Sunday, July 31, 2011

Your Next Place


By Franklin Schneider

Ah, Shaw. I know I've talked a fair amount of trash in this space about Shaw, but it's really hard to beat, as neighborhoods go. I
house-sat for a friend in Adams Morgan this past week, thinking it would be a welcome change from my almost morbidly quiet Shaw neighborhood. But I was wrong. The very first night I was there, someone stole my bike. The next night, I threw on some “comfy” clothes to go pick up a pizza a block away, and when I crossed paths with a group of bargoers, they looked at me like I was Casey Anthony. I mean, come on, it was a Tuesday night at 6:30! If that had happened in Shaw, I would've been congratulated for wearing any pants at all. I learned my lesson; you want to be near the action, but not in it.

With that in mind, this five bedroom renovated Shaw rowhouse would be the perfect homebase; your retreat from the city, in the city. Roundabouts 1st and P Streets, NW, it's really close to everything (Chinatown, U Street, Logan Circle, etc.) without being neck deep in it. And location aside, the house is beautiful. There are wide plank Brazilian Cherry floors throughout the house, and the walls are painted in light but rich tones. There's a chef's kitchen, with a Wolf gas range, and there are tons of little touches, from the M.C. Escher-esque tiling in the master bathroom, to the future-retro marble fireplace in the living room, that would make a great t-shirt if it wasn't, like, 1500 pounds. The banisters, instead of using the usual wooden dowels/planks, use a heavy metal mesh, to striking effect, and the entire house is wired for sound, so you can inflict your musical “tastes” on everyone else in the house whenever you want. In the back is parking for two cars, and a private fenced patio.

Plus, the house is right on the alley, cutting your odds of having a loud, annoying neighbor by fifty percent. Take it from someone who used to live sandwiched between an elderly gameshow enthusiast, and a married couple who communicated chiefly by screaming: this is huge.

118 Bates St. NW
Washington DC 20001

Friday, July 29, 2011

Abdo to Build Out Vacant Logan Circle Site

Abdo Development will build out one of the last vacant parcels of Rhode Island Avenue west of Logan Circle, filling it with an 8-story apartment building on a site backing up to Whole Foods.

Abdo bought the land in 2001, along with the early 20th century buildings on either side of the lot, and has had plans since to build a multi-family residence on the site. The Logan Circle based developer renovated the flanking apartment buildings in the '90's, creating the Zenith and Willison condominiums. A pair of late 19th century Romanesque townhouses on the site were razed in 2007.

Design of the building will mirror the adjacent buildings, designed by William Harris in 1929 and 1930. The new addition will add "a classical tripartite organization, with a two-story stone base, a five-story midsection clad in brick, and a brick attic story with a cornice." Abdo Development is seeking a zoning variance for reduced parking, and will share the existing driveway to a planned underground garage.

The Historic Preservation Office has recommended approval of the project, HPRB and BZA must still review the plans. In a staff report, the HPRB noted that "the stretch of Rhode Island Avenue from Logan Circle to Scott Circle is a particularly fine example of a grand residential boulevard from the early decades of the 20th century. With a few exceptions, these blocks are characterized by large distinguished residences and dignified apartment buildings...[t]he proposed project continues in that tradition, wisely eschewing the temporary vogue of a scale-less all-glass façade for a dignified and relatively quiet classically-inspired building that will relate to and enhance its context."

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rock Spring Centre, Optimistically Pushing Forward

Rock Spring Centre by DRI development, Bethesda, Montgomery County
 Spring Centre of North Bethesda, a 53.4-acre tract of land within the Garrett Park area, sandwiched between the two legs of I-270, has been partially built, stalled, transferred, and reworked in the decade-plus since the development was conceptualized, and the land rezoned, from high-rise residential real estate to commercial property, back in 1997. Of the remaining 30 acres of land to be developed, Washington D.C. based DRI Development Services says it is moving forward; plans are approved, an architect is on payroll, and retail leases are being pursued, lacking only an equity partner, said Chris Spitz, president of DRI. 

