Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Future of Washington DC Transportation

One year after Gabe Klein took the helm at the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), the District agency has a brand new website, an aggressive two-year plan and a progressive approach to transportation. Yesterday, DDOT Director Klein invited several transportation bloggers to discuss the agency's progress during his first year, and plans going forward. By 2012 DDOT aims to more than double the 2009 bicycle road share, add 250 car-share vehicles, increase Circulator ridership by 47 percent, add six more "performance" parking districts and have 2.75 miles of operating streetcar lines. Yes, he went there: operating streetcars.

Klein described an agency embracing a culture shift, one that focuses on sustainability, safety and open communication. A new website, along with DDOT's social networking presence, are part of it's outreach to inform DC residents of the agency's services down to online plans about what DDOT has planned for their neighborhood and commute.

The DDOT Director is optimistic and confident that DC will resolve issues facing overhead wires for the planned 37 miles of streetcars through a combination of technology and, of course, compromise with transportation's other stakeholders - the National Capital Planning Commission, the Capitol Hill Restoration Society and the Committee of 100, among others.

Klein says the open dialogue has narrowed the wire issue to the North-South "viewshed" of the Capitol. Klein said he was determined to make streetcars happen and eliminate unnecessary overhead wires. At the same time, he's asking streetcar opponents to rethink the boundaries for overhead wires and to maybe allow them along areas of H Street to Benning Road.

There's also the matter of disguising wires. Klein said he took a trip with several BID directors and Marcel Acosta, Executive Director of NCPC, to see the streetcars in Portland, Oregon, which Klein said fit seamlessly into the transportation flow, with wires hidden by a canopy of trees. Klein joked that he even has a photo of Acosta smiling with an overhead wire dangling in the background.

On the technology side, Klein said he is working with United Streetcar, maker of the first American streetcar manufactured in the U.S. in 50 years, to develop hybrid solutions for power. Right now the cars can travel up to 1/4 mile just on battery power, but Klein hopes to get that number up to 1 mile by working with the company to developer a lithium ion battery. Klein is applying for federal funding to pay for the new batteries, and anticipates, with rapid changes in battery technology, that the cars could eventually run up to 2 miles on battery power alone. Like a Prius, with better brakes. Announcements about the streetcar project timing should come in the next few months.

Beyond the streetcar, Klein is seeking innovative solutions at every level of the agency. A Maintenance and Operations contract will be going out to bid soon, in which DDOT will ask for creative solutions that address the agency's needs. "Free consulting" from the private sector, said Klein.

Then there are changes coming to parking meters in pilot programs throughout the city; new solar-powered meters allow payment by coins or by credit card, "so people don't carry 16 quarters for two hours" said Klein. Since their inception, 52% of patrons started using credit cards, and in the study area DDOT has seen a 30% increase in parking revenue. Klein said of the pilot, "revenues are up, people seem to love it" but that he was not ready to say it was a definite success until he knew more about the machines' reliability. Another parking change is the pay-for-performance areas - which DDOT hopes to increase to eight by 2012 - where pricing for parking is based on demand. Klein admitted that testing this out in the ballpark district might not have been the best decision, but that the agency is expanding the concept to new areas to continue to test its effectiveness.

The new website is a good resource for residents to maneuver the various responsibilities of DDOT and to learn how to maneuver the streets of DC in ever-expanding ways. If DDOT gets its way, District residents in 2012 will have a markedly different transportation scene.

Washington DC real estate development news

Alexandria Live/Work Project Sees Delays

A frozen development project, evidenced by the snow-covered concrete slab at 2707-2711 Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria, is showing signs of thawing now that construction may start again this spring. Alexandria's The Lofts at Del Ray Village, a three-story, 14,096 s.f. development, was supposed to resuscitate the vacant lot beginning last May. Almost a year later, the foundation is poured, but the rest of the live/work project remains incomplete. Now developer/architect Gaver Nichols says, the project could get back on track within the next two months and could complete by the end of 2010.

The problems began about six months ago when a local lender suddenly lost its enthusiasm for all things real estate. That left Nichols and his development partners with a poured foundation and no financing to go beyond that. Nichols says carefully that "the project is moving slowly due to financial constraints" but that he and his partners are raising collateral and doing everything they can to begin building. "I have been working on this site for almost ten years, since I approached the guy about the dirt," said Nichols, "it's a labor of love."

