering that it has no interior support columns.

So, yeah. It's got a bit of technical architectural significance. I'll gladly agree though, that it's not currently very pretty to look at.

 

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