DRI's most recent plans for the site were approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board this past February, but the last step - partnering with an institutional investor or real estate investment trust - is still elusive. DRI will need approximately $375 million to fund the land development, said Spitz, adding that, once complete, it will be akin to "a smaller Reston Town Center." Spitz says that DRI, a wholly owned subsidiary of Transwestern, is looking to start construction in the spring of 2012, with delivery in the first quarter 2014. DRI will lease 210,000 s.f. of retail space and 90,000 s.f. of below-grade entertainment space. Retail is broken up into 53 spaces as follows: 2 anchor tenants, 2 banks, 7 full-service restaurants, 9 quick-service restaurants, and 33 other retailers.Bethesda, MD retail and real estate development news - leasing at Rock Spring CenterRock Spring Centre retail, leasing by Transwestern in Bethesda, Montgomery CountyRock Spring Centre retail, leasing by Transwestern in Bethesda, Montgomery County Rock Spring Centre retail by DRI Development, Transwestern leasingTo date there are no retail leases signed, says Bill Miller of Transwestern, despite what Miller says is "strong" ongoing interest in the development from potential tenants. "We're very close to having a theater deal [secured]... and we're talking to a few health clubs for the space below grade." Of anchor tenant space, Miller said that a deal "is close" for the largest anchor spot, just shy of 30,000 s.f. The rest of the nine building development will consist of 550,000 s.f. of office, 200,000 s.f. of hotel (200 rooms, operator unknown), and161 residential units, 1.2m s.f. in all. DRI took over development of the site from Penrose in 2008, and is in a long-term lease with land owners Davis Brothers and Camalier LP. DRI has hired Boston-area architects Arrowstreet, which revealed new images of the project last week. 

Architects say the development will be LEED certified, though not which program, and that the project will have "regionally appropriate landscaping." An original three-phase development plan for Rock Spring Centre was approved in 1999. Yet to date, only the first phase, the AvalonBay Apartments, has been built. Since 2004, the site has been dormant, with a second phase - also residential - approved, but never completed. The third, and final, phase has been reworked, from an upscale "urban village" known as Canyon Ranch, scratched in 2006, to the development as it now looks. DRI also has long gestating plans to develop the 1800 block of Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, a full-block office project near the ballpark, and had planned to develop the prominent Gallery Square, the corner parcel at 675 H Street, since been purchased by McCaffery Interests Inc. and Douglas Development

Bethesda, Maryland real estate development news

Monday, July 25, 2011

Reviving the Meridian Hill Baptist Church, as Condominiums

The Meridian Hill Baptist Church at 3146 16th Street, NW was one of several victims of a five-alarm fire in March of 2008. The inferno, its likeness unseen in the District for three decades prior, originated within the Deauville Apartments located next door to the Church at 3145 16th Street. The fire easily reached the Church, shattering stained-glass windows, and bringing down its roof, as opposed to raising it, as congregations had previously done, since 1916.

Pastor Calvin Cage said the Church did not receive substantial insurance monies in order to cover multimillion dollar damages, and lacking assistance from the District, was forced to pursue a private partnership to redevelop its property on 16th Street.

A partnership with Bozzuto Homes was originally sought to turn the Church into "senior housing or affordable housing," said Cage, adding that these uses were the first priority of the Church. But, it seems need has prevailed, as Bozzuto has hired Martinez + Johnson Architecture, a D.C.-based firm, to design a redevelopment of the Church into condominiums.

Redevelopment of the 14,700-s.f. property, will include preservation of the Church's classical limestone edifice, constructed in 1927 by noted firm Porter & Lockie, around an older brick structure, built in 1916, which succumbed to the blaze.

As relayed by Clark Wagner, Bozzuto's vice president and director of development, the restoration and new-build project is an effort to construct 55 to 60 condos, all one- and two-bedroom units priced in the upper-$200,000 to low-$400,000 range, and will be up for sale, Wagner hopes, next summer.

Of the design, Wagner said "the project is still in the conceptual stage," but the current plan being presented to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) on Thursday, the 28th, is for a 7-story addition, to the side and back of the Church, with a contemporary look that will "not loom above the Church." The 23,850 s.f. church, Wagner said, has a height that is "equivalent to about five stories."

At least one follow-up trip to the HPRB is likely, as the staff report for the case suggests "the Board approve the demolition of the rear of the building and the general design approach to the additions in concept... and that the design continue to be revised and refined."