The Lofts’ top two floors will be four, two-bedroom units, ranging in size from 2,053 to 2,949 s.f. The ground-floor will include 4,500 square feet of office space (plus basements), giving tenants the opportunity to work from home, though they will not be required to use the commercial space. Last May, Nichols described the project: “Conceptually, it’s like the traditional neighborhood warehouse that’s been renovated with a modern top." Except this is brand new construction - an entirely different ball game- and architect Nichols has earned his development stripes during a difficult time for even an established developer.

Alexandria real estate development news

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Restaurant and Lofts Coming to Heart of Dupont

Look for a new mixed-use development in Dupont Circle as soon as spring of 2011. The building, 1737 Connecticut Avenue, NW, formerly Anna Maria's Italian Restaurant, will soon transform into a new restaurant on two floors with four loft condos above. The owner, 1737 Connecticut Avenue Associates, LLC, bought the property this past June for $2.8 million. Architect FORMDesign Group has been working closely with the Dupont community, quickly making design changes as needed. This week the team received approval from the Dupont ANC2B, which deferred to the conditional approval of the Dupont Circle Conservancy. The team will now present the design to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB), which will likely approve the project based on the recommendations in the staff report.

FORM will add a partial sixth story and bump out several floors of the historic structure, expanding the 7,300 s.f. space into an 11,000 s.f. mixed-use development. The Dupont Conservancy concerns forced a change to the set back of the sixth floor, originally planned to be 30 feet, now expanded to 52 feet to avoid visibility from the street and nearby intersections, leaving only the issue of the sidewalk canopy. Though already in place, the Conservancy requested that it be removed, and with that caveat gave approval to the height and massing.

The lofts will likely be 1,800 s.f. condo units on the third through sixth floors. In order to provide additional square footage, the third through fifth floors will be extended 12 feet to the rear. The design also calls for an elevator, which will have to be concealed from street level with any necessary equipment. Dario Davies, CEO of MasterBuilt and Principal at FORMDesign, said the group is currently negotiating with several interested restaurateurs to take the spot on the first two floors.

The HPRB approval expected this week will cover the height and massing, then its on to the remaining design and permitting, a process that could take another 6 months. With Davies expecting an 8 month build-out, the project could be ready by early next year.

UPDATE: A new rendering has been added to the story as of 03/01/2010.

Washington, DC real estate development and retail news

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Townhouse-Style Condos for U Street

A lot at the corner of Vermont Avenue and T Street, NW, in the heart of the U Street neighborhood, is about to get an infusion of six new condos in three townhouse-style buildings. The two-over-two units, sitting almost on top of the U Street Metro station, will range from approximately 2,000 s.f. to 2,400 s.f. with two floors for each unit. The three lots are part of a larger parcel that was once home to a four-story apartment building, "The Cameron," which was built in 1899 and destroyed in a fire in the 1960's. The new condos will be a huge improvement over the site's use as a parking lot for the neighboring Masonic Temple.

The three upper units with have roof top terraces, all will have one private parking space, two of which will be private attached garages. Two of the houses (four units) will face T Street and one will front Vermont Avenue. Mimicking the style of the neighborhood, the Lessard Group designs take their form from Queen Anne and Romanesque architecture; the corner of Vermont and T Street will likely feature a tower that conforms to the many existing historic homes in the surrounding community. The matter-of-right development will go before the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) this week and received an approval in the HPRB staff report.

Developer Derek Huetinck said a date for construction has not been scheduled, but he is filing for permits and hoping to begin by the end of this year. In a best case scenario the units could deliver in the first half of 2011. Huetinck said he was "unsure of final sales prices for the units at this time" and that the project "likely will not open for sales until after construction has begun."

The site was formerly the proposed home of Evanti Condos, a 14-unit project by Macy Development and the Masonic Temple, which owned the land, but which never broke ground. Huetinck obtained the properties under his project entity T Street Builders, LLC in November 2009 for $770,000.

