Friday, May 30, 2008

Construction at Capitol Quarter Begins


With a financing package that settled today, construction of the 33-acre Capitol Quarter in Southeast is now set to begin. Spurred by a Hope VI grant from HUD in 2001 that has been leveraged from $34.9 million to $700 million, the DC Housing Authority is partnering with Forest City Enterprises, Mid-City Urban, and EYA Associates, Inc. to create Capitol Quarter on the site of the now-demolished 707-unit Arthur Capper and Carrollsburg Dwellings public housing projects in Near Southeast. DCHA closed today on the first of three phases; construction will now begin on a 158 townhouse segment that will deliver at the end of 2009.

Until this point, construction was being done on the infrastructure of the area as part of an agreement with the District government to install new underground utilities, sanitary and water lines, and a new storm management system. These improvements were financed by a $36.7 million bond approved by the District Council and backed by new real estate taxes generated from new developments.

A mixture of affordable and market-rate rental and for-sale townhouses, the site, located officially at 1023 4th Street, SE, will include 395 public housing units, 162 rental units for seniors, 139 rental units for workforce housing, 410 affordable rental units, 42 voucher for-sale units, 171 for-sale workforce units, and 144 market-rate units when the project reaches completion in 2013. Located near the Navy Yard, the development will also offer 702,00 s.f. of office space, 51,000 s.f. of retail space, and an 18,000 s.f. LEED-certified community center.

“The retail will be neighborhood serving but will also serve the office portion because this will be a large residential community, but it is also right on the Navy Yard, and that huge office complex is right there. It is also caddy-corner to the stadium,” said Dena Michaelson, Director of Public Affairs for DCHA.

The 33-acre site is within walking distance of the Navy Yard Metro, and was vacated in phases starting in 2001. The project was fully demolished in 2006, and has since completed the senior independent-living building. The second phase, which will include another 158 townhouses, will deliver between 2011 and 2012. The third and final phase will deliver 52 townhouses between 2012 and 2013. The townhouses, handled mainly by EYA were designed by Lessard Group.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bethesda Condo Gets the Go-Ahead

Plans for Rugby Avenue Condominiums at 4851 Rugby Avenue went before the Montgomery County Planning Board for a second time this morning and were approved. In the fall of 2007, developers Polinger Shannon & Luchs (cleverly disguised as 4851 Rugby Avenue LLC) were denied their application for a 10-story, 71-unit condo building with 1,250 s.f. of public art studio space and told that the plans exceeded the nine-story (90 feet) zoning limit. The new plan shows a lower height and increased art space.

The Woodmont Triangle project will now include only 61 condominium units, 8 of which will be affordable, 2,000 s.f. for four art studios, and a 3,277 s.f. outdoor public plaza. Now nine stories, the building will replace two small office buildings on the north side of Rugby Avenue at the intersection of Auburn and Rugby Avenues, and will include two and a half levels of underground parking.

"Obviously we are in the Bethesda Central Business District – which is a dynamic market in and of itself," said Elliot Schnitzer, a manager at Polinger. "Walter Reed is relocating to Bethesda Naval. Our site is between the Medical Center and Bethesda Metro stops and in walking distance to Bethesda Naval," he said.

Schnitzer also told DCMud that the developers will now work with Guy Martin of CORE Architects on construction drawings. When asked about the likelihood of joining the go-rental trend, Schnitzer said the company was standing by their condo plans. As DCMud reported last week, Triumph Development canceled its plans for 4901 Hampden Lane in the center of the Bethesda shopping district just last week, citing the approval process and market factors.

“People who have changed to rental have already broken ground. We hope to time it to hopefully hit the market on the rebound,” he said. A construction schedule has not been set, though the project will certainly beat out its neighbor - 4823 Rugby Ave. - which has submitted plans for a 24-unit building but remains in the 'concept' phase.

The Duke Begins Sales in Old Town

While a small group of VIP previewers got a sneak peak of the Duke Townhomes and Flats sales center last night, the official grand opening for Old Town's newest residences will be next Saturday, June 7th. Marquis Custom Homes, an affiliate of Van Meter Companies, is selling 18 brick townhomes ranging from approximately 2,000 s.f. - 2,300 s.f., each with a patio, balcony, and parking in a garage under the structure. The project also includes 40 flats that range from about 1,300-1,600 s.f. that will deliver in a year, the developer claims. These are two-bedroom, two-bathroom units, with parking and storage space, some of which also have a den.