The report also explains that the new-construction addition will be "expressed as two additions, a side and a rear, by the use of different treatments of the elevations and by the creation of a 'notch' at their juncture."

Michael Cooke of M+J has presented his designs to the neighborhood ANC (1D) twice, most recently on July 19th, and those designs will not be contested, or approved, by the ANC said Jack McKay, ANC 1D secretary. McKay explained that the ANC will not take a stance at this early stage of the project, as the issue at hand is historic preservation, not zoning variances, which is something the ANC will take a stance on, when the issue arises. McKay said the ANC is most interested in the rear set back and rear access of the property, as well as the spacing to adjacent properties.

Adequate spacing is important to residents in the area, as a four-story residence located at the back of the Church narrowly escaped the inferno, and spacing has proved to be an issue in the renovation of the Mount Pleasant Public Library at 3160 16th Street, also closed for a few days following the fire due to a substantial intake of smoke.

The four-story Deauville Apartment building - saddled with housing complaints and code violations for many years prior to 2007 - was destroyed by the fire that struck before midnight and burned throughout the night. More than 200 residents were displaced, and the skeleton of the Deauville property is currently seeking rebirth as the tenant-owned Monsignor Oscar Romero Apartments.

Though now a lifeless limestone hulk, the Church once housed a 400-member congregation, an Ethiopian community center (upstairs) and a Catholic Charities homeless shelter (basement), before the end came in the form of fire, without brimstone. Cage added that although the Church's congregation is now melded into a sister church in Prince George's County, the goal is to re-establish its D.C. presence in the near future, possibly in Southeast.

article amended 7/27: "rebuild" [of Mount Pleasant Library] changed to "renovation." Although the Library was closed for a few days due to heavy smoke intake, renovation of the library was planned before the fire. And, "John McKay" has been changed to "Jack McKay."

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Your Next Place ...

By Franklin Schneider

This historic Victorian, just steps from Eastern Market, is one of the more charming homes I've seen recently. From the bayfront living room to the fantastic vintage fireplace (I honestly thought about coming back late at night with a forklift and stealing it) to the stained-glass windows scattered throughout the house, this place has a seemingly endless number of little details that, in aggregate, made me curse the gods that the subprime mortgage is a thing of the past.
Hey, two years in my dream home, ending in bankruptcy and foreclosure, is still two years in my dream home.

With tons of open space and windows, it's also one of the brighter homes I've been in. The master bedroom boasts cathedral ceilings and a huge skylight, as well as exposed brick and a walk-in closet so big it seems like you could use it as a parking space, if you could figure out a way to get your car from the street to the second floor. (The skylight maybe?) The second bedroom also has exposed brick and exposed beams, as well as more fine examples of the aforementioned stained glass. There's also a deck and a garden in back, in case you find the refined perfection of your house so overwhelming that you have to step out for a moment, just to catch your breath.

There's also a gourmet kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances and a large ceiling fan that will come in incredibly handy if, like me, most of your attempts at “cooking” end with acrid black smoke pouring out of the oven while your significant other makes jokes about “broiled tires.”

707 Massachusetts Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002

3 Bdrooms, 3 Baths

Friday, July 22, 2011

FCP Plans Condos on Adams Morgan Infill Site

CBRE Commercial Real Estate, Adams Morgan retailAdams Morgan will get another condominium project - likely within the next two years - on the now vacant lot at 2337 Champlain Street. Federal Capital Partners (FCP) purchased the property yesterday and plans to build up to 40 units on the site.

The fully-entitled residential development site, adjacent to the adaptive reuse project (at 2329, 2335) (currently seeking a new owner) will be developed by FCP in conjunction with Altus Realty Partners. Of the sale, Altus principal Charlie Kehler said, "[w]e’re really excited, it’s one of the last infill sites on Champlain Street."

"We’re going to try to bring this to market as soon as we can,” stated Kehler, of the project which aims to begin construction in the spring of 2012. "We're interviewing architects [currently]." Once selected, the chosen architecture firm will design a complex offering "somewhere between 36 and 40 units, that will range from 500 to 900 square feet."

Of the location, Kehler added, "It's proven to be a strong market." He expects the condos to command "$550 to $600 per square foot." The $3.55 million sale was brokered by Scott Frankel of CBRE and Bruce Levin of MAC Realty Advisors. According to DCRA, WWYP LLC had purchased the property in June of 2005 for $1.9 million.