Washington DC real estate development news

Monday, February 22, 2010

Senate Square Sold At Auction

The 432-unit Senate Square apartment building on the 200 block of I Street, NE, sold this afternoon at auction for more than $121,000,000 to its "mezz" lender. The sole bidder, VII I Street Mezz Lender, LLC (the "Secured Party") nodded at the opening bid of $1 million, which had to be paid on top of the outstanding $120 million note plus accrued mortgage interest and fees. VII I Street Mezz Lender, LLC was listed as a mezzanine lender on the property in the auction notice. The bid was the only one placed on the troubled property. Developed by New York-based Broadway Development and designed by architect Philip Esocoff, the property went into receivership in October 2009 after an aborted attempt at condo sales and a slow start at leasing.

Attorney for the secured party, Stephen Meister of the New York-based firm Meister Seelig & Fein, LLP, indicated he was uncertain how the purchase would affect management of the building.

Washington, DC real estate development news

82 Years Later, Hay Adams Tops Out

After 82 years in service, the Hay Adams Hotel on Lafayette Square is reportedly nearly ready to add another floor to accommodate a restaurant. If plans are approved, the Hay Adams will offer what would easily be the best dining views over the White House, giving neighboring W a run for its money. The hotel already boasts an impressive view over the White House and onto the Mall from its position on the northern end of Lafayette Park.

The 145-room Hay Adams was purchased by BF Saul in 2006 for a reported $690,000 per room, and received a great PR boost when President-Elect Obama and family took up residence there in the weeks prior to inauguration.

Sources say the hotel is close to final approval for concept, which required sanctioning by the DC and federal governments, and of course the Secret Service, which will one day run all of Washington DC.

The Hay Adams was designed by Mihran Mesrobian and built in 1928 on the site of the homes of Henry Adams and John Hay, the latter a personal secretary to Abraham Lincoln and later Secretary of State.

Washington DC real estate development news

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Del Ray Residences to Open Soon

Alexandria's newest residential building is almost complete, as the developer puts the final touches on Mt. Vernon Commons, a 141-unit apartment building in Del Ray. By April, developer Mount Vernon Commons, LLC hopes to finish the "neo-contemporary" building at the intersection of Mt. Vernon and Commonwealth Avenues for a spring opening.

The apartments replaced 11 commercial
spaces, for which it will partially atone by adding a small retail space to the ground floor. Though originally conceived as green condominium, the developer is not pursuing LEED certification for the project, which will consist of leased apartments rather than for-sale condos. The three to four-story wood-framed superstructure will sit on top of a two-level parking garage. To enhance the design, the developer is also planning a public art piece at the intersection.

According to architect Jim Heffner of Heffner Architects, "the biggest challenge of the project was the site itself," sitting on a narrow wedge of land with a 20-foot change in elevation, peaking at 100 feet in width, that had to accommodate a triangular cut-out in the middle. A townhouse design will help the project transition away from the adjacent single family residences, and the facade will incorporate "metal skin components unique to wood framed buildings."

The residences were devised by Carr Homes, which later sold the project to its current owner, a process which entailed significant delay in its delivery. Heffner is also the architect of Penrose Square and Rhodes Hill Square, both now under construction. Clark Builders Group is the general contractor.

Alexandria Virginia real estate development news

Friday, February 19, 2010

Making Metro Pretty(ish)

Two metro stations will soon get a much needed touch of culture when the public art, approved at Thursday's Metro Board of Directors meeting, is installed. Farragut West and Takoma Metro stations will get new art installations as Metro tries to encourage ridership, make the commute a little less drab and support the arts.

The south entrance of Farragut West (17th and I Streets NW) will get its cultural infusion from artist Michael Sirvet, whose work was recently featured in DC's Artomatic. The artist designed low-relief "botanically inspired" aluminum and LED light sculptures to light the walls at the top of the escalator. The art at Farragut West will be funded by the DC Arts Commission and the Golden Triangle BID, WMATA will pay for upkeep.

The Takoma art work will be on display at the Metro's underpass. Artist Sam Gilliam created an abstract mosaic tile mural, which the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities will fund and donate to WMATA. There will be no costs to metro for the upkeep of the Takoma installation. Metro worked with the partner organizations to select the winning pieces that will be featured in the District.

Washington DC real estate development news

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Transforming Tysons?

