Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mount Pleasant Heights to Deliver This Summer

After years of neglect and neighbors tsk tsk-ing the accumulated trash and decrepit condition of the property, it now appears that work has begun on two tall rowhouses located at 3508-3510 16th Street NW in Mount Pleasant. The project – known as Mount Pleasant Heights – is located at the southwest corner of Oak and 16th Streets, and is being developed by 3510 16th Street LLC, with sales by UrbanLand Company. When completed, the two rowhouses will be combined and feature somewhere between 12-18 renovated condominium units, with one-bedroom units starting around $250,000 and two bedroom units at $350,000. Completion is expected this Summer.

Rosslyn's "Central Place" Project Moves Forward

Creating “a new horizon” for Rosslyn, JBG Companies is proposing to create Central Place, two glass buildings that will become Rosslyn’s tallest structures (and replace long-time fixture Tom Sarris Orleans House on the corner of Wilson Boulevard and N. Lynn Street). Designed by Beyer Blinder Belle, the Central Place buildings will feature curved glass tops that will stand above their lower, rectangular neighbors, diversifying the otherwise flat horizon.

One building will be a 350-unit residential structure while the other will be a 577,000 s.f. office building; both will include retail on the lower levels. The residential building will be approximately 35 ft shorter than the office building, which will include a two-level observation deck rendered with arched windows that will provide a panoramic view of D.C.’s monuments and the Arlington National Cemetery.

According to Kathleen Webb, a Principal at JBG, if the plan is approved in April, demolition of Orleans House restaurant, McDonalds, and office buildings that currently occupy the site will begin a year later.

Thomas Miller, Current Planning Supervisor in the Arlington Planning Division, said that despite the nearly five year planning process, “people are really supportive of and happy with getting more heights in the area.”

In order to establish building heights that both fulfill the project’s goals and are safe for the area’s air traffic, developers have been working with the Federal Aviation Administration. The tallest building will be about 470 ft above sea level and divided into approximately 30 floors. A completion date has not yet been announced.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Buckingham Villages Project Gains Arlington County Approval

On March 20, the Arlington County Board gave its approval to plans submitted by owner 4319 North Pershing Drive Apartment Investors LLC for the massive redevelopment of the 17 acres comprising Buckingham Villages, a historic low-density community southwest of downtown Ballston surrounding N. Glebe Road. Built in the 1930s, Buckingham Villages contained 1800 units, and was one of the largest apartment complexes in the nation and a model middle class community development. In the 1990s, some units were converted to coops, and the condition of the complex started showing its age.

A partnership including developer Paradigm Company purchased the Buckingham Villages complex a decade ago, and in early 2006 proposed redeveloping the entire site. The original plan called for removing all of the existing buildings as well as the historic landscaping and trees. While the proposal included a potential 212 affordable rental units, there was no guarantee of preserving the existing community or of any historic preservation. However, granting historic designation, while helping preserve the complex, would have jeopardized affordable housing. To find a mutually positive solution, Arlington County and Paradigm worked together to produce a Memorandum of Understanding in July 2006, which stated the following objectives: (1) Preserving the community by allowing current Buckingham Villages residents to continue living there, or in the immediate neighborhood; (2) Creating no less than 300 committed affordable units; and (3) Preserving Village 3 and redeveloping Villages 1 and 2 in a “historically sensitive manner.”

The ultimate plan approved on March 20 would accomplish these goals, with all of Village 3 (140 units) reserved as affordable housing (the County will partner with an affordable housing provider and purchase Village 3 for $32.1 million), plus 160 additional units in the complex also set aside for affordable housing. Once completed, the development will feature a total of 646 apartments and 68 townhouse units. In addition, new streets and new park space will be created with $11.8 million secured for this purpose. No timetable has been set for completion.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Allegro Clears Site, Ready to Start Construction

The old Giant is finally gone, and site preparation work is now taking place for the Allegro condominium, expected to rise at 3460 14th Street NW in Columbia Heights, a few blocks north of the current building boom in this neighborhood around the metro. Developer Metro Properties hopes to have this new $105 million, 297-unit building finished in two years. The 353,000-sf Allegro will feature one and two-bedroom units, plus penthouses with outdoor terraces. Pricing starts around $300,000 for one bedrooms, up through the $500,000 range for penthouses. The building will be 5 stories tall, and have 7,000-sf of retail tenants (a coffee shop is expected, though not a new Giant, as that has already been constructed next to the Tivoli Theater down 14th).

