Saturday, February 06, 2010

Arts Group Wants to Reinvigorate Stalled Developments

Developers who have been sitting on an unproductive lot or design for transit-oriented, mixed-use development might find a compelling impetus in an offer from Cultural Development Corporation (CuDC). The arts-oriented, non-profit broker, involved in project like Source and Atlas Performing Arts Center, is seeking "strategic partners" to create two projects, a commercial arts space and visiting artist housing, and is accepting applications from developers looking to utilize the resources and reputation of CuDC to create a sustainable arts space and catalyze neighborhood development. The Request for Expressions of Interest is the non-profit's first effort to formalize the type of development partnerships into which it invests time and resources.

Anne Corbett, Executive Director for CuDC, said the group receives calls "regularly" from developers with random lots or project ideas, and that the new direction is as much an exercise in embracing offers that work as in being able to "say no" to projects that do not fit. With the plethora of "stalled and underutilized projects" in the DC region, Corbett said the partnerships could provide the extra oomph to get projects moving that would "otherwise be sitting on the shelf."

The Commercial Arts Space would combine artists' work space with private arts organizations - meaning retail, restaurant, graphic design firm or even a law firm - while providing space for artists to work. Corbett said the ideal commercial project would offer 100,000 s.f. of space, 20,000 s.f. of which would be dedicated to artists' work space to create a "critical mass" between artists and related businesses.

The Visiting Artists Housing would provide both long term (multiple months) and short-term (overnight) housing in a hostel-like setting capable of holding a minimum of 35 artists each night. Corbett said this project needs to be centrally located and close to a metro, but also needs to be in an area that would "substantially benefit from the spillover effect". In the RFEI, the non-profit points to the Atlas District and the dramatic change that came over the H Street Corridor and its renaissance. So Dupont is probably out, but Brookland or Petworth could be in.

To apply, a developer needs "development expertise, capital, and/or property for development." CuDC is willing to act in various roles within a project including acting as the lead developer, minority development partner, master lessee or as a facilities manager. The ideal projects would rehabilitation of an existing structure at an infill location.

And CuDC must have a strong voice in the development process. Corbett said "people who have worked with us know that we are not shy, regardless of the financial relationship we strike in a project; we're very forthright with our opinions."

Got a stalled project near the metro? Have an underutilized lot in a neighborhood in need of a cultural boon? Don't mind being bossed around by a non-profit? Responses are due March 26th.

Washington DC real estate development news


Anonymous said...

How about some permanent artist housing and work space?

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