Fairfax planners want to flip the image you have of Tysons Corner on its head, transforming a commercial district with acres of traffic, where cars are a must, into a pedestrian friendly, mixed-use residential zone with less congestion and more public transit. In the most recent Tysons Corner Urban Center Draft Plan, planners detail how they will accomplish this makeover, hoping to piggyback on the four planned metro stops on the Silver Line that will fall within the Tysons environs. The plans are ambitious, but then the County is giving itself a forty year time frame for implementing these new strategies.

Today's Tysons has over 100,000 jobs but only 17,000 residents, which translates into Tysons' ubiquitous traffic. Planners hope that encouraging high density mixed-use development within walking distance of future metro stations will mean 100,000 residents and 200,000 jobs, or four jobs per household rather than the current ration of almost 6 to 1. Brian Worthy, Public Information Officer for Fairfax, said the goal is to "make [Tysons] a real place and not just a suburban office park."

The new proposed standards include maximum floor-area ratio (FAR) of 4.75 within one-eighth of a mile of the Metro stop and should be "developed primarily with multi-family housing." In the transit-oriented districts, planners recommend phasing the intensity, so developments from the one-eighth mark to the one-fourth mark will be allowed an FAR of 2.75 and those developments in the one-fourth to one-half mile mark a 2.0 FAR. The greater density closer to the metro would theoretically reduce car usage.

Slightly contentious elements of the draft plan are the proposed density bonuses for developers willing to build to LEED standards. Green bonuses come on top of more traditional bonuses for affordable housing or open public space. "For example, if a developer obtained a 20 percent density bonus for offering 20 percent affordable housing, the additional bonus for LEED certification would be for 10 percent of the resulting density cap, for a total bonus of 32 percent." Some think that's pretty dense - especially when you consider the initial 4.75 FAR. To put it in perspective in the"core area" of Tysons where you find Tysons Corner Center and Galleria at Tysons, the current FAR ranges from 1.0 to 1.65. But Worthy said "density really is the key incentive for development." Worthy added the community has been involved from the beginning in the vision and planning process; the public has had and will continue to have ample opportunity to give feedback on the plan.

To deal with the congestion and car-laden roads, planners suggest reworking superblocks to create a grid system with more streets and to improve connections to major transitways. The draft also recommends creating a new circulator system and local bus routes to serve the Tysons area. The plan suggests creating multi-modal hubs near the metro stations that offer car sharing, bike storage and bus service to allow residents to get to and from their destinations without cars. Just last month the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors authorized the Department of Transportation to apply for a grant from the Federal Transit Administration to support an Urban Circulator Program.

At next week's Planning Commission, Tysons Committee meeting staff will present the Draft Zoning Ordinance Amendment and the Tysons Task Force will provide comments on the Draft Plan Amendment. The public will have two opportunities to comment on the plan, on March 11th and 17th. Worthy said tentatively the Board of Supervisors could approve the plan as soon as this spring. From that point, "it's up to the developers and the market to take advantage of the opportunities" available in Tysons.

Tysons Corner real estate development news

Corcoran Sells Randall School

Yesterday, the Corcoran College of Art and Design announced the sale of the former Randall School for $6.5 million to Telesis Corporation and CACB Holdins LLC. Don and Mera Rubell, owners of CACB, will convert the school at 65 I Street, SW, into a contemporary art museum, hotel and private residence (s?). Corcoran originally purchased the Randall School in November 2006 for $6.2 million to build another College campus, but the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers forced Monument Realty, Corcoran's then development partner, to "default" in September 2008, according to a Corcoran spokesman. The sale means Corcoran will begin the search again for another location in the District for extending the College's campus.

According to a press release from Corcoran, the new owners, the Rubell Family, are hoteliers and collectors of contemporary art. The southwest museum will serve as a satellite of the Rubell's Miami museum. Corcoran estimates the purchase and sales agreement for the school will take 12 to 18 months for government review and approval.