The project replaces the Fannon Oil site, which has been largely been vacant recently. Unlike the innovative, urban-chic styles developers strive for in emerging D.C. neighborhoods, the developers had to follow specific architectural guidelines to make the project fit into the Historic District.

“The Old Town Architecture Review Committee is very picky, so a lot of the decisions of what to build were governed by the historic nature of the area. The townhomes that you will see from the street are all brick, so they blend in. Every detail was combed over to make sure the project fit in with the historic nature of the area,” said Jane Herrmann, Sales Manager for the project.

Located on the 1300 block of Duke Street on the edge of the Historic District of Old Town Alexandria, the project is two blocks from the King Street Metro and the main strip of shops and restaurants. The project will join Cromley Lofts and the Jamieson, both new residences selling near the King Street metro station.

Alexandria Virginia real estate development news

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hill East: Douglas Takes Down the Colonel

Hill East, Douglas Development, KFC, GTM Architects, new restaurant
Fresh on the heels of the Mayor's announcement that the Hill East redevelopment will soon get underway,
Douglas Development is hatching its own project on Pennsylvania Avenue. Douglas, owner of the old Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) site on the corner of 15th and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, has plans for a two-story office and retail project. But while the Mayor seems willing to take on neighborhood anti-development forces around the corner, Douglas plans only two stories in a low-density nod to local tastes. Zoning of the site allows the company to build up to four stories, but the developer’s feasibility study suggests a two-story structure that blends into the neighborhood in a curb to curb structure that eliminates the parking lot. Douglas will demolish the fast food restaurant and parking lot. The catch? The maximum g.s.f. for the site is 10,915 s.f., and the developer is required to provide 28 parking spaces. The proposed building, designed by Bethesda-based GTM Architects, is, according to the developer's study, 13,499 s.f., with no parking. 

Douglas Development, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pennsylvania Avenue
So it seems that Douglas needs the neighbors on its side in order to get past the ANC and the Board of Zoning. According to Bert Randolph of ANC 6B, Douglas may not need to go through the Planned Unit Development (PUD) process; when the developer goes before the ANC, the Commission will review the proposal and make recommendations to oppose or approve the project. It will then go to the zoning board, at which time Randolph said neighborhood support becomes very important if the project is to grow wings. As of now, the proposal outlines 6,413 s.f. retail space on the ground floor and 7,085 s.f. office space on the second floor; rising to only about 28 feet in height - not ruffling the feathers of the community. The developer will have to write a Memorandum of Understanding with the neighbors in order to dodge the parking and s.f. zoning requirements. Although the Penn Corridorians are in a position to bargain, the neighbors can’t become too bossy as the developer could easily increase the height or return the site to another KFC or other venue for fried fare. Douglas' game of chicken seems to be working, so far the neighborhood clucking has been mostly positive about the developer's intentions. The next step is for the developer to go before the ANC on June 3rd. The KFC, part of the Yum! brand of restaurants, is one of 32,500 locations in the world. Soon to be 32,499, it seems.

Washington DC commercial property news

Brookland/CUA Metro Station

The DC Office of Planning is working to complete the final draft of a plan for the redevelopment of the Brookland/CUA Metro Station and surrounding area. The OP began a study of the neighborhoods around the metro station in the fall of 2006 and said the neighborhood had been "rediscovered as a desirable place to live, work, and play" and that the neighborhood was under redevelopment pressure. With the help of Smith Group Urban Planners, the city has now divided the site into sub-areas, each with its own outline of what the community would like to see. The OP's role is to make recommendations for height, density and land usage based on neighborhood feedback.

While a final group of developers for has not yet been determined, Catholic University will be involved in the process, and WMATA will select a developer for the land included in their metro station. There is also speculation that Douglas Development will be involved. CUA, WMATA, and Douglas Development are the primary land owners and the organizations that worked with the city on the Small Area Plan.

Plans at this point remain in flux, but the OP is releasing first drafts of what the public can expect. “Our next step is the final draft. We have an outline based on community input, developers can follow it, but they don’t have to. They can develop the land by right based on zoning or submit a PUD,” said Deborah Crain, Ward 5 Planner.

According to the Executive Summary recently released, “The overall concept for the Brookland/ CUA Metro Station Area Plan proposes a neighborhood civic core and arts infrastructure surrounded by transit-oriented mixed-use development at the Metro Station, along Monroe Street, in areas along the railroad tracks north and south of the Metro Station, along a strengthened and revitalized 12th Street, Brookland’s historic Main Street.”

