Monday, July 19, 2010

DC Redesigns Empty Printing Plant Near Ballpark

The District has finally come up with a plan for a long-vacant building in southeast DC that once served as the printing plant for the Washington Star, turning a physical and fiscal black-eye into what District officials say will be "a bold move" to improve the neighborhood. The District government began leasing the property in 2007, a controversial arrangement when the city failed to use the building. DC purchased the property outright last year for $85.2m in the hopes of converting its liability into productive space and has now partnered with development giant StonebridgeCarras. The five-story building at 225 Virginia Avenue remains the largest empty building near the Nationals Stadium.

Scotching plans to add on to the five-story building, the city will now renovate the interior and redesign the exterior to add "a lot glass that will allow natural sunlight to filter through the building," according to Jason Yuckenberg of the Department of Real Estate Services for the District. The revamp will also earn a LEED Silver certification, incorporate the largest green roof owned by the District government, and provide space for a public gallery to "showcase the vast art collection of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities."

The city will continue to own the land in a lease-leaseback arrangement with StonebridgeCarras. Details on how the city selected StonebridgeCarras were not immediately available, but according to Yuckenberg, the city "approached a number of people in the community about working with us on this project." StonebridgeCarras principal Doug Firstenberg tells DCMud the city's first RFP for the building went nowhere, after which the developer came up with the current lease plan financed through a private placement bond issue. Ultimately what they wanted was to own the building through creative financing" says Firstenberg.

Under a signed agreement, DC will lease the property to the developer, which will finance construction of the renovations, then lease it back to the city for $8.4m per year to be used as office space for several District agencies. The property will revert to the District at the end of the 20-year agreement. The District intends to build a data center and is seeking an occupant for the 50,000 s.f. of available space, stipulating that the data center tenant, a typically heavy energy consumer, "not adversely affect the LEED certification process" according to Yuckenberg.

The current structure, which has "virtually no windows, and is really drab and dreary," acknowledges Yuckenberg, is surrounded by ongoing improvements to the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, including EYA's Capitol Quarter housing project and adjacent Canal Park, which is expected to break ground within the next few weeks. The street will get its own revamp when CSX scrapes off Virginia Avenue to add capacity to the train line below it. Construction is expected to begin in November; the District has already begun interior demolition to make way for construction. The development team will include architects from DC's Hickok Cole, Davis Construction as a general contractor, and Rand Construction for the interiors. Firstenberg expects full occupancy by June of 2012.

The property was originally intended to be a 1st District Police substation and evidence warehouse for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), which has since moved elsewhere. After two years of paying $6.5 million in annual rent (nearly $550,000 a month), the District raised the ante by purchasing the site. Washington DC officials say the move will "save District taxpayers more than $60 million over the previous arrangement."

The District recently issued a Request for Offers (RFO) to sublease the 50,000-s.f. data center, responses to which are due by July 30, 2010; the city will sponsor a site visit for the space tomorrow.

Washington DC real estate development news


David Garber on Jul 19, 2010, 12:55:00 PM said...


David Garber on Jul 19, 2010, 12:59:00 PM said...

are there any pictures of what the building will look like from other sides?

Ken on Jul 19, 2010, 1:44:00 PM said...

That's all we were able to get.

drinky poo said...

sweet mother of science! how long has that bldg been empty??? the star closed eons ago!

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