Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Condo to be Alexandria's First Green Building

Condo developers nationally have been on the leading edge of the green movement, and it now appears that Alexandria’s first LEED-certified building will be an Old Town condominium. Alexandria Developer William Cromley is renovating a century-old warehouse at 1210 Queen St. into an 8-unit, "loft" style condominium called Cromley Lofts, featuring a green roof and sustainable, low-emission materials. LEED certification requires a rigorous third-party designation process and contemplates such factors as indoor environment, sustainable materials, access to public transportation, and energy efficiency. Cromley expects that the project, which has not yet been LEED-approved by the U.S. Green Building Council, will receive "certification," the lowest of the four possible rankings available, making this the first Alexandria project to receive such classification when it completes in the Spring, and estimates that the enhanced design will reduce utilities by about 30%. Alexandria's T.C. Williams High School, which has also applied for certification, will not complete until the Fall.

Each of the condos will offer about 1250 square feet of space in what Cromley describes as "true lofts," a departure from much of modern construction despite the prevalence of the term "loft" in marketing. Set in a historic building that was functional until recently as office space and artist studios, the lofts will exhibit "sleeping niches" rather than formal bedrooms, and bamboo cabinets as a sustainable alternative to traditional wood. Prices are expected to range from $500,000 to $700,000 when sales commence this Spring, competing with the Prescott and Monarch, much larger condo projects now underway in the quickly developing neighborhood. Sales and marketing by DCRE.

Washington DC real estate news

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Architect Selected for Metro Plaza Project in Wheaton

The $150 million Metro Plaza complex, a mixed-use project planned to be built on 3 acres at the southwest corner of Georgia Avenue and Reedie Drive next to the Wheaton metro station, now has its architect. Developers Spaulding and Slye Investments and Bozzuto Development Co. have just hired well-know DC architect company Bonstra Haresign (AOL Headquarters, Q14 condos) for this project, which for now will consist of up to 450,000 sf of office and retail space, though the developers are leaving upon the possibility of including residential units depending on the market. Construction on this complex is expected to begin in 2008, with occupancy hopefully starting by the end of 2009.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Bush Signs DC Tax Credit

President Bush has signed a tax bill into law that includes a $5,000 credit for homebuyers in DC. The federal income tax credit, which expired last year, is retroactive for the entire year and extends until the end of 2007. Purchasers who have not owned a home in the District for the prior year are able to use the credit, provided they do not exceed the income caps which begin to phase out at income levels of $70,000 for single filers and $110,000 for married filers. Buyers can claim up to $5,000 if single or married filing jointly, or $2500 if married filing separately.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Redevelopment Finally Coming to Desolate Stretch of Wisconsin Avenue in Cleveland Park

For years, the uninviting block of old stores along Wisconsin Avenue in Cleveland Park (just below McLean Gardens) starting just above Macomb Street and running past Newark Street to Idaho Avenue, NW, has waited patiently for redevelopment while residents in the neighborhood argued over the proper use for the old, abandoned G.C. Murphy Co. store and Soviet Bloc-inspired Giant grocery on the corner. But it appears change is finally coming after all these years, with Giant’s development team proposing to completely build a new 51,000-sf Giant, plus also construct new commercial and residential space along this stretch of Wisconsin Avenue. Eleven new townhouses are envisioned near Idaho Avenue, and a total of 22,000 sf of retail is proposed between Macomb and Newark Streets, plus another 33,000 sf between Newark Street and Idaho Avenue. The development team also plans 34 residential units as well as offices above the Newark-Idaho retail strip. Construction is not expected to start for two years, with completion taking another two years. This proposal is still in its early stages, and will undergo some pretty strenuous public hearings, so changes are certainly in the works. But for now, the future is starting to brighten up for this dark stretch of street.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

What Goes Down Must Come Up

You just can't help but stare - but it's okay. The Rosslyn Best Western (pictured) succumbed to the wrecking ball this week to make way for Turnberry Tower, a luxury highrise condo that is to take its place in Spring 2008. The project, after several fits and starts under other names and other developers, is being developed by Turnberry Ltd. of Florida. The 247-unit condo will be decidedly more upscale from the hotel it replaces, with condominiums beginning in the low $800's (thousands, of course) and topping $6m for its penthouse with more than 5000 s.f. All units will have private terraces; and valet parking and elevator access directly into the unit are some of the options available. BBG-BBGM Architects is designing the building for Turnberry, but the new construction isn't nearly as cool as watching the wrecking ball smash the hotel to bits.