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Suiting Up for Redevelopment

After January’s delay in the selection of a developer for Suitland Manor’s redevelopment, Prince George’s County Redevelopment Authority (PGCRA) is continuing their search with a projected announcement date of May. Once chosen, the developer will work with PGCRA to transform Suitland Manor from a once-troubled neighborhood into a 22-acre $80 million mixed-use project with a commercial main street, new offices, retail stores, and residential areas.

Steve Paul, Project Manager for Suitland Manor , said of the project, “We are looking for a fairly dense, mixed-use development and we would like to see some of the adjacent property redeveloped.” PGCRA’s initial renderings depict a pedestrian-friendly, 33-acre (when completed) development located across from the Suitland Federal Center, and within walking distance of the Suitland Metro Center.

The massive development is a 200-building, 13-commercial property acquisition, demolition, and resident relocation project. PGCRA currently has 96 units; however 85 homes must still be purchased for PGCRA to own the entire site. While the number of residential units to be built has not been determined, the new Suitland Manor will feature affordable housing with an emphasis on home ownership.

This development is not the first for the Suitland metro area. In 2004, the county completed the Windsor Crossing development, combining a 125-unit senior housing facility, 95 for-sale houses, and 130 multi-family rental villas two blocks from Suitland Manor. Mid-Atlantic Real Estate Investments is also planning to break ground this summer on its 22-acre, mixed-use residential and commercial “Town Center” project across from the Suitland metro station.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A "New Georgetown" ... But With Metro!

Following the development trend of its neighboring New York Ave. metro stop, if all goes according to plan the area surrounding the Rhode Island Ave. metro will soon be turned into Brentwood Town Center, a mini-village with a “main street” and town-house style buildings.

Described as a renaissance for the area, the project’s 370,000 sf will include 274 rental apartments and 70,000 sf retail space that will spread along Rhode Island Avenue NE and surround the entrance to the metro station. The plan will include a number of small buildings as opposed to two or three larger structures, giving the project a Georgetown-like appearance and allowing for color and architectural diversity. Developed by Rhode Island Avenue Metro, LLC, the combination of Mid-City Urban and A&R Development, the mixed-use pattern received zoning approval at the March 12th DC Zoning Commission hearing.

Victoria S. Davis of Rhode Island Avenue Metro, LLC said the project has been endorsed by several organizations including the Washington Smart Growth Alliance as being a smart growth project that is transit-oriented and that will transform the neighborhood into a “vibrant new community on the city’s Northeast side.” Planned adjacent to the Home Depot-Giant shopping center, the town center will include two parking garages with over 400 parking spaces for retail and residential uses as well as parking for metro customers.

According to Caroline Kennedy, a development associate for Mid-City Urban, LLC, the land is still owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. However, it is being leased to the developer under a long-term ground lease. The project is set to break ground in early 2008.

New Apartment Ready to Join Nationals’ Neighborhood


Bringing life to the lot across South Capitol Street from the new Nationals baseball stadium, Camden Properties is planning an 11-story residential apartment building with potential ground-floor retail for 1325 South Capitol Street, SE. Designed by WDG Architecture, the project is rendered as a large rectangular building, with large panels of windows on each corner and balconies at each level. The building’s entrance will feature an eleven-story glass front that stands perpendicular to the lower level retail stores. The 276-unit development will be upwards of 300,000 sf and set back from South Capitol St. by 15 feet to move the development away from the major road. Bounded to the east by South Capitol, the south by O Street SW, to the west by Half Street SW and to the north by N Street SW, the development will provide 204 parking spaces, a gym for residents, and 3,300 sf neighborhood-serving retail space, two stories of which will front the O Street corner.