FCP is a local real estate investment company with over $2 billion in assets acquired since 2003. Altus operates out of Arlington and invests primarily in the greater-D.C. area.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Demolition Permits Falling into Place in Court House District

A demolition permit was granted, yesterday, to property owner USAA Real Estate to demolish one of the two buildings it owns at 1900 and 1916 Wilson Blvd. in the Court House district of Arlington. Obtaining the permit is one step in the right direction for USAA, currently on track with a timeline to deliver 167,000 s.f. of mixed-use residential-and-retail along the 1900 block of the Wilson Blvd. corridor in less than two years.

Though one raze permit is in the hands of The Berg Corporation to demolish the former Hollywood Video at 1900 Wilson Blvd, another permit for 1916 Wilson Blvd. - formerly an office building - still awaits approval (it was filed yesterday), as does one for infrastructure/sewer work (filed July 1st), and demolition on site is not likely imminent. Construction, under general contractor Harkins Builders, is due to officially begin "in the fall," according to a representative, today, at Zom Inc., the development manager on the project.

Zom Inc. (Mid-Atlantic region) is now the development manager, but was once the owner, having bought the site in 2006, for $21.5 million; Zom was financially forced to sell, and USAA Real Estate purchased the property in 2010, for $18 million.

The 1.73 acre property will become a transit-oriented, mixed-use development thanks to its location two blocks from the Court House Metro stop. The new Torti Gallas and Partners-designed buildings on site will rise five stories, the majority of use going to multifamily apartments (191 units) with 17,300 s.f. of ground floor retail and 256 parking spots.

A collection of renderings have been filed with the Arlington government. USAA originally planned a Fall 2011 start date; if the project continues to adhere to the proposed timeline, the development, one of three big projects planned for the corridor, will deliver in June of 2013.

Arlington, Virginia real estate development news

Ciao Bella?

Valor Development is moving forward with its current vision to turn the former Italian Embassy at 2700 16th St., NW into a residential complex - known as "Il Palazzo" - and will visit the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) next week for design approval. Valor has submitted design schematics for the preservation of the existing 3-story limestone building and the addition of two towers (5 and 8-stories tall), time will tell if the concepts by Trout Design Studio will sink or swim with the HPRB. Representing Trout Design will be principal Michael Beidler, along with architect Patrick Cook, and a few others from the small, local firm, which declined to divulge details in advance of the upcoming meeting. Following the HPRB trip will be a visit to the Zoning Commission for consolidated PUD and map amendment approval, on September 8th. The property is split-zoned, and Valor seeks to establish a uniform zone for the site (R-5-D), allowing a "shift of density that would otherwise be permitted on the eastern portion... to the western portion" as stated in the pre-hearing submission, lodged with the Zoning Commission in May. The goal of the rezone request is to "focus all additional density and height at the rear of the property." The Office of Planning concluded in April that the proposal for the redevelopment was "not inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan" and waved Valor forward, with stated approval of the project's "special value" including "preservation of a historic resource" and five 2-bedroom affordable units (80% AMI). First conceptualized as a condo redevelopment in 2004 by previous owner Spaulding & Slye, Colliers and Castleton Holdings, HPRB deemed the site a landmark in 2006, just as construction was about to begin, a move which halted the developer's plans. Lender O’Connor North American Property Partners LP foreclosed on the property the following year. Valor Development purchased the site in 2008 for $6.5 million, and had hoped to have construction underway - partnering with Potomac Construction Group - this summer, however, Valor has also hit a few snags along the way. Valor and Trout Design visited the HPRB in November of 2010, then again in January of this year, with a plan to redevelop the property as a "luxury condominium," which has been revised over the past 6 months into 110 to 135 residential units with the majority (56) to be one-bedroom units, and 30 to be 2-bedroom/2-bath. The breakdown of the remaining units is undetermined, but the largest will be a 3 bed/2.5 bath configuration. The residential addition on the western side of the 42,500 s.f. property will now top out at 8 stories (previously 9) and will not rise over 90'; the floor area ratio (FAR) will be 2.8 with 122,428 s.f., with a lot occupancy of 58% allowing for a "considerable amount of landscaping" and a rear yard (80' in depth). The amount of below grade parking is yet to be determined, but will be between 60 and 90 spaces.Phase I will entail the "renovation and conversion of the existing Italian Embassy," including restoration of the landmark's fa├žade, as well as preservation of notable, existing shared spaces within the once dapper host to embassy functions, including the ballroom, library and dining room. The embassy, built in 1925, was designed by New York architecture firm Warren and Wetmore, on land owned by Mary Foote Henderson, who spent part of the family fortune, made from "worthless bonds," on her impassioned goal to transform 16th Street, which included the creation of Meridian Hill Park. Valor could not be reached for comment, however stated in the PUD application an intent to break ground next spring, with construction expected to take 18 months. 