At 26 stories, Turnberry Tower will be one of the tallest buildings in the region, competing in height (and sales) with Waterview by JBG, a new condo going up 2 blocks away that has now topped out at 29 stories. Condo sales for Turnberry began in June 2005.

Bethesda Row Extension Moves Forward

Work is progressing quickly (guess the recent warm spell has been good for gardeners and developers) on the new addition to wildly popular Bethesda Row, the seven-block collection of shops located just off Wisconsin Avenue and south of the Bethesda metro. The new 1.7-acre site extension, which is rising on the former Giant grocery location at the western corner of Bethesda Avenue and Arlington Road, is being built by Federal Realty. The proposed project will include 43,000 sf of new retail and restaurants, and 460 new parking spaces. In addition, there will be 180 “luxury” rental apartments above the shops, in a building dubbed "Upstairs at Bethesda Row," featuring traditional and "loft"-style 1 and 2-bedroom units. One interesting feature of this extension will be the creation of a pedestrians-only "Festival Street" (ok, that name is trying a bit too hard), running parallel to Arlington Road and connecting Bethesda Avenue and Elm Street, allowing more shops to have a "street-front" presence. Completion of this project is expected in Spring 2008.

DC Council Unanimously Approves $1 Billion "New Town" Plan for Florida Avenue Market

Following up earlier reports, this week the DC Council officially and unanimously approved legislation that would create a public-private partnership between DC and New Town Development LLC to handle and oversee the $1 billion redevelopment of the 24-acre Florida Avenue Market, located to the northwest of Gallaudet University between New York and Florida Avenues NE, just blocks from the New York Avenue metro station. The planned "New Town at Capital City Market" project would put condominiums, retail shops, a hotel, and offices in this location. Up to 40% of the planned 1,700 residential units would be made affordable and available to DC employees, while the remaining 60% will be set aside for DC residents who are first-time buyers. In addition, the developer plans to build a 570,000 sf wholesale distribution space (with hope of luring back displaced vendors who now operate out of the market), plus almost 330,000 sf of retail, restaurant, and merchandising space. Also envisioned is a YMCA building, a health clinic, and library, if DC officials have their way.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Groundbreaking Ceremony Kicks off Construction for New St. Elizabeths Medical Building

On Tuesday, DC and Tompkins Builders officials broke ground on a new $140 million, 438,000-sf medical building on 49 acres at the St. Elizabeths Hospital campus in Southeast Washington. The new two-story facility, which will handle almost 300 patients, will have a 20,000-sf "green" roof to minimize runoff and save energy. Tompkins Builders (a subsidiary of Turner Construction) plans to have the building done by March 2009.

This development follows the early November announcement by DC planning officials of their proposal to also clear way for 2 million sf of office space, retail, and high-end apartments on the St. Elizabeths Hospital campus site, which consists of mostly vacant, poorly maintained 19th century terra cotta buildings next to the Congress Heights metro. The District, once the proper zoning has been approved, would like to develop the site in gradual phases, starting in 2008 with the construction of 260,000 sf of office and 150,000 sf of residential in the section closest to the metro station. The rest of the development would take place over the following decade.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bowling for Condos (or Visa Versa) in Falls Church

While plans for the north side of Falls Church’s City Center village project have apparently stalled, the same is not true for the southern part of this project, encompassing 5.3 acres on the south side of the 200 block of W. Broad Street, extending down to the current Bowl America site. On Tuesday at a special City Hall briefing, Falls Church leaders and Atlantic Realty representatives officially unveiled their plans for this long-awaited project, which includes a nine-story office on W. Broad Street, a 10-story, 180-room hotel at the corner of S. Maple and Annandale Road, and a new 55,000 sf Harris Teeter grocery on the Bowl America site. In addition, there will be 500 rental apartment units over the grocery store site, plus a 67-unit senior living condo building, 25,000 sf of new retail, and 1,500 parking spaces. And don’t fear – Bowl America is expected to be relocated to a new site, ensuring funky polyester shirts and cheese fries for generations to come. Atlantic Realty is currently seeking comprehensive zoning changes to accommodate the project, which the company hopes to start building in September 2007, with a completion date of 2011. The project plans are expected to be opened for public comment starting sometime this January.

