Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Labels: Alexandria, Duke Realty, Hekemian, Home Properties, JBG Companies
CEO of First Potomac gives outlook on DC's commercial market (Globe St.) Doug Donatelli comments on his business and on the future of the industry.
Home prices decline to new low (Wall Street Journal) Home prices declined 4% in 2011, part of which occurred last quarter, leading to new lows for the national market.
District office vacancies expected to grow (Washington Post) Office vacancy remains around 10.6%, but uncertainty around federal leasing is expected to depress the office rental market.
Commercial vacancy rates improving, rents firming (Realestaterama) All real estate sectors are seeing improvements, but multi-family rental housing is leading the way.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Labels: Federal Realty, North Bethesda, White Flint, Wisconsin Avenue
The Montgomery County Planning Board gave initial approval last week to the preliminary site plans for Pike & Rose, the replacement for Mid-Pike Plaza, an ambitious vision that would dramatically transform a 24-acre parcel in White Flint, at the intersection of Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road.
North Bethesda real estate development news
Architectural billing index is up, construction expanding (Costar) The index of architectural work, up for the third straight month, points toward a slow recovery and future construction.
Changes to Cyrstal City skyline on the way (ArlNow) Vornado's plan for new development would create the largest office building in Arlington.
Greening DC's zoning code (Better Cities & Towns) New proposals for the zoning code mean less cars, green spaces, and adding zoning exceptions to squeeze greater use out of commercially restricted buildings.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Located in a Victorian red-brick townhome, this very fine vertically-arranged living space will get you one step closer to everyone's childhood dream of living in a lighthouse. Put in a fireman's pole and I promise I'll drop by unannounced at least four times a week. (Which is probably the best reason not to put one in.)
You ascend through the place via a beautiful floating stairwell painted sky blue, from the living room up to the kitchen (granite countertops, Kitchen Aid Professional appliances) and then up to the two bedrooms and the luxury baths (Travertine tile, etc.). Four levels in all. I'm a huuuuuge fan of this place - a friend of mine lives in a vertical-type place and there's something really novel and appealing about the setup. Not to mention the peripheral fitness benefits of the stairs; if you really want to beat the obesity epidemic, all you have to do is mandate that all new houses have to be built on the Y axis. My hammies were on fire after just a brief open houser – I bet after a month of living here you'd have the lower body of a young Jean-Claude Van Damme.
The place also boasts some beautiful interior design and furnishings - from the pendant lighting to the turquoise bathroom basins – which you could maybe convince your friends and family you picked out yourself, depending on how good a liar you are. In back is a small patio perfect for grilling out or a getting a little sun with your morning coffee, and the unit also comes with assigned parking. I once lived in a place where I had an assigned parking space, but I didn't have a car, so I rented it on Craigslist. The guy who rented it conveniently omitted the fact that he was going to be living in the car he'd be parking there. I felt bad for him so I let him stay for a month, and at night sometimes when he'd shift in his sleep his feet would accidentally hit the brakes, and his brakelights would flash and reflect onto the wall of my bedroom, where I'd be up late reading. If you can come up with a more depressing image than that, I'll give you a hundred dollars. (Not really.)
1328 Maryland Ave NE #4
2 Bedrooms, 2 Baths
Realtors slam Obama foreclosure plan (Wall Street Journal) National association says Obama administration plan to rent out foreclosed homes is ill conceived.
Crane operator gets bird's eye view of DC's development (Washington Post) With views across the region, DC construction boom is easy to see.
Glenment Metro housing project ok'd by county planning board (Gazette) Board votes to approve JBG's plan for 1550 units of housing.
Million $ foreclosures: Rich increasingly walking away from mortgages (CNN Money) 36,000 homes - 2% of all foreclosures - over $1,000,000 were foreclosed on in 2011, a record high.
Rising rental rates may drive up home sales (HousingWire) Mortgage Bankers Association says rising price of apartments could improve housing market as soon as this spring.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Trammell Crow gets financing for another NoMa office building (Globe St.) Sentinel Square II, a 270,000 s.f. office building, will be LEED Gold and meet stringent security standards.
The real reason to buy your own home (CNN Money) Hint: ever want to date again? Move out on your roommates and get your own place, that you own.
New York's BGC Partners lays out plans to buy bankrupt Grubb & Ellis (Business Journal) The purchase could have implications in the D.C. market as the 6th-ranked office rep gets snapped up.
Existing home sales rose in January, inventory down (Marketwire) The numbers are better than December and beat January of 2011.
A 5th Avenue experience for DC's 12th Street? (Globe St) With ESPN zone gone, planners envision multiple tenants in the large space to create a different shopping experience.