Corcoran's previous designs by Shalom Baranes Architects included two nine-story residential towers with 420 units of housing and 100,000 s.f. of college facilities. Last month Kristin Guiter, Manager of Media Relations for Corcoran, told DCMud "the Corcoran has entered into negotiations with a potential development partner" and was seeking a PUD extension, which the ANC approved. Today Guiter said that after almost a year and a half of looking for a development partner, it became clear it just would not be "financially feasible." Guiter indicated the College put the property on the market a few months ago and are now working on a partnership with the Rubells where Corcoran will likely still be involved in programming for the planned museum.

In January,
ANC 6D Commissioner David Sobelsohn told DCMud "we in the community are anxious to get this project underway. We're very concerned that this building has been sitting vacant and empty all this time." It looks like the community will get something at Randall, just not what it was expecting.

Adams Row Condominiums

Adams Row is a loft-style building jointly developed by PN Hoffman and Adams Investment Group (AIG). Condos originally started selling from $325,000 for open and contemporary loft-style condos. Located just off the main strip of Adams Morgan, the 70,000 s.f. condominium is home to 68 units, with features such as granite countertops, marble baths, stainless steel appliances, and polished chrome fixtures. An underground garage offers parking; most of the units are economically sized, squeezing an extra bedroom into a small space. Architectural design by Georgetown-based Hickok Cole featured a post tension concrete structure with an industrial look on the interiors, and a mixture of brick and glass curtainwall in the facade. Adams Row completed in 2005; sales began in 2004 and sold out in 2006.

Post your comments about Adams Row below:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Constitution Square Signs Retailers

Retailer, StonebridgeCarras, Noma, Constitution Square, Clark Construction, retail for lease Washington DCNoMa's Constitution Square is filling in nicely. After securing Harris Teeter last year to occupy 50,000 s.f., StonebridgeCarras, Constitution Square's developer, announced the signing of five more retail leases today. A diverse group of tenants will occupy an additional 17,000 s.f., coming online to serve the 5,000 new employees headed for NoMa this year, as well as residents of the 750 apartments set to finish later in the year. TD Bank will be NoMa’s first StonebridgeCarras, Noma, Constitution Square, Clark Construction, retail for lease Washington DCfull-service banking facility with a 5,200 s.f. space. Feeding hungry workers will be Potbelly's and Constitution CafĂ©. Keeping them awake will be the responsibility of Tynan Coffee & Tea, which already operates in Columbia Heights. And adding a bit of starch, Georgetown Valet drycleaners are beefing up with yet another store added to its many throughout the District. All retailers are expected to open later this year. Accordingly, Harris Teeter is poised to begin interior upfit of its SK&I Architects-designed store, making it the first grocery store in NoMa. The chain is currently seeking a general contractor to build the interior and should make a selection by the end of February. Clark Construction, the General Contractor for the entire Constitution Square project, is scheduled to finish the exterior and the core of the 50,000 s.f. space in time to turn it over to Harris Teeter for interior construction in late March or early April. According to Glen Thomson of Harris Teeter, the store at the corner of First and M Streets, NE, might open as early as November. The grocery chain signed a 20-year lease for the site with Stonebridge in 2009. The District is providing a tax incentive to assist with the cost of providing 150 parking spaces for the Harris Teeter store, as it did with the DC USA Center in Columbia Heights. The two-phase Constitution Square project kicked off in April of 2008 and will eventually include a 206-room Hilton hotel, 440 apartments, and 340,000 s.f. of office space. 

Washington, DC real estate and development news

Federal Transit Grants: K Street Loses, Maryland Wins

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced today the recipients of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants. The DC area received just under $59 million in funding for Priority Bus Transit in the National Capital Region, to be distributed among the District, Maryland and Virginia. The estimated total project cost is $83 million for the proposed priority bus transit project. A DOT press release indicated the agency had received 1,400 applications from across the country, requesting funding for almost $60 billion worth of projects – 40 times the amount available through the program. According to the DOT, the DC area project will provide more efficient bus service along 13 transit corridors.

The big loser for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is the K Street Redesign. DDOT Spokesperson, John Lisle confirmed for DCMud, "it does not appear any funding was awarded for the K Street Transitway." In September, DDOT officials told DCMud that the proposed K St Redesign will cost $139 million, which the agency hoped to cover entirely with TIGER funds. The District had gone as far as designing options and, just this January, selected a winning design. The redesign was a "sub-package" of the proposed priority bus corridors and was excluded from the approved grant. Lisle did not seem too discouraged saying he expects "there will be other opportunities to apply for federal funding for those projects, which we will pursue."