Iconic Market in Shaw Wins Initial Approval for Development

The O Street Market (pictured), probably the most iconic building in the Shaw neighborhood of DC, has taken a critical step toward restoration with approval by the local ANC (Advisory Neighborhood Commission) this month as part of a massive project covering two city blocks just north of the Convention Center. DC-based Roadside Development, LLC, which purchased the land in 2001 and has spent the intervening time seeking local approval, will develop the blocks between 7th and 9th Streets that now contain a Giant supermarket and the O Street Market, built in 1880 and now just a shell. The historic market will house the new Giant, with over 60,000 s.f. of space, and additional space for retail. Roadside intends to use the remainder of the site to build an undetermined amount of condominiums, townhouses, and apartments, as well as about 800 parking spots, most of which will be underground. Shalom Baranes will serve as the master planning and primary architect for the site.

The site is just two blocks from the Broadcast Center One project by Four Points LLC, which is expected to provide 100,000 s.f. of office space and 185 condos above the Shaw Metro Station, with groundbreaking expected this Spring. Shovels are not expected to turn dirt until 2008. The current Giant will likely close at the end of that year; the new Giant, expected to open in 2009, will be larger than the "urban lifestlye" Safeway going up around the corner at 5th & K as part of the City Vista project. Loading docks will be moved underground, solving the problem of rows of space-hogging loading stations that now take up a full block on 9th Street. Most of the project will rise to 90 feet, though some elements may rise to as much as 110 feet under the current plans. Approval by the ANC was not required but indicates community acceptance of the project and much warmer reception by the city in future hearings.

Massive Arcola Center Project to Break Ground

On the heels of its Comprehensive Plan Amendment being approved by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, Buchanan Partners is now ready to break ground on its $1 billion, 20-year plan to transform the sleepy locale of Arcola into Arcola Center, a 400-acre project that, when completed, will contain 2.1 million sf of office space, 1.1 million sf of retail, 80 acres of townhomes and multifamily units, two hotels, and a tourism center. A key component of this project will be the construction of a new plaza-oriented "town center" lined with 145,000 sf of boutiques and restaurants. Buchanan is working with EYA on a master plan for the residential neighborhoods, and EYA and other developers will then construct the homes in a 69-acres site called the Village and another parcel that will be called the Residences at Main Street. Retail leasing will be handled by KLNB, and the search is now on for major stores to be the anchors. The retail component is expected to be ready by the end of 2008.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Major Changes Coming to Baileys Crossroads and Seven Corners Areas of NoVa

Well, I guess it’s a more reasonable plan than the desire we felt last week to level the whole area with asphalt while stuck in traffic.... Long the bane of commuters and those who appreciate smart urban planning, the strip-retail loaded, pedestrian-unfriendly areas in Fairfax County known as Baileys Crossroads (where Columbia Pike and Route 7 meet) and Seven Corners (where Routes 7 and 50, and Wilson Boulevard cross) – totaling 400 acres in all - might soon experience bright makeovers, if the county’s dreams for them come to fruition. Fairfax County and the Baileys Crossroads/Seven Corners Revitalization Corp. are eagerly anticipating a major study from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) that is expected to present a roadmap for economically revitalizing these aging but vital intersections, located less than 15 minutes from DC. Fairfax County is already working to get a jump on things, having rezoned some of this land to permit and encourage new residential, retail, and office projects, and developers aren’t far behind. Local builder Weissberg Corp. has already filed plans to construct a mixed residential, retail, and office project on Columbia Pike, and another developer is hoping to put a 2.2 million sf mixed-use residential complex on Route 7 where the Burlington Plaza now sits. With plans like these, there may soon come a day when people again remember Baileys Crossroads for the ringmaster who once set up shop there, and not the circus of garish retail and roads it had become.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

View 14 Condos Goes Rental

View14 condos, the high-profile project by DC-based Level 2 Development, will reportedly end sales on its project at 14th and Florida, NW, and build the yet unrealized project into rental apartments. Bethesda-based SK & I Architects designed the building to angle away from the road with walls of glass that, with the natural slope of the land, will supply many of the 170 units with a view downtown when completed in mid 2008. The much anticipated project is expected to realize the District's goal of creating a retail strip from downtown through Columbia Heights, replacing a once thriving row of auto dealerships that in recent decades became the archetype of urban blight. The 14th Street corridor's more recent rebound includes local developers like PN Hoffman populating the strip with pricey condominiums, and one of the higher concentrations of local retail in the city - at least up to W Street, where Busboys and Poets signals the end of the developed strip, until now. View14 is replacing the old Petrovitch body shop and a bevy of enormous Comcast satellite receivers, most of which have already been removed.