A new design for Fannie and Freddie (Washington Post) The mortgage giants should be weaned off life support and abandoned as an economic stimulus component.
Peterson Companies buys into Bethesda's Rock Spring (Washington Post) The developer of National Harbor gives injection to struggling mixed-use project.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
By Beth Herman
It was the year flailing New York crowds first welcomed The Beatles to "The Ed Sullivan Show." And though its own brand of fanfare was less about screams and more about shoji screens, a traditional 1960s 416-unit high-rise in Rockville, Md., with a decidedly Asian interior, went up to public acclaim at about the same time.
Renovated only once since then, in the 1980s, the quietly dignified Grosvenor Park III, 10401 Grosvenor Place, cautiously courted a more modern facelift, its loyal residents desiring to preserve as much of the building’s Far East legacy as possible. Manifested in such elements as jade-colored marble base molding, Japanese shoji screens, finely etched glass panels—a gift from Chinese General Chiang Kai-Shek—mounted in floor-to-ceiling teak, and both Chinese and Japanese artwork, time had nevertheless eroded and faded fabrics, furnishings and flooring. Glass panels had essentially become jaundiced with age. With the décor a mix of Chinese and Japanese, where the former is traditionally ornate and the latter very clean and spare, bringing the building’s 3,000-s.f. main lobby, elevator lobby, mail room, and reception and entry areas into the 21st Century without sacrificing their heritage was a feat not easily undertaken.
“It didn’t look terrible, but there were elements that included (outdated) draperies all over the windows, and a terrazzo floor had cracked,” said owner/ principal JoAnn Zwally of Ashton Design Group, responsible for the redesign. “The reception counter was very old and had not even been changed in the last renovation. It was just not functional—dark wood and a design that really needed to be updated.”
The best of East and West
Embracing Shanghai and the luxe Peace Hotel (now the Fairmont Peace Hotel), to which she’d traveled, Zwally recalled singular Chinese art deco elements, including mosaics, deciding to base Grosvenor Park III’s redesign on the same. Working in tandem with building resident and design team head Alice Scherr, Zwally set about transforming the vast, dated lobby spaces and corridors of all 17 floors into modern quarters, the older incarnation’s blue and green hues manifested in a more contemporary and vibrant teal.
Culling obsolete wires and dormant cables from the reception area, and eliminating cluttered and confusing signage (only one sign currently exists), the designer replaced older materials with teak panels in an effort to mirror the treasured teak on the other side. “Today’s teak is not what it was the 1960s,” she said, “but we matched it as closely as we could.” The addition of a sleek, bi-level black granite and glass countertop with aluminum stanchions provides for staff privacy with a nod to modernity. A new soffit contains the lighting, and a newly-created wall conceals security monitoring equipment.
In the lobby, a Murano glass chandelier illuminates a curvilinear table, made from Bubinga—an exotic wood found largely around equatorial Africa—something Zwally designed herself from an antique she saw online. Art deco-style furnishings, including durable round-arm chairs by David Edwards, continue the theme, and computerized shades manipulate light and heat for energy conservation.
In a modern take on bread crumbs, Zwally integrated two large four-foot black diamond inserts and a few smaller ones into the floor of an elongated passageway, ushering residents to the elevator, and redolent of the rich black hue in the lobby space’s Chinese art deco rug. Dark-toned antique Asian doors at the end visually foreshorten the long trek.
Upstairs, Zwally swathed 17 floors in carpeting with a horizontal design strategy. Created to help proportionalize corridors 200 feet long but only five feet wide, “interlocking ovoids in different scales were used,” the designer said, larger in the more rectangular spaces where one exits the elevator and smaller where the hallways narrow. “We hand-measured every doorway because there were places where things were not exactly the same,” Zwally explained of the process, adding the carpet had to break strategically in between.
Shoji screens on every floor with a quiet, organic quality were obtained when the structure was built, though painted green in the prior renovation. This was something the Japanese culture would never do, according to Zwally, though residents were still quite partial to the screens. Accordingly, they were remade to look clean and contemporary, and reflect their natural origins.
With the addition of increased, though energy-efficient lighting fixtures, especially around the elevators, Zwally brightened the building’s public spaces considerably, ensuring residents and guests are able to savor the fruits of the redesign at any time of the day or night.
“Everything in this renovation is very durable,” Zwally said, speaking to the anticipated longevity of a large, public space. Chiang Kai-Shek, who lived nearly 88 years, would undoubtedly approve.
Photos courtesy of Geoffrey Hodgdon
Labels: Guardian Realty, Silver Spring, WDG Architecture
Developers anticipate a heightened demand for housing in the area after Walter Reed merges with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. The site plan amendment, which left the original building's footprint almost entirely unchanged, was approved by Montgomery County planners in April 2011.