The project went before the DC Zoning Commission on February 22, and Camden was asked to further outline the “green” steps the project will take as well as its plan for affordable housing, project height, and its proximity to a number of townhouses. According to Ginger Ackiss, Head of Development for Camden for this development, the design review for the project will take place by the end of March, at which point Camden will begin pricing the units and will begin applying for permits at the end of April. The project is expected to break ground in the Fall of 2007.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Extra! Newseum Apartments Now Accepting Potential Renters

After years in Rosslyn, the brand new $435 million Newseum development at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 6th Street NW, is quickly preparing for its grand opening in the Fall of 2007. But that is not stopping the residential component of the project from starting to now accept applications from potential residents interesting in pre-leasing one of its 135 apartments. When completed, the Newseum complex will feature a 250,000-sf museum, a two-level 24,000-sf conference center, and seven levels of galleries, theaters, retail spaces and visitor services. In addition, a three-level restaurant - The Source by Wolfgang Puck – will occupy the northwest corner of the building. The apartments (officially known as "The Residences at the Newseum") will take up 12 floors and 140,000 sf, face both C and 6th Streets, and feature a root-top terrace and fitness center, with balconies, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances in the units. Studios are expected to start at $1,600/month, with one bedrooms beginning at $2,300/month and two bedrooms at $3,500/month. Project manager for the Newseum is CarrAmerica Ltd., with Bozzuto & Associates handling management of the Residences. Architecture by Polshek Partnership Architects.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Metropole to Start Sales

Metropole condominium, Logan Circle, Washington DCMetropolis Development will begin taking appointments today for the Metropole, its 90-unit condominium being built at 15th and P Streets across from the Logan Whole Foods. The first phase of sales was stopped in April 2005 after the developer sold a third of the units, and will resume when the newly remodeled sales center opens next Friday. Initial sales will be by appointment only. 

Metropolis has hired HGTV design star Cecconi Simone for interior design of the building and sales center; the latter will feature a fully equipped model unit. This will be the first regional project for Toronto-based Cecconi Simone, which has a large international portfolio of boutique hotel renovations and condominium design. This will be the fifth local project for DC-based Metropolis, which recently completed Cooper Lewis condos less than a block away. The Metropole will offer both public and private parking as well as a variety of retail, including VIDA Fitness and Bang Salon. Residents will be offered "hotel-style" concierge service when the project completes late this year. Marketing and sales by Ken Johnson of DCRE.

Washington DC real estate news

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Big Plans for Andrews Air Force Base in PG County

If plans drawn up by the Andrews Business and Community Alliance come to fruition, 7 million sf of new development might soon surround Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George’s County. This move is seen as a way to retain and build upon the $1.2 billion in annual economic benefit the base – which is also planning to expand - brings the county (similar to what has already been done at Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County). While base relocations will bring about 600 new military positions to the base, the amount of work generated and possibility of future increases has the county ready to devise this master plan. The Andrews Business and Community Alliance envisions creating over 5 million sf of office space (focused on defense and technology), 2 million sf of retail, and over 15,000 residential units to surround the base, which encompasses the land bordered by Route 4, Branch Avenue, Old Alexandria Ferry Road and Allentown Road. The Alliance is also looking at a possible extension of Metro's Green Line to Andrews. This project would join nearby development such as a planned $1.4 billion residential and retail complex along Route 4, and a number of residential projects in Camp Springs, just north of the base at the Branch Avenue Metro stop.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Application Submitted for New "Auburn Avenue" Residential Project in Bethesda

The massive development of new residential space in Bethesda continues, though as opposed to the last few we detailed in the new downtown Bethesda, this one is back on the northwest edge of the old "Woodmont Triangle" area. An application for project review has been submitted to the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission by the Auburn Medical Building Assoc. to develop a mixed-use building on one acre at the southwest corner of the intersection of Auburn and Norfolk Avenues (toward the quieter end of Norfolk Avenue). The project would consist of 60 residential units, 18,700 sf of office space, and 10,800 sf of retail. We are working to learn more details regarding this project (and will report when found), not the least because this is also the site of Cornucopia, one of our favorite Italian food shops. Developing....