Many local developers have faced pressure from investors to move away from condos and toward the more lucrative apartment market, especially where investors require pre-construction sales up to 2 years in advance. Such requirements have been harder to accommodate as fewer buyers are finding it advantageous to sign a contract one to two years before completion, forcing developers to cancel condo projects early in the development projects. Level 2 is partnering with Centrum Properties, a large Chicago-based developer, to help realize the ambitious project, and retains further plans to replace the outdated Nehemiah strip mall across the Street, which it purchased for $13.2m in March of this year and intends to plow under next year in favor of a mixed-use development with condos and retail.

Falkland Chase Project Moves Forward

The massive redevelopment of the north side of the historic Falkland Chase complex in Silver Spring has taken another step forward, with the recent filing of the Project Plan Review development application for this project with The Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission (M-NCPPC). The Falkland North complex, to be located on the northeast corner of East-West Highway and 16th Street, will be a mixed use development built by Home Properties, containing 1,020 residential units, plus 62,000 sf of retail and commercial space (with a grocery store expected as one of the retail tenants).

Friday, December 08, 2006

Construction Begins at The Admiral Condominium Near Navy Yard

ICP Partners, a nation-wide developer now expanding in DC, has started prep work on the site of what is supposed to be a 17-unit condominium building at 801 Virginia Avenue SE. The Admiral will be located just south of the Southwest-Southeast Freeway at the end of the historic 8th Street "Barracks Row" corridor on Capitol Hill. This project, which has been endorsed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as pro-environmental for its green roof, will also contain 17 below-grade parking spots, 3,200 sf of retail, and 5,000 sf of office space. Units will have "high-end" finishes, with some offering balcony views of the Capitol. Architecture by Bonstra Haresign includes a small wood-frame structure with public roof deck, facing the Southwest Expressway. Completion is expected in 2008.

Washington DC real estate development news

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bonifant-astic News for Silver Spring

It started with the building of the Lofts 24 condominium at the southeast corner of Bonifant Street and Fenton Street, and was followed with the revitalization of The Quarry House Tavern at the Georgia Avenue end of Bonifant, but now it looks like the shops and buildings sandwiched between the two are to find themselves in the midst of the development action already reshaping Silver Spring. First on the drawing board is a residential project planned for the abandoned apartment building at 935 Bonifant Street (to the right of Nail Genie at 937 Bonifant). If built, the seven-story Bonifant Street Condominium – which will incorporate and build upon the existing structure – will contain 59 contemporary units, with “townhouse”-style units on the lower level. However, zoning issues with this project have put it on hold for the time being. Next up is a residential project planned for the stretch of existing storefronts businesses between 949 and 961 Bonifant Street. The proposal recently filed with the Montgomery County Planning Board for this location details plans for an eight or nine-story residential building with 72 units (probably rental), with 72 parking spaces below the structure. An actual timetable for this development is not yet known. What is to become of the businesses now occupying this location (such as the Tayari Casel Martial Arts Academy and the Pennyworth Shop) if this project is done is not yet known. Finally, just around the corner on Wayne Street, a new Silver Spring Library is planned that will have exposures facing both Fenton and Bonifant Streets. This 41,000-sf building will replace the current and outdated existing library that was built in the 1950s on Colesville Road. Construction is expected to begin in 2008.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Plans to Redevelop Florida Avenue Market Win Preliminary Approval

Long the last bastion of industrial warehouses (not to mention a great Italian deli) and the wholesalers who supply DC with meat and produce, the Florida Avenue Market (or Capitol City Market), located to the northwest of Gallaudet University between New York and Florida Avenues NE, now finds itself at a gentrification crossroads, as it is at the center of a battle over plans to turn this 24-acre industrial area into a new residential "town center" near the New York Avenue metro station. Round one was won by the developer on Tuesday, when the DC Council gave preliminary approval to Sang Oh Choi (who owns most of this land) for his $1.2 billion "New Town at Capital City Market" project that would put condominiums, retail shops, a hotel, offices, a YMCA, and a theater/ice rink in this location. A minimum of 20% of the planned 1,450 residential units would be made affordable and available to DC employees such as teachers and fire/police officers. In addition, Choi plans to build warehouses with three levels of parking for the wholesalers now operating in the market. Merchants are understandably nervous about these plans, and there was strong opposition to this proposal on the DC Council. However, the measure was approved after being attached as an amendment to another bill on workforce housing by supportive council members.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Changes Coming to Georgia Avenue-Petworth, Dunn Loring Metro Stops