The plans break the area into five subdivided zones, each with its own development agenda. Below are the five areas being developed:

The Metro Station: The plan envisions a transit-oriented mixed-use development at the metro station, with 200 to 250 residential units, 30-35,000 s.f. of retail or residential space, over 200 below-grade parking spaces, and six-story buildings. This area, which is about 4-acres, will include the extension of Otis, Newton, and 9th Streets, a Kiss and Ride with short-term parking along 9th and Newton Streets, and single family residential space along 10th Street. Metro station entries would be relocated along Newton Street and public spaces for community gatherings and farmers’ markets would also be included.

Monroe Street would be featured as a “tree-lined urban street with retail, residential, and cultural uses connecting Brookland from east to west.” There would be over 700 residential units, over 80,000 s.f. of retail, restaurant, and cultural space, 650-850 below-grade parking spaces, and green space at the historic Brooks Mansion. CUA recently selected Abdo Development to develop their 9-acre South Campus on either side of Monroe Street between Michigan Avenue and the Metro. According to Toby Millman at Abdo, they are starting the PUD process.

12th Street would be revitalized as a Historic Main Street with retail, residential, and office space, and improved connectivity to the metro station along Monroe and Newton Streets. There would also be infill opportunities between Monroe and Randolph Streets, and South of Monroe Street.

The Commercial Area North of the Metro Station was outlined as a new residential and office area including 400-500 residential units in the form of condominiums, apartments, and townhouses. Neighbors would like to see 20,000 s.f. of office space and over 200 below-grade parking spaces.

The Commercial Area South of the Metro Station would include 150-200 residential units mixed with cultural uses and only 75-100 below-grade parking spaces. The Metropolitan Branch Trail would be integrated along 8th Street.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Georgia Ave. Development Takes Hold! (Sort of)

The District has announced several milestones to let you know that Georgia Avenue is really, truly, on a path toward development - and this time they mean it. After numerous initiatives and promises by previous administrations, the Fenty Folks seemed determined to get the job done. To wit, the administration announced today several items to bolster our confidence in Petworth and Brightwood:

Park Place - Donatelli Development's mixed-use project above the Petworth Metro station, has topped out, reaching its full height at seven stories. Donatelli, along with partners Gragg & Associates, Canyon Capital Realty Advisors and Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, was awarded development rights to the lot through a competitive process in 2004. 20% of the condos are mandated as "affordable." Like Highland Park apartments and Kenyon Square condos, Donatelli's projects that redefined the center of Columbia Heights, the condos were designed by Torti Gallas & Partners of Silver Spring, with sales by Washington DC-based Domus Realty. Construction is expected to complete early next year. Okay, so the topping out isn't a major news event, but at least construction hasn't stopped.

3912 Georgia Avenue - The mayor announced yesterday that a court had given clear title to the District, which will transfer the property to the Jair Lynch Development Partners. If the property sounds familiar, it may be due to frequent mention by this blog. The 130-unit apartment building, two blocks north of the Metro station, was awarded to JLC and development partner AHD Inc. (Affordable Housing Developer) by the National Capitol Revitalization Corporation (NCRC), before that organization was disbanded by the current administration. The $38 million project is being designed by EDG Architects and Frank Schlesinger Associates and will be built by Meridian Construction. Jair Lynch will provide 40% of the rental units at subsidized rates, and add 24,000 s.f. of retail space. NCRC gave Jair Lynch the land back in 2006, but it turns out that the city did not have clear title to the land.

Despite the Mayor's announcement, other issues remain, and the developer is not giving any timelines on construction yet. According to Tania Jackson of JL, clearing title was "a huge hurdle, but there are so many things that still need to happen." For one, because Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning (MIZ) - which JL supported - has not been enacted, JL must go through a 'mini-PUD' to get the density they require. The developer hopes to get the PUD done by June. (In better news for JL, they did just open sales at the Solea in Columbia Heights)

Finally, the District has just announced that it has acquired a long-vacant residential building at 6425 14th St. NW, just off Georgia Avenue. The building was referred to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs' special unit, the (somewhat Stalinist-sounding) Board for the Condemnation of Insanitary Buildings. The Tewkesbury, a 26-unit building in Brightwood, will be offered to developers for renovation, but no timelines are being offered at this time.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Todd Place Condos

Lindsay Development - Washington DC real estate - TTR
Northeast Washington DC commercial real estate for saleSPONSORED ANNOUNCEMENT

Todd Place - new condominium homes from $236,000 near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro. Todd Place is the total renovation of 3 separate apartment buildings, 302-310 Todd Place, into 12 condos, each with two bedrooms, deep walk in closets in each bedroom, vaulted ceilings, and beautifully finished interiors.