Though the funds will be distributed among the three entities in the National Capital Region, it would initially appear that Virginia will gain the lion's share with Maryland trailing in second place. A large portion of Maryland's funds will go to the Takoma/Langley Transit center, which will be built at the intersection of University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue just on the border of Maryland's Montgomery and Prince George's Counties. According to the DOT, the new center will provide "more efficient and timely access to economically distressed populations." According to Lisle, some priority bus corridors in the District will receive funding from the regional grant. Lisle added that the funding DC received is a "sizable piece of the pie, considering how many requests were made across the country."

DC also applied for TIGER grants that would fund metro improvements and bike sharing programs. Neither request received funding.

Washington DC real estate development news

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Habitat Builds Condos in NOVA

Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia is completing a 9-unit condo project, its second multi-family project in Fairfax. Though the non-profit builder is known for its single-family homes, the Maple Ridge, just off Lee Highway, sits next to the 12-unit Westbrook Forest condo, which Habitat completed in 2007. Construction on Maple Ridge began in January 2009 and the dedication and handing over of keys will be on March 6th.

The occupants of both buildings are "partner families" who are selected prior to construction, and who then help in the construction of their new home. Families work with the non-profit to pay back their no-interest 20-30 year mortgages that go toward building additional Habitat homes.

Families are selected based on several criteria: the families must have been Northern Virginia residents for at least a year, must currently be living in inadequate or substandard housing and must be willing to partner with Habitat. Partnering means future homeowners must commit between 300 and 500 hours of "sweat equity," meaning families work to build their home and other Habitat homes. Virginia Patton, the Marketing Communications/Media Manager for Habitat of Northern Virginia, said with the condos, families work side by side with their neighbors to help build their homes, making it a "community effort."

The Maple Ridge condos include six three-bedroom units at 1,100 s.f. each and three two-bedroom units at 900 s.f.

Fairfax Virginia real estate development news

Meridian Pint: Building Up to a June Grand Opening (draft)

John Andrade, Meridian Pint, 3DG, Paul Ruppert, new restaurant Washington DCA June 2010 grand opening is in the works for Meridian Pint, 3DG's much-anticipated Belgian beer hot spot at the site of the old Bi-Rite Super Market at 3400 11th Street, NW, Washington DC in Columbia Heights. 3DG CEO John Goldman John Andrade, Meridian Pint, 3DG, Paul Ruppert, new restaurant Washington DCtells DCMud, that the $3 million project came out almost exactly as his all-in-one architect, construction, and development team planned. The building "looks almost identical to the rendering," says Goldman, and is a "contemporary architectural statement that's unique for the neighborhood. We hope it will inspire others to think outside the box." Goldman blames "lots of permitting and regulatory delays from the city" as the reason his team was unable to finish exterior construction by their original Summer 2009 deadline, but assures that they have now "delivered the shell to the tenants" whose interior design and renovation is "well underway." Those tenants, by the way, are John Andrade, the current co-owner of Asylum on 18th Street, NW and his team of managers and contractors. Andrade signed on to a ten year lease of the 9,500 s.f. space two years ago, after Warehouse Theater owner, Paul Ruppert backed out of opening his own live music and food venue at the space. Although Andrade maintains his new place is "not a sports bar," he still plans to coincide what he's calling the "grandiose grand opening" of Meridian Pint and his downstairs bar Joint Chiefs with the start of the 2010 World Cup Games in June. Andrade boasts that he "did the bulk of the [interior] design work myself," and says progress behind the doors is moving at a "blistering" pace. But until the opening, he's keeping his vision for the interior "Top Secret."
Washington DC retail and commercial Real Estate News