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Watergate Plans Move Ahead

AfterMap:  Watergate, Foggy Bottom, Washington DC years of dormancy and uncertainty, the Watergate may be about to launch its rebirth as an upscale hotel, completing the circle after its closure to convert to private residences. Developers of the hotel, which shuttered in 2007, are now close to announcing a plan to renovate and rebrand the luxury hotel. Developer Euro Capital Properties, a European investment firm with dual headquarters in Paris and New York, has hired worldwide architectural firm Gensler to redesign the interior and refit the structure, a process that will begin once Euro Cap has had a chance to run its plans through a triad of regulatory agencies. Redevelopment of the "luxury hotel," considered to command a price point around $300 per night, will require an investment of around $50 million by Euro Cap subsidiary Euro Watergate Hotel and Residences LLC. Watergate Hotel, Washington DC commercial real estateThe U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) will be the first to review the proposed design changes for the iconic curvilinear structure, a historic landmark, which it will do tomorrow, followed by the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB), and finally the National Park Service. Monument Realty purchased the famed hotel in 2004, with financing by the doomed Lehman Brothers, and after physical and legal work attempted its reincarnation as a co-operative residence. Sales began in 2006 for 96 units from $860,000 and up, but only a handful went under contract, and with legal problems besetting the conversion Monument stalled on construction and closed the hotel in 2007. After several attempts to work out the debt, the hotel was put up for auction in July of 2009 by New York-based lender PB Capital Corporation, still owed $40m for the property, an auction that induced no bidders

In May of 2010 PB Capital sold the project for $45m to Euro Capital. Senior designer Cory Kessler of the architect's New York office and lead architect on the project, said the project is still "in the conceptual phase," with various exterior design elements up for review, but that outward appearances will change little. "The exterior renovations will be minimal and respectful," said Kessler, who would not delve into specifics. Thomas Luebke, Secretary to the CFA, confirmed that the elements under review this week are minimal. "By and large these [changes] are relatively minor," said Luebke, "not particularly significant in the scheme of the whole complex." The Watergate's developers have declined to comment on the project during the review process, noting only that it will be a "lifestyle brand hotel." Sources at Euro Cap had also considered a blended use with at least a few floors of residential living. "It's a hodge podge of upgrades," continued Luebke. "There are mechanical upgrades that involve some changes to the rooftop, [specifically the] elevator overrun ... and some proposed changes to the grand ballroom, pushing it out toward the water, and elevating the roof up to six feet." However, he added, these changes are "not too noticeable from the street." 

Monument's plans would have carved out the interior, converting some 250 hotel rooms into 96 residences, but those changes were never begun, leaving the hotel in its original configuration. While there are limitations to the exterior redevelopment of the Watergate Hotel due to its historic landmark status, the long-neglected interior provides an opportunity for definitive, upper-crust design transformation. Euro Cap has experience in luxury hotel redevelopments both internationally - notably the Hilton Arc de Triomphe in Paris, its flagship property - and locally; the company first invested in D.C. in the late '90s through the restoration of the Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel at 14th and K Streets, NW. Sources say the hotel operator has not been chosen, and that developers are waiting for progress on the design before choosing the best flag for the building. Sources at Euro Cap familiar with the process say the legal and physical challenges of the building, which inhibited bidders at the 2007 auction sale ("too many uncertainties"), have made development of the site complex, calling it "a consultant's dream." Under local preservation law and regulations, projects reviewed by CFA under its Shipstead-Luce or Georgetown jurisdictions do not require review by HPRB. Nonetheless, HPRB staff is reviewing it because the owner is seeking federal historic preservation tax credits for rehabilitation. The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation apply to tax credit projects, and are more stringent than the standards under the historic preservation law, extending to the interior, unlike CFA review. Time will tell if the property that brought down the Nixon administration, helped sink Lehman Brothers, and proved a millstone for Monument will prove more fruitful for its newest investor. 