Located in the Eckington neighborhood of DC, within walking distance of the Rhode Island Ave Metro station and NoMa Metro stations, in DC's booming NoMa area, the fastest growing commercial real estate sector in the District. Off-street parking available for each unit. Interior finishes include solid bamboo floors, generously sized granite counters in the kitchen and bath, skylights on the upper floors, ceiling fans, walk-in closets in both bedrooms, and private security systems. Developed by Lindsay Development & Hillsborough Investments. Newly reduced prices range from $236,000 to $265,000. Marketing and sales by DCRE.

Washington DC retail and real estate news

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

MBT Bike Trail Construction to Resume

In an announcement that cyclists have long anticipated, the District of Columbia held a press conference this morning to proclaim the imminent construction of the MBT - the Metropolitan Branch Trail - an eight-mile bike/jogging trail that will run from Union Station to Silver Spring. In his announcement this morning, Mayor Fenty stated that the District had reached an agreement with PEPCO to donate property adjacent to the CSX railroad lines, land currently worth (they are telling the IRS) $3.3m. The new trail will connect the New York Avenue Metro to Franklin St., NE. The agreement represents a key parcel of real estate, stretching through NoMa and Eckington, and the city's resulting ability to add a crucial connector.

The MBT began as a concept in the early '90's, several segments have already been built. When completed, the MBT and its contributing paths are envisioned to run from the Mall to Silver Spring, northwest into Bethesda, where it will connect to the already completed Capital Crescent Trail. The MBT portion will later add a spur from the Ft. Totten Metro to West Hyattsville. The section of the trail announced today will connect the recently completed New York Avenue Metro station on NoMa's north end, running over Florida Avenue, under New York Avenue, and over Rhode Island Avenue at the Metro station, where the trail will take the form of roadside bike lanes until it reaches the Brookland-Catholic University Metro.

Officials involved with the project project that design work will begin immediately, with construction to start hopefully by year end. With this latest acquisition, the MBT still has numerous issues to work through at the Ft. Totten Metro station, including a land acquisition from WMATA.

Eric Gilliland, Executive Director of Washington Area Bicyclists Association, which has worked with the District in support of the trail, extolled the virtues for both bikers and Metro riders, projecting that the newest leg will increase access to the New York Avenue Metro - a station that is currently cut off by Florida and New York Avenues, an interchange Gilliland called "really terrible for pedestrians." Gilliland predicted that connecting remaining pieces within the District would take and additional two and a half to three years, but that the Silver Spring to Bethesda section was waiting on plans for the Purple Line.

DDOT will be in charge of construction. To date most of the costs have been paid for with federal dollars, though the project will undoubtedly be a boon for a few neighborhoods like Eckington that will be suddenly be connected along the the railroad tracks that once condemned them to relative isolation.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bethesda Condos Nixed by Developer

After more than four years of seeking permits and zoning approvals, Bethesda- based real estate developer Triumph Development, LLC has decided not to complete their seven-story, 53-unit condominium project at Hampden Lane and Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda. The developers received approval for "4901 Hampden Lane" in February, at which time they posted an optimistic message of progress on their website.

The project profile read, "while the residential real estate market as a whole is a bit challenging right now, we are still extremely excited about this project . . . the design and the location are that good." Apparently not quite.

But an email today from Triumph's Development Director, Michael O'Connor, to those who had expressed interest in the real estate project read, "Triumph has made the decision not to pursue our condominium project at Hampden Lane and Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda. The four-plus years that Montgomery County approvals have taken combined with the slumping residential real estate market have finally taken their toll."

Totalling about 95,000 s.f. of development, the project was to offer units ranging in size from one to four bedrooms, and was designed by Shalom Baranes Associates. Situated ideally between Woodmont Row and the Bethesda Metro, Hampden Lane had been recognized by the Washington Smart Growth Alliance.

