Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Douglas to Seek Second Extension for Uline Arena Redevelopment



With their two year extension on the Uline Arena entitlements running out in mere days, Douglas Development has made a decision - they're sticking with the oft-delayed, complicated project.
"No way are we walking away from this," says Paul Millstein of Douglas Development.  "We're going for an extension as a commercial mixed-use development.  We're still working very aggressively with prospective users.  Thing is, we've got Central Armature right across on the other corner, and it's ugly.  That doesn't help.  And the other corner, catty corner across, isn't developed at all, that doesn't help either.  But we love the site, we believe in it.  We committed early, before they did the grocery store site and the residential. We've put a ton of time into meetings, architecture, planning."


Since purchasing the property in 2004, there has been much speculation, but little certainty, about what Douglas has planned for the historic space.  The space had been used as a trash transfer station, and is now an indoor parking lot - a long way from its auspicious past as a venue that once featured the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Temptations.  (Though not all on the same night.)

Part of the problem is that while the space is on the National Register of Historic Places, meaning it can't be demolished as part of any redevelopment, it's not, well, very good at its intended purpose.  When a local arts group put on a drama performance at Uline in early 2011, reviewers noted the poor acoustics of the space, a complaint that some local historians claim has echoed (see what I did there?) through the ages, right from Uline's opening.  Still, the poor acoustics could be remedied, at least in part, by a redevelopment, preserving Uline as an arts performance space - a prospect that is still very much on the table, according to Millstein.

"We're still looking at an entertainment component on the ground floor," Millstein says.  "Something, for example, like the Fillmore in Silver Spring, or maybe an even larger venue.  Retail use could also do extremely well."


The HPRB approved Douglas' preliminary plan in 2008, a GTM Architects-designed concept that keeps the familiar Uline facade intact and preserves the cavernous interior as a multi-level atrium, into which extensive skylights would admit natural light, giving the shell the illusion of transparency.  Those plans - which remain very much in flux - would incorporate 290,000 s.f. of commercial office space, 75,000 s.f. of ground floor retail space, and up to 225 residences.  That design received one two-year extension already, in September 2010, which brings us to the present day.  That extension expires next month, though Douglas has every intention of applying for another.

So what's the next step?

"The next step is to file a request for extension, and get those entitlements extended," says Millstein.  "There will be a hearing, but I think we'll be successful in our extension.  The last couple - three years, nothing much has happened in the area, though now there's a lot of residential stuff popping up, even some office.  But the area's still got quite a ways to go.  I would hope that in the next cycle, the next 24 months, Uline will really take off, and I think it will.  I think our time has come."

Washington D.C. real estate development news

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

"The last couple - three years, nothing much has happened in the area, though now there's a lot of residential stuff popping up, even some office. But the area's still got quite a ways to go."

They should be the change they want to see in the neighborhood...

Anonymous said...

"Thing is, we've got Central Armature right across on the other corner, and it's ugly."

That's no way to speak about your neighbors.

This guy sounds like a jacka**

Anonymous said...

They haven't been the best neighbors either. The homeless have started setting up camps around the building and leaving the area littered in trash each morning. If Douglas would get off their ass and move forward, they would help the neighborhood tremendously. Instead, they sit on this dilapidated structure and throw up (ugly) advertising on the side.

DrewCourt said...

To his credit, Central Armature is pretty ugly, but they could do a much better job at keeping up their side of the street.

Also, I'm not sure how this works, but I'd hate to think that they're just holding onto this property for as long as possible, waiting for property values to go up.

Campy on Aug 28, 2012, 1:21:00 PM said...

Sure you can have a 2 year extension if you take all your advertising off the property and fix the water damage on the west side that is destroying the historic facade.

Anonymous said...

I live in the area and I've never had the sense that Central Armature is a bad neighbor. Sure, it's an ugly building but it's a lot better maintained than Uline which is littered with graffiti and trash.

I also find laughable Millstein's contention that nothing much has happened in the area in the last couple years. About a dozen buildings have popped up in including constitution Square. Washington Gateway is breaking ground this month, and Union Market is opening next month.