Those who suffered through the building of the Green Line remember well the disruption and dust kicked up by that long project, and celebrated the day the line was completed. While not as controversial, and in the end it will be part of something wonderful for Petworth, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is planning to close the west escalator entrance to the Georgia Ave-Petworth station for two years starting December 11, 2006 (the east escalator entrance will stay open). This is part of the construction plan for Park Place (pictured), which is being built above the station. When completed in mid-2008, Park Place will offer 156 units in a 6-story building built by Donatelli Development. Park Place will offer underground parking and private rooftop terraces for prices starting at $320,000 for a 1BR condo and $480,000 for a 2 BR unit.

In other metro stop news, on Monday the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved Trammel Crow Residential’s plan to build a 720-unit apartment building with retail on a 15-acre lot at the Dunn Loring-Merrifield station. The project calls for three towers, set around a landscaped plaza, to be built on the parking lot, along with a new six-story parking garage with 2,000 spaces and stores underneath. There also will be 1,150 additional underground parking spaces under the apartment towers. Eight percent of the apartments will be set aside as "workforce" housing for county employees and low-income residents. In addition, Trammel Crow has pledged to the county a contribution to help cover the costs that the expected influx of new school-aged children will bring.

Monday, December 04, 2006

$400 Million Waterside Mall Redevelopment Project Takes a Step Forward

After years of sadly languishing while waiting for the wheels of development and bureaucracy to turn, progress can now be reported on the $400 million plan to revitalize the aging Waterside Mall at 401 M Street SW, just blocks from the major Southwest waterfront development that will take place along the Washington Channel. The National Capitol Revitalization Corp. (NCRC) board has finally approved the transfer of most of this property (almost 586,000 sf) to Waterfront Associates, a joint venture between Bressler & Reiner (the original builders of Waterside Mall in the early 1960s), Kaempfer, and Forest City Enterprises. Waterfront Associates already owns the existing mall building and two office towers on the site (as well as development rights), but needed this transfer of the ground lease from the NCRC (the DC Council ok’d the NCRC transfer earlier this year). Waterfront Associates plans to develop 1.2 million sf of residential units and another 1.2 million sf of office space, plus 75,000 of retail (including renovation of the existing Safeway), and will do this by building new buildings and renovating the existing towers. The DC government has committed to lease 500,000 sf of this office space for 15 years, starting in 2009 (when the space is expected to be completed). In addition, the site will be opened up to allow 4th Street SW to go through the development so I and M Streets would be once again connected. However, for the height the joint venture wants to build, zoning commission approval is needed, which probably will not occur until mid-2007 (the land transfer will officially take place once zoning is approved). Construction will then begin.

AWC Presents Poplar Point Proposals

Poplar Point, Anacostia, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, real estate development map
Last week, the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. (AWC) officially presented at a public meeting the first proposals submitted for the development of Poplar Point, 110 acres located across the river from the Washington Navy Yard at the eastern foot of the South Capitol Street bridge in Southeast DC. This land will be transferred by the Federal government to DC as part of legislation passed on November 16th. The proposals, drafted by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, presented two visions for the land. The first shows retail, office, and residential development in three clusters (near Good Hope Road SE to the east, W Street SE in the middle, and Howard Road SE to the west), with a new soccer stadium (and parking) for DC United and a 500-room hotel and conference center near the W Street development. 

Anacostia River and Poplar Point - real estate development in Washington DC
The second proposal shows all the retail, office and residential development, but leaves out the soccer stadium and hotel. New roads are also to be built to link these three clusters. The residential component calls for between 1,400 and 2,300 units, with 30% priced below market rate. Almost half of the transferred land will be preserved as public park land and green space and trails along the Anacostia River. These proposals, which are open for public comment, will not be finalized for a number of months.

District of Columbia real estate development news

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