Greyhound Bus Pulling Out of NoMa

Greyhound admitted last week that it may be on track for a departure. The inter-city bus company acknowledged its intention to sell its main DC station at 1005 First Street in the center of the NoMa development hotbed. While little has been finalized and Greyhound is hardly commenting, several sources say it will sell off its terminal and move several blocks south to Union Station. CB Richard Ellis Inc. is reportedly marketing the site.

“The property is on the market, Greyhound is interested in selling and consolidating to Union Station,” said Elizabeth Price, President of the NoMa BID. “I think it’s a great thing, it makes sense to leverage a great public transportation hub like Union Station and make it truly multi-modal. It also opens prime site on First Street for development that’s more consist with what is coming to the neighborhood.” The site takes up most of the block that borders L Street, and which is bisected by the railroad lines.

Price said sale of the property was “bound to happen.” She said other community leaders and developers would be pleased to have the site move towards re-development and join the surrounding flurry of retail, residential and mixed-use construction projects.

Greyhound, however, maintains that we should not get our hopes up. Spokesman Eric Wesley wouldn’t give a timeline or any details about how it would merge into Union Station, and maintained that nothing has been finalized.

“There have been no final agreements. We are still in talks with Union Station, but we don’t want to say that’s what we will do. We’ve had talks for 20 years. It’s hard to say which way the talks will go. There is no timeline,” Wesley said. Greyhound is currently the largest inter-city bus service in the country.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bowen YMCA Update

Five buildings in the 2200 block of 14th Street (2203, 2205, 2207, 2209, 2211) were approved for demolition by the DC Historic Planning Board as part of the new Anthony Bowen YMCA and 14W project by DC-based developer Perseus Realty, LLC and YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. As DCMud reported in May of last year, at the project's completion, 1325 W Street will include a new YMCA facility (45,000 s.f.), 229 rental apartments, and 12,000 s.f. of retail space in a project that will border 14th and W Streets. Construction will begin at the 1325 W Street site in September with completion scheduled two years later in 2010.

According to Perseus, legislation was passed to close part of the alley between the townhouses and the existing YMCA, and Perseus has already received HPRB approval. The facades of the townhouses and the front forty feet of each structure will be preserved as historic structures.

“We are filing for certain permits, which takes a while and we are in the final stages of working drawings, so we’re positioning it to get started,” said Robert Cohen, President of Perseus Realty, LLC.

The project was designed by Hellmuth, Obata, & Kassabaum and Dorsky Hodgson & Partners, the developers have also hired Bozzuto to oversee leasing and management of the residential component.

NoMa East: Progress Waits

The other side of the tracks is always the problem real estate. And so even in NoMa, DC's largest real estate construction site, the west side of the railroad tracks are packed with groundbreakings like Tishman's 1100 and 1150 First Street, JBG's Capitol Square, Bristol Group's Noma Station, and StonebridgeCarras' Constitution Square, and newly announced tenants like Harris Teeter, the DOJ, DOE, and NPR. But east of the tracks, development moves at a much more, well, southernly pace. The east side has not failed to attract either experienced developers or ambitious plans. But so far, little has materialized to signal the progress that is likely to transform the neighborhood - even if that term barely applies now - into a viable commercial and residential center. Even the feature that divides the two sides, the tracks that emanate from Union Station, will eventually disappear beneath the urban landscape as Akridge's Burnham Place unifies the neighborhood and buries the current boundary. In 2013, maybe. For the present, however, most developers with east-of-the-tracks plots seem content to let their west side neighbors build out the new downtown neighborhood while they consider options and hone their plans. “Most of NoMa is on the west side of the tracks, but a few key parcels are on the east side that are a key link from the historic Capitol Hill to the new neighborhood. It is important to have that bridge,” said Elizabeth Price, President of NoMa BID. One block east of the tracks, the Wilkes Company has plans for a mixed-use set of buildings with over 300 residences and 250,000 s.f. of office space just across M street from Douglas Development's 300,000-s.f. office, 225-residence development of the Uline Arena. The two intend to develop their projects jointly, but both have yet to even put up a sign.

According to Sandy Wilkes, Chairman of the Wilkes Company, "We are still in a planning phase and we're trying to understand exactly what the opportunity is in that place and what zoning strategies we might deploy to bring this about. It is still early for us, our general instinct is that there is going to be a natural tendency for NoMa to develop more actively on west side. We have the luxury of being patient on the east side, but our sense is that while Constitution Square and other projects are underway, the real time for us is in a two to three year time frame. We are constantly thinking about fine-tuning and timing. We are going to let our friends and colleagues on the west side lead the way and then get way more focused in 24 -36 months." Also facing each other, at least someday, at 3rd and K Streets, NE, will be Greenbaum and Rose's Capitol Cab property and Cohen Companies' Union Place, planned as part of the NoMa development surge. And while the G 'N R site sits indefinitely, Union Place at least is forging ahead.

