Monday, March 08, 2010

Loss of Anchor Means Back to Basics for Shaw Development

After the recent revelation that Radio One will no longer relocate to the District, Ellis Development Group, Jarvis Company, LLC and Four Points, the developers of the planned Media Center One project in DC's Shaw neighborhood, are modifying their plans and seeking official permission to extend their development timeline. The current approved Planned Unit Development is coming up on its two-year deadline, the requested two-year extension would give the developers time to regroup after recent setbacks.

The loss of Radio One for Media Center's 300,000 s. f. mixed-use development on 7th and S Streets, NW, forced the developers to revert to their "original" plan, a less grandiose proposal planned before Radio One swooped in and then bowed out. According to "Chip" Ellis of Ellis Development, the "new" plan is for 94,000 s.f. of office space with anywhere from 180 to 200 residential units. The units will be rentals "at this time," said Ellis. The change drops 25,000 s.f. of retail space and reduces the amount of office space by about 10,000 s.f. Construction could begin this July, though after years of delays and extended construction time lines, color us skeptical.

The United Negro College Fund will (likely) occupy the majority of the office space, but the development team is working to secure additional tenants, according to Ellis.
In January the Mayor's office proposed $3.8 million in tax breaks to assist the UNCF and entice their move to the District from Virginia. The District Council is set to review the proposal this week. In 2008, DC approved $23 million in subsidies for Media Center One, including $6 million in TIF financing which is now up in the air given the changed project, the massive budget shortfall facing the city and competing development plans elsewhere.

The moves come despite the developers' assertions in late September at the Shaw Main Streets (SMS) Development Forum that Media Center One would move forward and break ground before the new year (2010). On a rather bitter note, the developers had noted that they were one of the few "lucky" projects to actually have a tenant secured. Ouch.

Washington, DC real estate development news


1 said...

Its not the fault of the developer that there isn't much of a market there, but they've been telling the community for years that something is imminent. They need to level with us tell us what's going on. Stringing us along is frustrating.

ML said...

Right. The level of 'hoopla' around all of these projects in Shaw feels almost like fraud.

I would rather the developers and political players be more realistic when setting expectations with the community on prospects, funding and market realities. Rather they often portray these projects as game-changing, imminent, nearly done deals. The reality is that they are shaky deals often built on pipe dreams, and none of them will go forward without heavy subsidies from the city. Subsidies, that are fast becoming unavailable due to the city being well over budget.

Shaw is just not an area where large-scale private investment is currently deemed worth the risk. At some point, hopefully that will change and someone will take the risk with their own money on a large scale, and make a ton of money.

Anonymous said...

Since there's no development, these properties will be placed back on the toothless vacant list, right? For the 'original' plan, that's the one where a commercial slumlord squats on it until they can get the city to cough up 75% of the development costs. I'm sorry, after several years, you no longer deserve exemptions from anything. Re-instate the vacant tax and force the properties to sell to someone who will do something reasonable with them.

Shaw is turning me into a republican said...

Here's an idea: Tear down the drug infested criminal factories that permeate Shaw, and let market forces turn Shaw into the neighborhood that it should be.

As much as I love drug dealers on my street corner and the unsupervised future of the juvenile justice system running around breaking into my car, I think we would be better served putting the section 8 subsidies into actual productive use.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Shaw is turning me into a republican:

Amen, Columbia Heights is doing the same to me.

Anonymous said...

This project is a joke! The city awarded the developer $20M in 2008 to get things going and it has been one excuse after another.

I attended last month's ANC1B meeting where this project was asking for a two year extension. Extension for what, to sit on the ground longer???

Until this city embraces design-build, there will never be accountability, let alone projects being completed.

Design-build is the process that has allowed projects like the bridge in Minneapolis to be completed on time and at or even under budget. The DC baseball stadium is another example.

One other side note, the representative for the developer at the ANC meeting said he would email me the development timeline, which he never did.

The city needs to hold this group to a timeline and if they can't meet it, the project is up for new RFP!

Anonymous said...

Market forces ... PLEASE!!!!!

Watch Spike Lee's latest documentary about how market forces are failing the city of NOLA and the Gulf Coast in general. Market forces would have made the likes of BP, Halliburton, and Transocean to do their and the right & correct things to prevent and to deal with the oilspill. Of course the federal gov't has its failings but companies should do the right things from the start.

Back to Shaw or Columbia Heights. Yeah, lots of tax breaks just enable accelerated concentration of wealth. Those "jobs" are nothing more than Jim Crow with a new twist. Redevelopment takes a long time and a real commitment. Take Manhattan, in 15-20 years only the truly wealth are going to be its inhabitants as all others are driven off the island because of those wonderful market forces. Rental control housing is dying each time the inhabitant does. We already know Cabrini Green failed miserably. Yet, the truly integrated society and neighborhood remains the most elusive of dreams ...

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