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Elm Street Receives Zoning OK for "Dr. Dremo’s" Mixed-Use Project

If you are parched and in need of a cold microbrew pint, now is the time to head over to Dr. Dremo’s TapHouse at 2000 Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon, as the last drink will be served in about a year, if all goes according to Elm Street Development’s plan for this stretch of prime Arlington real estate. On February 26, after two years of rumblings, Elm Street received rezoning approval to demolish this stretch of buildings containing Dr. Dremo’s and Taco Bell to make way for a seven-story,141-residential unit complex (pictured is an older rendering - we are working on finding an updated one), with 35,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and 243 underground parking spaces. The developer is undecided whether they will be condos or apartments at this point. To better fit in with the scale of this block, which steeply inclines as it goes West, the structure will gradually build upward from two stories to seven stories. Elm Street will also incorporate several "green" building techniques to increase its ability to filter storm water. Construction is expected to start in early 2008 and be completed in 2010. Architecture will be by WDG. Once done, Elm Street’s project will join the 153-unit condo structure by Holladay Corp. at 1800 Wilson Boulevard, and Monument Realty's 306-unit Odyssey directly across Clarendon Boulevard.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

GWU Squaring Away Old Hospital Site

The DC Zoning Commission has asked George Washington University (GWU) to revise the height of the buildings proposed for the development of Square 54, a mixed-use development at the former GW Hospital site. GWU is working with Boston Properties and (Virginia-based) KSI Services to re-develop the university-owned property, a 2.6-acre parcel on the Southeast corner of Washington Circle, into a multi-tower town center featuring approximately 336 residential units. 84,000 s.f. of retail space will front I St., and 454,000 s.f. office space will overlook Washington Circle. Designed by Connecticut-based Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, LLP and Boston and San-Francisco-based Sasaki & Associates, the project, with a predicted completion date of 2011, will also include an open space courtyard with pedestrian walkway, and landscaped plaza for outside dining that will have gates at I Street and 23rd St.

The office space fronting Washington Circle will include a 67-foot span of windows that curve along the circle, while the residential portion will be non-university housing that will feature “luxury” rental apartments along I and 22nd streets, a portion of which will be affordable housing. While the retailers will not be decided until the project is permitted, the commercial portion is intended to line I Street with cafes, stores, restaurants, and a supermarket. There will be a 60-foot setback from the street to make room for L.A.-style outside dining, window-shopping, and increased sidewalk space. In order to develop this commercial space, the Office of Planning required that GW demonstrate the ability to accommodate its future academic and housing space needs. According to Tracy Schario, the Director of Media Relations at GW, the university met this requirement with a 20-year campus redevelopment plan within the current campus boundaries.

According Schario, GW was asked to submit another filing to address the height of the Square 54 project along 22nd St. and expects the Zoning Commission to take proposed action on the application at an upcoming meeting. If approved, the National Capitol Planning Commission will review the Planned Unit Development from a federal perspective, evaluating the project’s impact on federal areas. It will then be sent back to the zoning commission for final approval.

The development of the property, which has been vacant since 2003, has been a matter of contention between the Foggy Bottom Association and what the Washington Post dubbed “The University that Ate Foggy Bottom”. The development-phobic neighbors have protested the project several times, including arguments at recent zoning meetings against the project’s proposed density. Schario said that while there is some opposition from the neighborhood, the project, which sits one block from the Metro, could be a win-win situation for the area. “This will be the gateway to Foggy Bottom, it supports smart growth and is a transit-oriented development. Look at Gallery Place and Penn Quarter to see the benefits it (a development like this) can bring to the community.”