Michelle Pilon, project coordinator for Cohen Companies’ “Loree Grand” says Phase One of Union Place is on schedule to deliver in late 2009 and the team is in the process of getting a foundation grade permit so it can begin construction.

The Loree Grand will include 212 apartments in a ten-story building, some of which will be workforce housing; eleven percent will be "affordable." In addition to the residential components, this phase will include an interior public courtyard, 4,000 s.f. of retail space, one underground parking space per resident, and a “green” roof.

The residential floor plans of the first phase will range from junior one-bedroom units starting at 516 s.f. to 1,400-s.f. apartments with two bedroom and a den. Phase two will rise 14 stories and deliver over 400 residential units, though the inevitable rental vs. condo debate has not yet been settled. Developers are already planning to install wide sidewalks to create a "boulevard effect." Meanwhile, Greenebaum and Rose is waiting on a sunnier economy. For Greenebaum and Rose, instead of the traditional “go rental” approach to the less-than-stellar market, the developers' project on the former Capitol Cab property is on hold. The developers bought the land at market price in 2003 after winning a legal battle over a competing developer that sought to buy the cab company’s debt, pay $50,000 for the land, and have the right to foreclose on the cab company’s owners’ homes.

Greenebaum and Rose’s current plan will cost over $20 million and include a six story, 92,800-s.f. residential building designed by Davis Carter Scott. It will have 112 condominium units and underground parking. Someday. “Nothing has been built,” said Greenebaum and Rose partner, Sam Rose. “For now, it’s a piece of land with a permit. We’re not starting until the world looks prettier.”

Noma BID Director Price said their property will only become more valuable as the neighborhood continues to evolve. “Long standing parcels are going up in market value; Greyhound announced that they would sell, and that was one of last pieces of puzzle, whether Greenebaum and Rose would sell, I don’t know. They’ve been around longer than anybody and we owe a lot to them to committing to building First Street. The developers’ options are wide open," she said.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Square 54 Breaks Ground

Square 54, built on land owned by George Washington University and leased by Boston Properties, a retail-oriented mixed use development in DC
Square 54 (The Avenue) a new mixed use, retail center project in Foggy Bottom by Boston Properties on the GWU campus
With blue shovels in hand, George Washington University officials broke ground this morning on the greatly anticipated and hotly debated Square 54 project on Washington Circle. At its delivery in 2011, the $250 million mixed-use project in Foggy Bottom will include 333 residential units, 13% of which will be work-force housing, 440,000 s.f. of office space overlooking Washington Circle, an open central courtyard and retail plaza on I Street, over 80,000 s.f. of retail space (including the supermarket that has students salivating), and over 1,000 underground parking spaces. “Is it possible that this is the best mixed-use project in the city? I say yes,” Chairman of GW’s Board of Trustees, Russell Ramsey said. “This is about the vision for GW in ten years, in twenty years,” he said. 

A partnership between GWU and Boston Properties, the 2.6-acre former GW Hospital site is, as Mayor Adrian Fenty noted in yet another groundbreaking appearance this morning, the last major development site on Pennsylvania Avenue. The developers have entered into a 60-year ground lease for the redevelopment effort; Square 54 is part of a three-part development initiative that includes the campus 20-year “grow up, not out” plan and the redevelopment of The School Without Walls.Square 54 is the future home of the Avenue, a retail centered project by Boston Properties on Washington Circle in Foggy Bottom Jack Evans, Council- member of Ward 2, said the project, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, LLP and Sasaki and Associates, would bring in $12 million a year in tax revenues for the city and benefit not only the university, but also the Foggy Bottom community. While there is a history of tension between residence-hungry GW and its development-resisting neighbors, at this morning’s rainy groundbreaking, GW officials spun it optimistically, saying that the development was a positive for everyone in Foggy Bottom and welcomed neighbors in attendance. Robert Chernak, a GW official, told DCMud this morning “Beyond the project itself, the impact it has really had is on the relationship with people in the community. There was some negativity. This is finally bringing the parties together to have rational dialogue and bring together all involved. It’s about people effected in the long term.” 

