Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Forest City's Parcel D: The Yards Gets Moving

Last month Forest City presented their updated plans for a mixed-use development at the Yards to the local ANC, gratefully receiving a vote of approval. The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) also voiced their support for the project earlier this year. And now the proposal, which sees rental apartments stacked atop ground floor retail, goes before the Zoning Commission next month in hopes of earning final approval. Dubbed "Parcel D," the project is one of the first phases of new construction at The Yards, a Southeast waterfront redevelopment site that will eventually feature 2,800 residential units, 1.8 million s.f. of new office space, and 400,000 s.f. of retail shops and dining places. Forest City already delivered the promised 5.5 acre, riverfront Yards Park early this summer. An expansive, vacant parking lot currently occupies the development site at the southeast corner of 4th and M St.

Under their current Parcel D plans, two towers totaling 225 apartments (20% of which will be offered as affordable housing at 50% of AMI) will rise 102 feet in the air, extending from a single differentiated base structure that will house the 50,000 s.f. grocery store (rumored to be Harris Teeter) a 30,000 s.f. health club, and a few smaller "neighborhood-serving" retail spaces. Developers are in final negotiations with several tenants, and will make announcements as soon as leases are executed, for now renderings reveal them simply as "grocery" and "health club." Below grade parking will serve the retail uses, while a third floor parking deck sandwiched between the grocery store and apartment towers will provide spaces for residents.

Project Manager Alex Nyhan of Forest City told ANC6D that he and his team were optimistic that the predicted LEED Silver certification could be upgraded to an ambitious Gold rating by the project's end. Shalom Baranes is responsible for the building design, which has evolved significantly over the last three years as architects and developers responded to the suggestions of the HPRB, the NCPC, and the surrounding community. While plans are firming up, there is still plenty of work to be done. Senior Vice President of Development Ramsey Meiser at Forest City explains that even if all goes swimmingly next month at the zoning hearing, architectural plans will still need to be finalized, and building permits must be secured, likely a six to ninth month process. "I'm hoping to have construction under way by the middle part of next year," Meiser says. Once a groundbreaking happens, excavation and subsequent construction is expected to last 20-24 months.

Washington D.C. Real Estate Development News


Critically Urban on Nov 17, 2010, 2:44:00 PM said...

I think this is a fantastic project, but achieving LEED Gold certification is not ambitious as you state. It's actually quite easy to achieve even Platinum status if you have the correct people bidding your job. However, on a residential building, that status could probably only be achieved by upping the price of condos slightly, or accepting that it would take a little while longer to recoup the extra 5% greening cost from rent if the buildings are to become apartments.

Ken on Nov 17, 2010, 3:39:00 PM said...

To CU:

Alot of developers would beg to differ. While there isn't a huge cost difference (usually) from one grade to the next, the sourcing of materials can become more expensive, and the whole certification process adds a level of cost and complexity. Its really case by case.

Anonymous said...

Looks like an office building on stilts.

Critically Urban on Nov 17, 2010, 4:51:00 PM said...

A lot of developers would beg to differ (full disclosure, I work for a construction and development company in DC) only because any increase in cost is something to complain about. If the cost of furnishing light bulbs went up, many developers would complain out the wazoo.

I'm telling it like it is, and from experience, getting LEED Certified is mostly about the paperwork, and not the actual construction. Here, we have 2 LEED AP professionally certified staff members (and I am on my way to my first LEED professional certification--a cost of around $250, which is beans in the scheme of a development company), and even though we are not a particularly green company (yet), I can still tell you that the 3-5% (more for platinum) UP FRONT cost is nothing compared to the long term operational savings.

That said, to manage a LEED building to retain its certification, you must operate in a slightly different way, as certain green features require different methods of maintenance. Over time, this is becoming cheaper and cheaper to do as the number of LEED buildings increases and the effect of economies of scale kicks in stronger than ever.

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