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Approval Expected for Centex Symphony Park Project in Bethesda

After years of discussion, it appears that Centex Corp.’s plan to build Symphony Park in North Bethesda next to Strathmore Hall might soon move forward, with the Montgomery County Planning Board scheduled to hold a hearing on this proposal on March 15. Centex’s development, which was scaled back from its original plan, would now put 112 townhouses (with 17 being moderately priced units) on 9 acres at the southeast corner of the intersection of Strathmore Avenue and Rockville Pike in North Bethesda (the site of the former American Speech-Language and Hearing Association building). In addition, Centex has donated another 9 acres to public use for outdoor film festivals and shows at Strathmore Hall. As part of this project, sidewalks along Rockville Pike will be widened, and green space will be emphasized throughout the development. Approval of this proposal is expected, and construction could begin as soon as this year.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Donatelli Development Opens New Downtown Sales Office

Donatelli Development and Domus Realty are set to officially open their new sales center on U Street this week. The new "state-of-the-art" sales center, designed by Georgetown-based architect Hickok Cole, will showcase Donatelli's projects at Columbia Heights and Petworth: Kenyon Square (pictured), Highland Park and Park Place. The sales center will feature scale models of the various buildings as well as a model kitchen and bath. Donatelli Development's projects were the anchor for the redevelopment of Columbia Heights, with the three residential projects currently underway at 14th and Irving. The company is now shifting its focus to the Georgia Avenue corridor, starting with the construction of Park Place , a 150-unit condominium built over the northern entrance to the Petworth Metro. The new sales center is located at 1301 U Street in the first floor of the Ellington, an apartment project completed by Donatelli in 2004.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Falkland North Project Details, Images Revealed

Following months of speculation, Home Properties finally released new details and images on February 22 at a Silver Spring Regional Center meeting of its planned redevelopment of the northern portion of the Falkland Chase apartments, the historic apartment community built in 1937 on 22 acres in downtown Silver Spring along 16th Street and East-West Highway. The Falkland North complex, to be located on the 9-acre northeast corner of East-West Highway at 16th Street, will be a mixed-use development containing 1,020 residential units and three levels of underground parking. There will also be 62,000 sf of retail and commercial space, with a Harris Teeter grocery store expected as one of the retail tenants. Monthly rents are expected to be $1,500 for a studio up to $2,200 for a two-bedroom unit – ambitious rates for Silver Spring. The project will contain interconnected towers (the tallest being 15 stories) in a semi-circle around a 1.5-acres courtyard featuring a pond and waterfall. Architecture is by Grimm & Parker, which has the new images of this project on its website. Construction is not expected to begin until close to 2010, assuming all approvals fall into place.

Columbia Village Project to Break Ground This Summer

The on-site demolition has already started, and Fairfield Residential is making plans to start construction on its $85 million residential project at 5400 S. Columbia Pike in Arlington this Summer. Columbia Village will replace an old office and retail building, and will be a 10-story, 235-unit apartment building, with 7,000 sf of retail on the ground floor. In addition, the proposed $150 million streetcar system that is planned for a five-mile stretch along Columbia Pike between Pentagon City and Skyline in Fairfax is expected to have a stop in front of Columbia Village. Delivery of this apartment building is expected by Summer 2009.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Sales Begin at Keystone Condos

Sales officially begin this weekend at Keystone Condominiums, a renovated condominium at 3956 Pennsylvania Ave in Hillcrest. Nicol Development began renovating the former apartment building a year ago, and will feature granite counters, stainless steel appliances, hardwoods, and private storage spaces in each unit. Condos in the building will be 2 and 3-bedrooms priced from the upper $100k's to the mid $200k’s, with completion scheduled for April 2007. The Hillcrest neighborhood, called DC’s best kept secret by the Washingtonian, is a mixture of Colonial, Tudor, and Cape Cod-style houses. Minutes away from Fort Dupont Park, it is a few blocks from the Maryland line and thirteen minutes from Union Station. Sales will initially be by appointment-only. Marketing and sales by DCRE.