 The Avenue retailers include Whole Foods, Burger Tap & Shake, Circa at Foggy Bottom, Roti and SweetgreenSaid GWU President, Steven Knapp“Square 54 is a shining example of what GW and the city can accomplish when we work together. It represents the importance of sustainable practices and has been recognized by the Smart Growth Alliance. It will enliven the streetscape. It was thoughtfully conceived to contribute to the open space of the city.” As DCmud reported last year, GW was asked to revise the height and density of the proposed building, and the National Capital Planning Commission recommended that the Commission approve the revised proposal in April 2007. And no, a grocer has not yet been selected for the retail space.

Washington DC retail development news

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wheaton Metro Projects

Wheaton's profile has never been sufficiently distinct to stand out against its neighbors to the south, lacking a strong downtown and well defined borders. But now several teams are hoping to make area more of a destination.

Construction is well underway for Bozzuto Development and Torti Gallas and Partners' mixed-use project at the Red Line’s Wheaton Metro station. Located at 11175 Georgia Avenue in Maryland, Metro Pointe will include 2,000 s.f. of ground retail below 173 rental apartments which will be a mixture of lofts and single story units. Residents will have traditional amenities such as a business center, courtyard terraces, and a walking park, and less traditional features like direct elevator access to the Metro, an uncommon convenience in DC.

“It will be five buildings connected together, the main building on Georgia and Reedie Drive is brick with Hardipanel…When you get to Amherst drive it turns into townhouses,” said Project Manager Mark Weisner at Bozzuto. He added that Fed Ex Kinkos and a small convenience store will occupy the retail space.

While the Georgia Avenue project is underway and scheduled for completion in the third quarter of this year, Bozzuto’s other - more ambitious -project with Spaulding & Slye Investments, is still being conceived, it may soon take shape down the street where Georgia Avenue and Veirs Mill Road intersect.

Still in the planning and documentation stage, the Metro Plaza at Wheaton Square on Georgia Avenue may begin construction in the second half of next year; the mixed-use project will include over 400,000 s.f. of Class A office space, street-level retail, residential units planned as apartments, a Metro bus terminal, and parking for 500 cars. Planned at the intersection of Reedie Drive, and Veirs Mill, the project's backers expect the development to redefine Weaton's 'city center'.

The project is still not much more than a rendering (see above) - a representative at the company jokingly asked DCMud to tell them what was happening at the site - Bonstra Haresign Architects’ website says the project will have “an 11-story, 300,000 square foot commercial tower, a 10-story, 130,000 square foot residential building, 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail along Georgia Avenue, and 5 levels of above-grade structured parking.”

The project will have access to the Metro tunnel under Georgia Avenue on the north side of the site and to a pedestrian bridge at the west side of the site.

As Bill Bonstra said to DCMud in January, “Georgia Avenue is an unbelievable mix of land use... And the Wheaton area is coming in right on the coattails of the revitalization of Silver Spring. It was only a matter of time for development to move north as it had done from the west.” How much time, we just can't say.

Wheaton Maryland real estate development news

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hill East - Another Day, Another Waterfront Initiative

A Request for Expressions of Interest was officially issued today by the District of Columbia to attract a master developer for "Hill East," 50 acres of real estate on the former D.C. General Hospital site and Anacostia River. Hill East is one of three major redevelopment sites that make up the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, a 20 year plan to turn the Anacostia River into a thriving residential, commercial and retail center, not to mention place of recreation for D.C. residents. At a press conference this morning at the Stadium-Armory Metro Station, Mayor Adrian Fenty said developers are invited to submit proposals through August. A three month review period will follow, and the selected developer will be announced at the end of the year with major District-developer planning starting in early 2009.
Fenty stated that “The RFEI process is underway and we look forward to announcing a developer whose plan complements what is already here on site and takes advantage of the opportunities of the river. We want the development to serve as a gateway between Capitol Hill and the Waterfront so people can walk down to the Anacostia River, which is hard to do now." As if you would want to.

The Hill East site, which is two and a half times bigger than the development at the old convention center, is intended to be a low-impact, LEED certified mixed-use development. The project will include residential, retail, and office components and will extend Massachusetts Avenue and other streets within the site to tie the new neighborhood into the existing community; including, apparently, the correctional facility, which will remain on site. Councilmember Tommy Wells, D-Ward 6, said the District envisions some sort of “health plex”, which could range from doctors’ offices to a specialized treatment facility, but that the decision is a long way off.
According to the RFEI, the development could result in “up to 3,000 new housing units, over 2 million square feet of office and institutional uses, new primary care medical facilities, and over 100,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.”

