Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rosslyn's Humbled Towers

Commuters exiting the Rosslyn Metro might have noticed construction vehicles and material at Monday Properties' 1812 North Moore Street, raising hopes of a new, LEED Platinum building in the center of Rosslyn. Alas, signs of future construction they are not. Likewise the friendly polka dots and convenient lunch tables on the site of neighboring Central Place by JBG offer, if nothing more, a place to sit and dream of the immense office building that will one day fill the space. The two sites offer hopes for the DC area's tallest buildings. Rosslyn, however, will have to wait for the distinction.

Now-defunct Westfield Realty sold 1812 North Moore Street's $31.5 million parcel to Monday Properties in 2006 after the former’s drawn-out bid to revamp the site met a slow death. Monday initially had much more success with their attempts to put the project into turnaround. Their Davis Carter Scott-designed tower boasts 600,000 square feet of commercial office space, 12,000 square feet for retail and a Metro terminal attached to the facility. Additionally, they were on track to becoming the first LEED Platinum-certified building in the area. But since that time, little has happened. Nor will it any time soon. Arlington's December, 2007 approval for the project was originally set to expire in December 2010, but a July 2009 statute made approval for the Monday project, and others, valid through July 2014.

What about the harbingers of construction seen on site? The materials belong to Dominion Power, which is working on the substation on the adjoining lot. According to the site manager for the Dominion construction team, Clark Construction, the general contractor, will not begin any sort of construction on 1812 until August, at the soonest. But Peter Berk, Executive Director for the project at Cushman & Wakefield said in an email, "the building is not going forward on a speculative basis (without some kind of pre-lease), at least not at this time due to the capital markets." Thanks anyway Dominion Power guy.

Across the street, JBG's equally reluctant Central Place project sits largely untouched with McDonald's bags but no construction debris. The 31-story, 535,000 s.f. building planned for the site will include 12,000 s.f. of ground floor retail in a 390-ft. glass curtain-wall mammoth. To top it all off, a 10,000 s.f. rooftop observation deck with distant views will open to the public.

Andrew VanHorn, a Vice President at JBG, admitted the widely circulated rumor that "office financing is difficult to come by lately." Before any construction can begin, Central Place will need prospective tenants and secure financing; the team will likely need upwards of 50 percent of the building leased before a shovel hits the ground. But it "depends on the credibility of the tenant" said VanHorn. A big catch, like an established law firm, might squeak by under the halfway marker, but in the end it is "really about what the bank is going to require."

Meanwhile, JBG partnered with the Rosslyn BID to create a "Central Space" in the area where the lobby of the future building will sit. Tables and a small rain garden now create a getaway for area workers to lunch. JBG "looked at the site, and though it wasn't going to be there long, it was a waste to have it fenced-up with weeds growing" explained VanHorn. The developer sees this small community area as the viable use for the site for the next 12 to 18 months at the outset.

The two bold, competing projects have each been humbled by the new economic reality. For now.

Rosslyn, Arlington Virginia real estate development news


Anonymous said...

That's a bummer. I hope they can be built as they are rather than shorter.

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