Washington D.C. commercial real estate news

Your Next Place


By Franklin Schneider

This restored three-level high-ceilinged Victorian was verrrrry classy, so much so that I wore jeans to the open house and was in perpetual fear that the house itself was going to somehow expunge me from the premises, like my grandmother and her first transplanted kidney. (To this day she swears it was because the donor “wasn't Catholic enough.”)

The woodwork, the chandeliers, the hardwood floors – the details here were at once incredibly ornate but also subtle. It's like the house where Elton John would live if he was a professor of semiotics. It just felt like a house where every little thing had been thought about and then gotten just right. The bedrooms are each unique and generously sized, the dining room is fantastic, the kitchen is the ur-kitchen that everyone imagines when they think about “the perfect kitchen,” and the house has four – four! - fireplaces. If I lived here, I'd be committing crimes constantly, just so I could have dramatic late-night evidence-burning sessions.

There's also a huge, beautiful library that could hold almost half the printed-out contents of the cheapest Kindle. (I kid!) And finally, the house comes with parking for two cars or, if you only have one car, a huge doublewide space that you can kind of haphazardly pull into sideways and it doesn't matter, not like when you do it at Whole Foods and the other shoppers key your car.

1412 HOPKINS St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
3 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths

Washington D.C. real estate news

Monday, July 18, 2011

Giant Steps for New Supermarket on H Street

Nearly as promised, Steuart Investment will officially break ground, tomorrow, July 19th, on its Giant-anchored mixed-use development at 3rd and H Streets in Northeast, after having secured the necessary permits one day before Steuart hoped to break ground - July 1st - on the Torti Gallas and Partners designed 286,500 s.f. of retail and residential.

In less than two years, the corner will offer 215 rental apartments, and an alternative big-box, grocery-shopping experience to Murry's down the street at 6th, which has some telling reviews on Yelp.

The new 42,000 s.f. Giant will take up the majority of the first floor in the six story building, with the remaining bulk, floors two through six, being residential. The ground floor will also offer a small, corner retail bay with 22' ceilings, as well as a lobby.

Giant and Steuart Investment shook hands on the deal in November of last year, when other suitors for the lease - Yes! Organic Market, Trader Joe's, and Harris Teeter - were passed over. Clark Builders Group will take six months to dig down (and construct the foundation to grade) before building up, as two floors of underground parking with 270 spaces - 125 for shoppers and 145 for residents - is planned for the site.
When Guy Steuart, director of Steuart Investment, originally submitted plans for a PUD to the District, around 2005, he hoped to build an 8-story structure with three floors of parking, but the plan was deemed too dense, and height and parking were both trimmed. Of construction on the site, Steuart explained, "The mess will be gone by and large in 18 months... the Giant plans to open in the spring of 2013."

Of the design, shown at left (before height was shaved two stories), Sarah Alexander of Torti Gallas explained, "[The goal was] to integrate [it] into the historic fabric of H Street through breaking the building down into three different facades, the main red brick facade takes on more of a contemporary loft aesthetic, the eastern blond brick portion has large glassy bays which help create a rhythm in keeping with the scale of H Street, with setbacks at the upper level, and finally the small townhouse facade on 3rd Street steps down to the adjacent townhouses to the north."

Councilmember Tommy Wells (Ward 6), who is expected to attend the ground breaking, has previously expressed his approval that the development is a four-block walk to-and-from Union Station Metro, and will be located near a Streetcar stop, when the transit project is completed, hopefully in late 2012.

Joining Wells, tomorrow, should be Mayor Vincent Gray, Giant's vice president of sales Shane Sampson, and Steuart.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

IMF's Dupont Hotel on Path to Redesign

The IMF wants to clean up its hotel image. No, not the mental image of DSK in a hotel room (eww), but its image in Dupont Circle-West End, where it has run a nondescript apartment-hotel since 1991 for visiting professionals from the IMF and World Bank. The stately location - a visible corner 2 blocks from Dupont Circle at 21st and New Hampshire Ave. - may offer a convenient respite for employees, kitchenettes and multilingual staff, but its tired structure needs a reinvention befitting its international clientele.

