Rock Spring Centre, a 53.4-acre tract of land within the North Bethesda Garrett Park area and sandwiched between the two legs of I-270, has been partially built, stalled, transferred, and reworked in the decade-plus since the development was conceptualized, and the land rezoned, from high-rise residential to mixed-use, back in 1997. Of the remaining 30 acres to be developed, Washington D.C. based DRI Development Services says it is moving forward - plans are approved, an architect is on payroll, and leases are being pursued - lacking only an equity partner, said Chris Spitz, president of DRI.
DRI's most recent plans for the site were approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board this past February, but the last step - partnering with an institutional investor or real estate investment trust - is still elusive. DRI will need approximately $375 million to fund the development, said Spitz, adding that, once complete, it will be akin to "a smaller Reston Town Center."
Spitz says that DRI, a wholly owned subsidiary of Transwestern, is looking to start construction in the spring of 2012, with delivery in the first quarter 2014. DRI will lease 210,000 s.f. of retail space and 90,000 s.f. of below-grade entertainment space. Retail is broken up into 53 spaces as follows: 2 anchor tenants, 2 banks, 7 full-service restaurants, 9 quick-service restaurants, and 33 other retailers.
To date there are no retail leases signed, says Bill Miller of Transwestern, despite what Miller says is "strong" ongoing interest in the development from potential tenants. "We're very close to having a theater deal [secured]... and we're talking to a few health clubs for the space below grade."
Of anchor tenant space, Miller said that a deal "is close" for the largest anchor spot, just shy of 30,000 s.f. The rest of the nine building development will consist of 550,000 s.f. of office, 200,000 s.f. of hotel (200 rooms, operator unknown), and161 residential units, 1.2m s.f. in all.
DRI took over development of the site from Penrose in 2008, and is in a long-term lease with land owners Davis Brothers and Camalier LP. DRI has hired Boston-area architects Arrowstreet, which revealed new images of the project last week. Architects say the development will be LEED certified, though not which program, and that the project will have "regionally appropriate landscaping.?
An original three-phase development plan for Rock Spring Centre was approved in 1999. Yet to date, only the first phase, the AvalonBay Apartments, has been built. Since 2004, the site has been dormant, with a second phase - also residential - approved, but never completed. The third, and final, phase has been reworked, from an upscale "urban village" known as Canyon Ranch, scratched in 2006, to the development as it now looks.
DRI also has long gestating plans to develop the 1800 block of Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, a full-block office project near the ballpark, and had planned to develop the prominent Gallery Square, the corner parcel at 675 H Street, since been purchased by McCaffery Interests Inc. and Douglas Development.
Bethesda, Maryland real estate development news