“It will be a truly mixed-use project,” said Deputy Mayor Neil Albert. “There is a great need for affordable housing in the District. There is a need for a health-plex, and because there are two metro stops [DCmud is still trying to locate the 2nd one], it will be good for office space, maybe some offices that are being forced out of the downtown area because of increasing lease prices,” he said.

“The more we bring to the waterfront, the more time people will want to spend there. We already have a bike path underway. We need to embrace the river as a community asset,” said Wells. Both Wells and Fenty pointed out the need to reduce the pollution in the river and to work with Maryland, the state through which the majority of the river runs. They both said part of the project’s goal is to make the river suitable for canoing and even swimming (cringe).
“It has been a dumping ground for too long. People say ‘who would want to live by the river?’ but what is possible here is a new neighborhood – the Anacostia River as an amenity,” Wells said.

The site is bounded by 19th street, Independence Avenue, the Anacostia River, and the Historic Congressional Cemetery. The entire site is 67 acres, but development will take place on only 50 of those. The land, known as Reservation 13, is technically owned by the General Service Administration, but was given to the District under the 2006 Federal and District of Columbia Government Real Property Act of 2006, a “Transfer Act”. As DCmud reported in April of last year, 12 acres of the property were to be given back to the Federal government for a congressional mail facility. According to Fenty, the District is now looking for an alternative site for this facility and it will not be part of the Hill East development.
For those worried (or happy) about losing their Anacostia River views, maximum building heights for the west portion of the site will be a towering four stories, the central portion, a skyscraping seven stories, and the eastern portion will rise to a stratospheric 10 stories. That's sarcasm, in case you missed it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dunbar Place on North Capitol

The Historic Preservation Office has approved the razing of six adjoining row houses: 1322-30 North Capitol Street, NW and 7 Hanover Place, NW, to make way for Thoron Development's Dunbar Place, a five-story condominium building.

Thoron founder Robert Taylor describes Dunbar Place as a five-story, 29-unit condominium project that will include a deck of underground parking, ground-level green space, and a rooftop deck. Having completed the design phase of Dunbar Place with PGN Architects, Thoron now moves into the permit process, after which it will begin construction, with completion by the end of 2009. Taylor hopes that Dunbar Place and Mews will augment the blossoming NoMa neighborhood and notes that neighbors and the local ANC feel likewise.

Dunbar Place used to be Dunbar Towers, but Thoron recently dropped the name. As Taylor notes, “It didn’t really look like a tower.” Dunbar Mews, around the corner on O Street, is another Thoron project, this one an eight-unit renovation. Thoron recently completed Parkview Condos, a 24-unit renovation of a historic building at 610 Irving St., NW.

Just a few blocks north of the new project, at 1600 North Capitol, sits a lot with plans for a 40-unit building, where progress on and interest in the development is hard to detect, while just a few blocks south lies Northwest One and all of Noma, where progress is significantly easier to detect. Let's hope the activity to the south is a better indicator of success.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Howard Issues RFP for Bond Bread Building

Howard University has issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) for real estate developers to submit bids for a "first-class, mixed-use development" at 2112-2146 Georgia Avenue. Part of the 2.2 acre site at the corner of V St. and Georgia Avenue, the Howard Town Center, was offered to Howard by the District of Columbia just two weeks ago in an exchange designed to facilitate Howard's residential development, and the University obviously plans to waste little time in moving forward with development of the neighborhood.

The project is the site of the Bond Bread Building, a property long contested by its one-time tenant, which lost a legal battle for control of the land. According to the RFP, the development "must include rental apartments, retail (including grocery store) and parking," and is strongly suggested to be LEED certified. Though the site has a maximum floor area ratio (or FAR, which limits the amount of floor space in relation to the size of the lot it is built upon) of 6.0 and a height of 90 feet, but also falls within the districts "Duke plan" (for developing Shaw and U Street), which encourages greater height and FAR allowances. The project is expected to have 300 rental units that will comply with D.C.'s formula for market rate and affordable housing. A mandatory pre-bid conference will be held at Howard on May 15th to discuss the project, the terms of which require that the real estate developer enter into a long-term ground lease with the University and undertake all development obligations. Bids are due by June 10.


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