Silver Spring real estate development news
TIAA-CREF buys shops at Wisconsin Place (Retail Traffic) New England Development sold the retail portion of the mixed-use development, anchored by Whole Foods, for $113m.
Fannie Mae says housing to boost housing to boost GDP for first time in 7 years (HousingWire) Growth seems to be rebounding, and though housing is not expected to be a big contributor, indicators point toward modest improvement.
Commercial real estate giant Grubb & Ellis files for bankruptcy (HousingWire) The California based firm seeks Chapter 11 court protection.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Labels: 14th Street, Eric Colbert, Georgetown Strategic Capital, JBG Companies, U Street
In a heated tent at the end of a long crushed velvet carpet on 14th St. today, JBG, Georgetown Strategic Capital and city officials symbolically (but not literally) broke ground on the long-discussed “Louis at 14th”, a 267-unit, 42,000-square foot mixed-use megadevelopment.
Formerly called "Utopia" and in the works since 2006, entitlements are finally in place and demolition has begun for a dramatic makeover of what developers called “the greatest intersection in the District.” According to today’s press release, the Eric Colbert and Associates-designed building will offer amenities including a rooftop terrace with grilling stations and fire pits, a rooftop pool (with bar), a fitness center, and a 24-hour concierge. Historic facades along U Street will be preserved, though many (but not all) facades along 14th are slated for imminent demolition. Surely developers were buoyed by the high rents and recent high sales price of the Ellington apartments almost across the street.
If the prestige of a project is in direct proportion to the swank factor of its groundbreaking ceremony, the Louis should be very swank indeed. Aside from the aforementioned velvet carpet (and ropes), there was an open bar (so forgive any typos), as well as a solo saxophonist providing ubersmooth accompaniment as various development titans rubbed elbows with Councilmembers Michael Brown and Jim Graham, as well as Mayor Vincent Gray. When it was time to unveil the new renderings, a male model done up as Louis the XIV (get it?), complete with powdered wig, hose, and lace waistcoat, entered stage left.
But although the ceremony was long on flash, it was short on specifics. Mayor Gray made a vague, campaign-trail-ish speech, made frequent reference to his local roots, and arched his eyebrows a lot, Councilman Brown did his Obama thing (in fairness, he does a great Obama), made even more frequent reference to his local roots, and called for a comical number of rounds of applause (this blogger might have been the only person in attendance who did not, at some point, get applauded), and Councilman Graham regaled the crowd with reminiscences from his days at Whitman-Walker, and how volunteers used to refuse to set foot on the mean streets of 14th and S Streets.
Labels: AvalonBay, H Street Corridor, KTGY Group, Steuart Investment Company
AVA H Street broke ground back in November, and is just one of a dizzying number of projects in the immediate area, the biggest of which is the Steuart Investments mixed-use behemoth. It's hard to believe, when you see the flurry of construction on H Street today, that just a handful of years ago over twenty percent of H Street storefronts were vacant - a rate that has been reduced nearly to zero in less than a decade. And when the long-discussed streetcar is up and running, the boom will kick into another, even higher, gear.
Foreclosures: How to tell what's really going on in the foreclosure market (Wall Street Journal) With different numbers and predictions being issued simultaneously, the confusion is over the point in time that is being analyzed.
Multi-family construction in DC, New York not like the overbuilding surge of last decade (Globe St.) Those panicked by overbuilding are looking carefully about what's happening in the supply of housing.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Labels: 14th Street, Eric Colbert, Georgetown Strategic Capital, JBG Companies, U Street
Aside from all that, the house boasts fine hardwood floors, exposed brick, recessed lighting, and large, beautiful bedrooms. Located on a serene Capitol Hill block that was so outrageously picturesque on the day I visited, with loads of mature trees in front of the pristine houses, that it was downright ridiculous. I was about to point and laugh contemptuously at this little panorama but there was an attractive woman right there, walking her dog, so instead I just sucked in my cheeks and squinted off into the distance. I'm pretty sure she was impressed.
4 Bedrooms, 3.5 Baths
Foreclosures abuse rampant across U.S. (Reuters) Consumer groups see "illegal" foreclosure processes across the country.
Home prices fall, but inventory levels improve (Housingwire) Although the average price of a home fell $3,000, the national inventory of single-family homes and multi-family units dropped by 23.2% in January over last January.
A push for restaurants east of the Anacostia (Washington Post) A dearth of sit-down restaurants east of the river leads locals and neighborhood groups pushing for more. Restaurant operators are wary.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
The new $100-million think-tank headquarters, which was to break ground in September 2011, was delayed several times as HITT Contracting, the general contractor worked out key technical issues for the building's underground levels, Ryan Sickles, a CSIS spokesman, said.