Washington DC retail and real estate news

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Washington Gateway Project Images, Details

Washington DC commercial real estate agent
One of the more exciting proposed projects to hit the New York Avenue NE corridor the past year is MRP Realty’s Washington Gateway project, a $350 million development to be located in the NoMa section of Washington, just above the New York Avenue metro station at the southeast corner of New York and Florida Avenues NE, now the location of an abandoned lot and gas station (which will be going out of business in March). And MRP Realty has now provided us exclusive images and information about this anticipated project. Earlier this month, the DC Zoning Commission granted Final Action approval to MRP Realty’s plan for this 1 million-sf, mixed-use project, which will feature two office towers (600,000 sf of office space total), plus a T-shaped structure, with one side containing a 180-room hotel and the other side a 250-unit residential tower (with 8% reserved for affordable housing). 

Washington Gateway Elevation, MRP Realty, SK+I Architecture, Occulus landscape, Gensler ArchitectsMRP will also reconfigure, widen, and upgrade the walking areas along New York and Florida Avenues to enhance pedestrian access and safety, and also include new plantings and furnishings. In addition, sidewalk cafes and shops are planned for these thoroughfares. The project will also provide a direct connection to the metro through the Metropolitan Branch Trail via a three-story atrium. There will also be a public central plaza with cobblestones, benches, and a fountain, and will feature bicycle racks and a bicycle pump station. The architect for the office towers will be Gensler, with SK&I handing the residential and hotel tower. Land and streetscaping will be designed by Occulus. MRP expects to break ground in early 2008, with completion scheduled for early 2010. See the Washington Gateway site plan and more images of the project.  MRP Realty was created in 2005 by former Trammel Crow executives, and is quickly rising in the Washington metro developer scene, with over 2.25 million sf under development and another 3 million sf of development in the pipeline. Speaking with dcmud, Jonathan Lischke, MRP Vice President, stated that “[w]e are very excited about the project as Washington Gateway combines elegant and sophisticated urban architecture with sustainable design and smart growth. The buildings will be a combination of glass, metal, and pre-cast; incorporate green elements; and encourage pedestrian and bicycle use through proximity to metro and the Metropolitan Branch Trail. As one of the tallest projects in the District, Washington Gateway will not only have views of the Capitol Building but it will also be highly visible as a gateway to NoMa and downtown DC.”

Washington DC commercial real estate news

Second Chance Granted to First Baptist Church

The Arlington County Board first approved the “Views at Clarendon” on October 23, 2004. Two years, a project-halting technicality, and a $200,000 lawsuit later, the County board again approved the mixed-use church and multi-family residential building in a 4-1 vote. The meeting was just one more chapter of the ongoing saga over the First Baptist Church of Clarendon.

As DCMud reported at the beginning of this month, residents of the surrounding Lyon Village neighborhood filed a lawsuit in November to reverse the zoning approval of the project, objecting to the 10-story, 116 rental-unit structure that will keep the current church’s 107-foot steeple in tact and include daycare and moderately priced housing. The County Circuit Court judge ruled in 2005 against the neighbors, but the decision was reversed in 2006 when the Virginia Supreme Court determined that the board acted against their own Zoning Ordinance 27A and thus, invalidated the earlier zoning approval. After changing this technicality, the plan was resubmitted for approval.

Over 200 neighbors, community figures, and board members attended the February 24th meeting, 126 of whom signed up to speak. According to Mary Curtius, the Arlington County Media Relations Manager, the attendance was evenly divided between supporters and opponents. Curtius added that the county’s main interest in the project is the affordable housing and day care, “what is so unusual about it (the project) is that there are so few opportunities in Arlington for affordable housing and daycare within walking distance of the metro. The two together is almost impossible to find.” At the meeting, board member Jay Fisette shared the same sentiments, “If not here, where?” he asked.

Those opposed to the project threatened a second lawsuit, the first of which was paid for by the neighbors. Barring any further legal action, the Views at Clarendon Corporation, Inc., the non-profit that was formed for the project, will begin developing the county’s largest childcare facility and new affordable housing units. While the site plan has been approved, permits for the 1201 N. Highland Street development have yet to be obtained. The church began the process back in 2003 when it hired the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to guide it on affordable housing.

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