Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Archstone Pushes the Envelope with NoMa Residential

Archstone says it will break ground in April on one of the first new developments to do so in the "downtown core" this year, increasing residential space in NoMa by over 50 percent. Archstone's 469 rental residential units, which will replace a surface parking lot at 1st and M Streets, NE, will be the first of two phases; the total project will bring 1.5 million s.f. If everything goes according to plan, the first phase should deliver in spring 2012, the second phase, also residential, does not yet have a start date.

When Archstone Senior Vice President Rob Seldin began working with his architects at Davis Carter Scott, the team realized they had a blank slate and could make a statement that would set the tone for the area with their design. As Doug Carter, a founding Principal at Davis Carter Scott, said about Seldin, "he has a record of trying to push the envelope and this building is no different."

Carter said the challenge of a large, phased project is to make something that is "interesting all the way around" and to avoid making the structure look "entirely long and boring." So his team changed the massing and the color and texture of the materials by detailing the masonry horizontally, using the precast concrete to create a wavy element in the facade and designing striking glass corner towers. Carter added that the design is meant to draw people in to want to live there and to be a "fixture of the urban landscape" that never bores passersby. Rather than design a traditional, conservative "plain Jane" building often found in DC, said Carter, his team strove to make Archstone's NoMa building "a little more forward looking" with a design that is "exciting and stimulating."

The 500,000 s.f. building will be almost entirely residential save one small ground-floor retail area at the corner of M and First Streets, NE. A parking garage, not included in the s.f. calculation, will provide 421 spots on three levels below grade. The ground floor will include 20,000 s.f. of amenities for residents, including a library, meeting rooms, kitchen, movie theater and even an outside movie area for up to 20 people. Then there's the rooftop pool, a hot commodity to be certain.

The new building will deliver in time for residents to take advantage of what will then be a fully operational Harris Teeter across the street. Liz Price, President of the NoMa BID, said the new residential is "key to the next wave" of commercial development and will help NoMa "continue to attract new retail and restaurants."

Archstone's Seldin said he has been "encouraged by the continuing construction and leasing" in other properties in NoMa. "Ours will be an outstanding addition to a great area." The general contractor for the project is Forrester Construction.

Washington, DC real estate development news


IMGoph on Mar 10, 2010, 4:54:00 PM said...

yay! residential to go with the offices and retail there. noma might become a solid 24/7 community yet!

Anonymous said...

What's going on with 300 M St NE? Haven't heard any movement lately.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the NOMA area, does anyone have any facts regarding the potential grocery store at 3rd and H St NE?

Anonymous said...


The complex that includes the Harris Teeter has a residential component, and there is the huge building at 3rd and K NE, and the intern housing also at 3rd and K. All of this is nearing completion. So there will be plenty of new housing in this area very soon. In existing housing, there's Senate Square, and all the predominantly residential area east of 3rd NE.

IMGoph on Mar 11, 2010, 6:25:00 AM said...

anon: i'm well aware of the entire neighborhood that exists east of 3rd street NE, but let's be realistic about what's part of noma. let's not participate in realtor-based neighborhood creep, like calling all of logan circle part of dupont circle (as it was known as dupont east for a few years there).

the railroad tracks are an enormous physical, visual, and mental barrier that separates near northeast (the neighborhood you were just referring to) from noma proper. 3rd and K NE might be part of the noma BID, but it's physically part of the existing neighborhood east of the tracks.

now, the residential component of the building at constitution square (the building with harris teeter) is minimal, and not enough to sustain the retail in that building by itself. the addition of an almost entirely residential building directly across the street will really help make the place feel less like an office canyon.

Ken on Mar 11, 2010, 7:29:00 AM said...

If you click on "Wilkes" in the label list to the lower right you will pull up a list of things going on east of the tracks. But other than the student housing, not much is underway, all the developers have chosen to ride out this market, especially in that neighborhood.

As for the tracks, that distinction may some day be invisible, as it is in New York, if the Burnham Place project ever gets built, but that is on hold now.

Anonymous said...

The reference to only one small retail spot is the only mistake I see with this development. To attract tenants (or buyers) developers should realize they need to offer a few more small/medium retail opportunities. CityVista is an example of a development that I believe has weathered the real estate storm far better than others, which I think has been attributed to its assortment of amenities, including the ground level retail. The buildings surrounding the Archstone project don't have that much retail to absorb demand (a Harris Teeter, while very helpful, will not be enough to draw people in). Most people simply aren't going to want to live in a non-vibrant neighborhood. Right now that area is devoid of restaurants, sushi bars, salons, pubs, gyms, shopping (even a CVS or Rite Aid) etc. Having these sorts of amenities within a short walk of your apartment door is part of the reason people live in the city. And if developers continue to omit retail from their buildings this will not be as desirable an area as it could be thereby ultimately dragging down rents and (for condos sales prices). In other words, without a reasonable mix of ground level retail it will be a much tougher sell to get folks to move into this area.
So while I agree it is good to hear there will be more residential, I think the developers are making a bit of a mistake.

Anonymous said...

to ^:
Developers are not making a mistake. They are in collaboration with one another and understand the full dynamics of creating a mixed-use community. However, commercial tenants are needed at first to generate foot traffic. Take a look at SE DC. JPI overloaded the area with residential. I was going to provide with a drawn out explanation of what is going on, but don't have the time. Go to NoMa BID's website.

JohnDC said...

I agree with IMGoph. I too was worried when the stalled components of NOMA tended to be the ones with residential components.

I'm hoping with more foot traffic even the businesses that are open now will increase their hours. Pound & Heidi's Deli are closed by the time I head home

Tom A. on Mar 11, 2010, 10:35:00 AM said...

Is this the same Archstone that did the failed condos (now apts) above Wheaton metro? They look good, but are still struggling getting retail in there!

Tom A. on Mar 11, 2010, 10:39:00 AM said...

Never mind, I just looked at their website. I'm shocked at the prices:

1 Bedroom from the $1,500s
2 Bedroom from the $2,000s

in Wheaton?? which is a very working class neighborhood- with a huge number of New Americans. If they want this much in Wheaton imagine the prices near New York Ave metro?

Are people really paying over 2k a month to rent an apartment in Wheaton? Wow. You could buy a house nearby with a much smaller mortgage.

bamoll on Mar 11, 2010, 10:58:00 AM said...

Anon 8:58, great point about the retail. First Street NE will be a vibrant street in less than a year, and those developers with a little foresight would WANT to put retail on that street, as the value of that space as retail would be much higher than residential. I, unfortunately, disagree with Anon 10:07 (why don't you people use a pen name at a minimum??). In a perfect world, this statement would be true: "They are in collaboration with one another and understand the full dynamics of creating a mixed-use community". I just think a lot of developers are short-sighted in understanding the full possibilities of markets in which they develop. My 2 cents.

TC res said...

I would love to see more commercial/mixed use in that building. The problem w/ only residential buildings is you get the east of chinatown feel w/o a lot of sidewalk traffic. That being said, if the lack of retail encourages north cap to develop, I'm all for it

Sean Hennessey on Mar 12, 2010, 9:24:00 AM said...

seeing the skyline of noma really makes me wish there were more variances in our height restrictions.
still, its good to see things moving forward there. on Apr 8, 2010, 3:13:00 PM said...

late to the game here but, the Constitution Square development has 440 apartment units that will be delivering before the end of the year - not exactly a minimal component (+200 hotel rooms as well). Also, it has, save for entrance lobbies/garage entries, retail around the entire perimeter (M St, 1st St, N St)of the 3 building being built in the first phase.

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