Douglas has decided to be a follower in NoMa. They just don't want to come out and say it.

Don't know if this is a possibility or not, but I'd love to see Living Social consolidate their operations at Uline.

Anonymous said...

They should make it into a great big gay dance club with lots of mirrors and smoke machines and go-go boys and a great big loud sound system that you can hear for blocks.

Tony Goodman, ANC 6C04 on Aug 29, 2012, 12:08:00 AM said...

The current approval for which they are seeking an extension is NOT for the major mixed-use project with residential described above. It is for a much more modest renovation into an office building. The current zoning actually does not allow residential.

Two years ago, the ANC requested that Douglas Development perform certain maintenance actions as a condition of support for their last extension. This included the bollards & planters along M to prevent parking on the sidewalk, and filling in the giant holes in the side of the Ice House along 3rd Street.

The ideas above for requesting removal of the signs along the West side and repair of the leak onto the sidewalk make a lot of sense, and I will suggest those to the developer and my fellow Commissioners.

Anonymous said...

How about this property get classified properly as vacant and he pays 5% until he decided to sell or develop.

NoMaRes said...

What's wrong with ads on the building? Seems an appropriate building and neighborhood (both industrial) for that kind of advertisement. And no, not much development has taken place around it. Sure, on the other side of the railroad tracks there has been huge development, but the railroad tracks are the proverbial barrier for a reason. This area will develop soon, but its not quite there yet.

Anonymous said...

1) The ads are not legal along the West side. They have already been fined for them, but the fine $ < revenue $.

2) The "reason" for the tracks seeming to be a barrier is that Douglas isn't doing anything with their property. 300 L, 250 K, Avalon Bay, Union Market and other developments on the East side of the tracks are doing fine.

Anonymous said...

"The last couple - three years, nothing much has happened in the area, though now there's a lot of residential stuff popping up, even some office."

Except for all of that development, there really hasn't been much development? Is there any part of the city with more new buildings than NOMA? What does this guy expect?

Anonymous said...

To Douglas Development: Ignore all the previous blather except for the part about a big gay dance club. There is immense pent-up demand, and gay clubs keep things clean and will pay a lot of rent.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tony! I agree with most of you. I Hope they improve their maintenance of the property.

Additionally, I think with all that is currently going up, I think by the time they finish.... two years, the area will be ready. It's ridiculous for them to expect it to be 100% ready because not everyone can be the last building to be done empty.

Anonymous said...

He's like the developers on north capital trying to wait until the market is fully turned. Fact is he had an agreement and he's already gotten a 2 year.

I say we deny it. Either they start up construction or it's given to somebody who does. It's the north cap firehouse debacle just to the east

Anonymous said...

Deny it. We don't want followers inn our neighborhood we want leaders. the fact that Milstein hasn't seen any development says to me he is either blind, and idiot or BOTH. I agree 5% tax until you put it in gear or get the hell out and let someone with guts and vision take over. Douglas Devo..you are freakin PATHETIC!

Anonymous said...

Now you're talking!

K said...

So many smart would-be-developers here! I hope you all go into development, you know so much about it. Or not. Walk over to the Uline Arena and tell me tenants are banging on their door, ready to lease the building. That's what a developer has to believe to put money into the project. Yes, there is development around the corner, but tenants don't look to be in the vicinity of a good site, they want to be on a good site.

IMGoph on Aug 31, 2012, 10:43:00 PM said...

The Douglas people do a good job of playing shuck and jive when it comes to stuff like this.

Those ads on the side of the building were ruled illegal, but Douglas sicced their attorneys on the city, and never payed the fines. It's tied up in the bureaucracy, and a ruling on their counter-complaint may never come, because there has been no pressure on them to comply.

And the part about the water damage on the west side of the building is definitely worth bringing up, but they aren't going to spend a dime more than they need to unless you put a gun to their head and chamber a bullet. "Citizen of the year" knows he has the government by the short hairs...

 

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