Saturday, May 01, 2010

DC's Newest Office Building: Uniting NoMa?

Another NoMa project has now delivered, this time at the corner of K and 1st Streets, NE. 90K, Trammell Crow Company's new office building, is the first of the (eventual) four-stage Sentinel Square development, which will take up several lots along L, First and K Streets, NW in NoMa. 90K offers 400,000 s.f. of green office space for the taking. To date, no announcements have been made about tenants, potential or otherwise, though the developers indicate "strong interest" from government agencies. Developers say the timeline for the next three stages is dependent on the market and financing.

Clark Construction Group began building in June 2008, which is noteworthy according Tom Finan, Managing Director at Trammell Crow, because the development was able to secure construction financing that June "while the rest of the world tumbled around us." Finan said the building was designed by architects SmithGroup to appeal to both public and private sector tenants, though the 12-story Class A office building includes ISC Level IV security features - 30 foot set-backs on all sides, blast-resistant window glazing and separate shuttle elevators from the parking garage to the security check point - not exactly necessary for your average law firm. Building design even assures progressive collapse avoidance, preventing the sudden loss of any column or beam from causing collapse for sufficient time to evacuate.

90K was designed to achieve LEED Silver certification, with aspirations for Gold; Finan indicated that the announcement on LEED is expected this summer. Three levels of below-grade parking provide 317 parking spaces, though the building is just a few blocks from Union Station. And since looks matter, 90K is surfaced with stainless steel and glass, with a skirt of black granite at street level and Jerusalem Gold marble from Israel.

Asked about the impact of a new building without secured tenants on occupancy rates in the NoMa neighborhood, Liz Price, President of the NoMa BID, said the project does not make a big impact considering the area is set to have 14-15 million s.f. of new or converted office space when and if all proposed projects come to fruition. But the Trammell Crow project is probably "one of the only spaces currently or near-term available for a large HQ," added Price. NoMa's remaining office space can only be leased piecemeal thanks to other large leases.

On the leasing front, Finan said his company has "chased a number of bigger government deals and some of the medium sized agencies," but nothing firm. Finan is hopeful that a deal could be "only months away" on leases that would take upward of one-third of the building. Though designs could permit ground floor retail, Finan said his company secures office tenants first and then determines whether or not there should be retail in the mix.

What does 90K, Sentinel Square's first phase, do for NoMa? Finan sees the project as an anchor that connects the "preexisting" NoMa up and down First Street near Union Station with the newer, "more pioneering elements" closer to New York Avenue. The project, which replaced a surface parking lot, serves to "unite" the area between metros into a clear NoMa market, added Finan.

Washington, DC real estate development news


the poo poo is up early on sunday said...

excellent addition to NoMa. the building looks great from the outside, and replaces a truly NASTY, waste of space parking lot. i actually think that the underground parking provides for MORE spaces than the old above ground lot.

that said, it's a shame that the greyhound bus station remains across the street. when will that place go?!

noman said...

Yes, its a small step in the right direction, but they're still not quite at critical mass there, the place needs residents in a bad way. Too bad that the first residents will be apartment renters, and not condo owners, who have a bigger stake in the community and tend to be involved in working on issues.

Anonymous said...

Are there any plans for condos,loft or townhouse planned for NOMA ? If so when,what type an approximatley how much.

not on parker said...

...excellent addition to NoMa. the building looks great from the outside, and replaces a truly NASTY, waste of space parking lot...

Say what? That building is hideous! Looks like a stack of network switches...

Anonymous said...

If that dumb glass box is an excellent addition to NOMA, ouch? Why do people expect so little from architects?

Anonymous said...

I just walked through NoMA this weekend, and this building really looks cheap. First Street should be the retail corridor for the neighborhood will retail lining the ground floor of all these new buildings, but what I saw was a lot of buildings with huge setbacks with little to no space for retail.

Take a look at the building at 1100 First Street, for example. It doesn't look like it contains any retail space at all and is set back from the street too much. Also, the building looks standoff-ish to the neighborhood. When it's brother gets built at 1150 First Street, this stretch of the neighborhood will most likely look deader than a doornail.

There will be a lot of density coming into NoMA, but I just don't see that it will be lively on the street level.

Anonymous said...

1100 First Street has retail at the corner of 1st & L, and then all along L Street. Some of the potential tenants have apparently wanted to take some of that ground level space for their own uses, but the prominent corner spot would remain retail.

kevin said...

I was initially excitied about NOMA/Ballpark district, etc, hoping they would turn into something like the Pearl District in Portland, West Loop in Chicago. But, they look increasingly like an another Crystal City-type office ghetto in the making.

The local housing market isn't helping matters.

But, it seems emblimatic of DC's basic problem. The city has the office market of a large city Chicago and the residential base of mdisize city Baltimore.

Anonymous said...

Crystal City...Rossyln...Downtown DC...and now NoMA. Office parks trying to hide behind camouflage!

Anonymous said...

The nice thing about NOMA is that there is a large housing stock in "Capitol Hill North" and it is relatively affordable as NOMA has not filled in yet. In a couple of years NOMA will be filling up and people will want to live in the area. For the CHN people they will have all the benefits of H St to the South and offices to the West.

Anonymous said...

The Architect responds to a few of the comments:
1. The building is built at the limits of its property lines; the sidewalk widths are artifacts we can't change in this case. Parts of the city have interesting past lives that resonate with odd property line locations, utilities, and other infrastructure.
2. Yes, the basement garages more than compensate for the surface parking where the building was sited.
3. The DC Office of Planning tried, unsuccessfully, to get a retail overlay for NoMa passed a few years ago. We (the architectural and planning community) hope that as the density builds, and especially the residential/mixed-use, there will be retail demand and viability.
4. Critical mass is coming, but unfortunately the market stymied many development opportunities. NoMa is a great location and there's no reason it should not be a vibrant urban community close to great transportation and livable communities.

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