The Moderno Condominiums

The Moderno, 1939 12th St., NW, Washington DC
Moderno condominium is a 19-unit condo, a joint venture between DC-based Lakritz Adler and Robertson Development, just off few feet off U Street. The Moderno consists of residential as well as (still vacant) ground floor and underground retail, and 12 parking spots, built in one structure that look like two buildings of 4 and 5 stories. Unique features included in some units: 19-foot ceilings, Spanish porcelain tiles and Spanish-built cabinets and some with outdoor showers on penthouse units. One-bedroom condos started originally in the high $300k's and three-bedroom condos stepped just over the $1m line. Construction began in the third quarter of 2007 and finished in early 2009. Designed by CORE Architecture and Design of DC, with Ellis Denning as the General Contractor for the project, this wood-framed building with brick and glass facade is a refreshing addition to the architecture of U Street, with modern interiors that incorporate wood and stone flooring and minimalist interiors as well as large glass bays, located 1 block to the U St. Metro. Phase 1 sales began October 2006 and did not sell out until late 2009, despite some hype about a supersonic sales pace.

Post your comments about the Moderno condominiums below:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Gales School Delay

The District of Columbia announced last week a delay in its procurement of bids to redo the historic Gales School. Just three weeks ago the District issued a Request for Offers for the property, located near Union Station and once nearly turned into a homeless shelter. The new timeline extends the submission deadline from February 16th to March 18th. Asked about the reason for the delay and whether any applications had been received, staff at the Department of Real Estate Services would only point out that they have a website to answer questions, a likely indication that they have not yet been overwhelmed with interest.

The city had been close to a deal with the Central Union Mission, which wanted to use the property for a homeless shelter, but the agreement was torpedoed by the ACLU.

Washington DC real estate development news

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Connecticut condominiums

The Connecticut, 3883 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington DC
This 158-unit, 9-story condominium was slipped into the backyard of an apartment building just off Connecticut Avenue, sitting on the edge of Rock Creek Park, offering bucolic views from the rear. The Connecticut is only 3 blocks to Van Ness and Cleveland Park Metro stations, within short range of diverse retail. Layouts and finishes were very standard for its era of development, but the lobby was sufficiently redesigned to make it modern and attractive, and the building does offer a small rooftop deck with pool, fitness center, business center, and 3-level underground garage. Built in 2003 by Clark Realty Capital as a rental building, the brick and zinc-paneled building was designed by Weihe Design Group (now WDG Architecture), using New York based ShoP Architects for the "minimalist" interior design, and built by Clark Construction. The Connecticut was partially rented, but the condo conversion numbers were too good to pass up, and the project was purchased and rebranded by Monument Realty, interior renovation by Coakley & Williams Construction. Individual condos were sold as tenants vacated beginning in early 2005. The Connecticut condos sold out in Spring, 2006.

Post your comments about the Connecticut condominiums below:

The Artisan Condos

The Artisan Condos, 915 E St., NW, Washington DC, 20004
The Artisan was designed by DC's WDG Architecture, and developed by JBG Companies of Chevy Chase, MD. The 12-story condominium was built onto the back of old rowhouses, now incorporated into the condominium facade. Prices for the 160 condos originally started in the mid-$300,000's, 4 units were reserved as artist live/work studios. Located 2 blocks from the MCI Center, and only two blocks to several Metro stations. The Artisan includes the usual amenities: fitness center, e-lounge, 24-hour front desk, underground parking, rooftop deck, and a fairly unassuming lobby. Built by Clark Construction, condo sales by Alexandria-based McWilliams Ballard, and interior design by Brawer & Hauptman of Philadelphia. This was one of the first of Washington DC's downtown real estate residential development, and with most of the lots now fully utilized there won't be many more behind it, since most Penn Quarter real estate is commercial. The Artisan Condos began occupancy in late 2006, but sales did not complete until summer of 2008.
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Have a Say in the Future of the Mall

On February 18th, the National Park Service (NPS) will hold a public meeting to present (in brief) the various alternatives for revamping the National Mall. The NPS released a 600-page draft plan in December with a public comment period that lasts through March 18th. The goal is to create a comprehensive plan for the upkeep and improvement of the National Mall, including the various monuments and parkland within.

The plan has five options: a do-nothing option, a preferred alternative and three other options focusing on either historic landscape and education (signs and trees), a national civic space (think Forrest Gump) or urban recreation and ecology (baseball fields). According to the NPS website, the Agency Preferred Alternative is a combination of the three action alternatives.

See for yourself next week from 5 to 7 PM at the Old Post Office building near Federal Triangle Metro.

Washington DC real estate development news

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