To that end, the IMF will gut and refit the 10-story structure, now with 100 apartment units, into a more contemporary visage, taking the same shape as the existing edifice, and sell the smaller of the two buildings that now make up the Concordia Hotel. The IMF will employ Washington D.C. architects Bonstra | Haresign to redesign the '60's motif by gutting the building and keeping the existing concrete frame.
The IMF will sell off the Bond Building (see picture below), now accounting for 78 of the 178 units of the Concordia and connected on the ground floor. Initial plans are for a LEED Gold certified building that will slightly increase the interior space with the same footprint, gaining additional units over the current 100-unit configuration, adding rooftop amenities for residents. The Concordia, appraised by the DC government for $58m, was designed in 1965 by Berla & Able who, in a more inspired moment, also designed the Omni Shoreham hotel in Woodley Park.

Next door, Bonstra | Haresign's designs are already coming to fruition. The architects designed a pavilion that will add more retail to the corner of New Hampshire and M Streets in the West End, where Meiwah now sits. Construction is about midway to completion.

Even if the thought of DSK makes the idea of staying in an IMF hotel unappealing, at least the avenue will get what is expected to be an upgrade, erasing one more '60's building.

Building permits have not yet been issued for the project.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Your Next Place

By Franklin Schneider

If you had the coolest grandma ever, the kind of grandma who smoked Virginia Slims, who kept her long hair after all the other women cut theirs off, who was always going off on cruises with different guys, who spent Sunday afternoons getting high and listening to Stevie Nicks records, who called people “Doll” and “Love,” who rolled her eyes during grace at holiday dinners, this is where she'd live.

A bright, stylish 2BR/2BA in Foggy Bottom, this place is truly unique. Every period detail has been preserved, from the floors to the furnishings to the kitchen cabinets. Look at these cabinets! I wanted to tear one of the doors off and sneak it out under my jacket. I'm pretty sure they filmed a scene in “Casino” in here. Tons of windows, a den, lots of closets. There's also a massive roof deck and an exercise room, it comes with two storage units, and it's in a full service building with a twenty-four hour front desk. Trader Joe's is close by, the waterfront, the Kennedy Center, GW.

I mean, look at this place! This is probably the coolest place I've ever seen. New “right now” things are okay, but let's be honest, they lack a certain sophistication. New things are … Crocs. Old things, however, are all class. Old things are … Wayfarers. Would you rather live in a “Crocs” place or a “Wayfarers” place?

2475 Virginia Ave Nw #318-319
Washington DC 20037
2 Bedrooms, 2 Bathrooms

Washington D.C. real estate news

Friday, July 15, 2011

Joint Venture to Kick Start Florida Rock on the Anacostia

Florida-based Patriot Transportation Holding Inc. and DC-based Midatlantic Realty Partners LLC (MRP) today revealed that a joint venture between the two will help develop the Florida Rock property near the Nationals Stadium. The combination will bring the necessary capital - $4.5 million from MRP - to the stalled RiverFront on the Anacostia mixed-use project envisioned as 1.1 million s.f. along Potomac Avenue in Southeast, a project that has been planned but idle for years, nominally run by Patriot's wholly-owned subsidiary Florida Rock Properties Inc. (FRP). A spokesperson for Patriot confirmed that there will be an immediate, transformed approach to the four-phase riverfront development project due to "market changes." The first phase will no longer be office space, as was approved by the District as part of the development's Master Plan, but will instead be apartments. The joint venture will again undergo rezoning before beginning construction on phase 1, projected to commence in the spring of 2013, with lease up from fall of 2014 through summer of 2015. Rezoning was previously requested for the industrial area that has for many years contained an active concrete plant on site. In 2008, FRP asserted that it was hoping to break ground on the river front project in May of this year, but was delayed, also due to unforeseen "market changes."Patriot confirmed that FRP will have a 70-percent stake in phase one of the project; phase two through four remain undetermined. More information will be disclosed after Patriot's third-quarter-earnings meeting, the first week of August. 

