Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Archstone's "First + M" Apartments Doubles NoMa Housing Stock




Walk by Archstone's First + M apartments in NoMa at night, and you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re done and ready for move-in. While the building is still surrounded by some scaffolding and a few traffic barriers, the sleek mixed-use complex, with its distinctive wavy concrete panels and vaguely fortress-like glass towers, looks very much like a present ready to be unwrapped. “Construction is on or slightly ahead of schedule,” says Peter Jakel, Communications Director at Archstone. "We're currently on schedule for preleasing in March, for first move-ins in May."

Next up? An adjacent 435-unit building, tentatively titled “First + M II,” at 35 M Street NE.

First + M (the first), which was designed by Davis Carter Scott and broke ground in June of 2010, features 469 units – 192 one bedrooms, 206 two bedrooms, and 71 three bedrooms – as well as 2500 square feet of ground floor retail. The finished building will also offer tenants a long list of amenities, including a communal chef's kitchen that opens onto an outdoor dining area, a 5000-square-foot 24-hour gym, a massive green courtyard, a “Rooftop Resort” that features a heated lap pool and sun deck, an internet cafe, a theater, two soundproof music studios, a bike workshop, and, yes – a pet spa. This list, along with the overall dearth of housing in NoMa – the 496 units in First + M will boost NoMa's housing stock by a full 50% - should ensure the project's rapid success.

This is just the latest development in NoMa's swift rise from federal office hinterland to arguably the District's buzziest real estate hotspot. Even today, walking north from Union Station or east from Shaw and into the heart of NoMa is a bit like stumbling across a stand of sunflowers in the middle of a desert. Wasn't this a parking lot just last month?

According to the NoMa BID, the neighborhood's resident population is expected to double in the next two to three years, and projects in the planning stages – a total of 9 million square feet of office space, 860,000 square feet of retail space, and another 6500 residential units - will more than double NoMa's available square footage.

Doug Carter, founding principal at Davis Carter Scott, has been
quoted in these pages as saying he wanted the First + M building to be “a little more forward looking,” and it is. Emphasis on “a little.” Standing at the intersection of First and M Streets, one might experience a temporary wave of vertigo, so identical are the recently-completed buildings and the almost-completed First + M project. Conventional mixed-use structures – ground-floor retail, underground parking, residential units up top – are no doubt efficient, and good for the community, but NoMa might be approaching the “too much of a good thing” saturation point. The blossoming of NoMa is a very good thing for the District, and a checkerboard neighborhood of monolithic glass towers is, without question, preferable to a desolate expanse of surface parking lots and abandoned warehouses – but then, these aren’t the only two choices, are they? Building a neighborhood essentially from scratch is a rare and precious opportunity. Why recreate Ballston?

4 comments:

Washington apartments on Jan 11, 2012, 8:42:00 AM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Wonder what the units will rent out for. I'm sure it'll be scoff-worthy.

Sivad said...

First street should now be the the standard for all DC sidewalk reconstruction. Its like marsh land in the heart of the city. I love it.

?? on Jan 13, 2012, 3:55:00 PM said...

469 units – 192 one bedrooms, 206 two bedrooms, and 71 three bedrooms?
or
192 Studio, 206 one-bedrooms and 71 two-bedrooms? BIG difference

 

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