Washington D.C. retail and commercial real estate news

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Two Artists and an Architect Walk Into a Bar...

By Washington DC commercial design and marketingBeth Herman Washington DC Design news - Beth Herman

…OK, maybe not a bar, but the atmosphere at the double-fisted Washington Glass Studio/Washington Glass School is just as intoxicating, and the two maverick artists and architect-cum-artist who helm them clearly want you to let your hair down and just have at it.
Designing some of the region's - and nation's - most uncommon public art of the last decade, studio projects in 40 states created by the “tripod,” as the three principals call themselves, range from a New Orleans AIDS memorial with multicultural cast glass faces, to a PG County circuit court outdoor copper-and-glass sculpture with components largely reclaimed from a courthouse fire, to a vast series of interior glass panels at the National Institutes of Health—with healing images. Marking a 10-year anniversary and their 4,000th student (in a variety of ages), Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers and Michael Janis are at the pinnacle of a business they say almost wasn’t.
Glass is in session
“We started our school on September 13, 2001,” Tate recalled of the tenebrous days following 9/11. “We thought, oh my God, it’s over. Nothing’s going to happen now.” But everyone they called in light of the tragedy implored them not to cancel classes, and according to Tate, they discovered that in those troubled times people didn’t necessarily want to buy art, they wanted to create it. To that end, classes that run the gamut from grinding and polishing to bas-relief dry plaster casting (of glass) taught and continue to teach motivated students, the school in part funded by the expanding portfolio of the three principals.Washington DC commercial design
For whom the bell tolls
With public art and monuments a predominant theme, Tate described the major fire that destroyed the PG County Circuit Court House in 2004 from which the burned and charred bell tower cupola was salvaged. Reclaiming the copper on top, sand carved panels that contain the seals of each of the Maryland counties served, and cast recycled glass (from a local office building) inserts depicting a judge’s mallet, the scales of justice, a map of PG County and a myriad other relevant images frame a neon bell inside, representing the old bell that would sound at 9:30 a.m. signaling court was in session.
“When we talk about public art, we’re usually talking about larger-scale architectural installations around town and in other states,” Tate explained, adding where possible, the trio tries to reference something old with the new project for cultural, community and sustainable purposes.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
At Bradley and Arlington Boulevards in Bethesda, a 1970s Safeway was something Tate called “a horror –one of the worst in their chain.” With the organization seeking a new aesthetic and undertaking a major redesign of its stores (the newer buildings are a Prairie School style, Tate said), the issue of camouflaging a first floor parking area presented a design challenge for the three gurus of glass. “The last thing they wanted was for people to see a giant parking garage while driving down the street.”
To address the problem, WGS is currently creating a 30-by-9-ft. glass wall with a checkerboard glass pattern, utilizing raised imagery of herbs such as basil, thyme, parsley and more. Some of the glass will be clear with raised imagery, and the rest is amber glass, also with raised imagery. WGS is using reclaimed glass from the former Safeway where possible.
Wherever a section is raised on the amber glass, it bends the light just enough to turn it a “greenish purple-y blue,” Tate said, “so as the light changes, color shifts will happen all day long.”Washington DC commercial design
Prior to the Safeway project, at Food and Friends in D.C., an organization providing food and nutrition counseling to those suffering from HIV, cancer and other ailments, an outdoor memorial/donor recognition wall in a Garden of Remembrance was erected with bas-relief cast glass panels in purple, amber and green glass. Names can be inset into the panels, and when the sun shines the glass bathes the garden in a warm and special light.
Watson, come here!

In the vein of “accidental” discoveries like the telephone, Tate indicated all three principals are well-known artists in their own rights, showing internationally, nationally and locally at large art museums, special exhibitions and other venues. But he revealed their signature prowess evolved from an Erwin Timmers experiment, and has essentially been a work in progress over the last decade.
“Someone had mentioned they’d heard if you push something into dry plaster, you can melt things into it,” Tate recounted of the process, adding it just didn’t seem right. “You’d think the thing would fall apart, or smoosh, with no detail.”

Over what Tate called a very strong objection (“it’s how we do things”) on his part, colleague Timmers tried it, placing his hand into the plaster to make an impression, adding a piece of glass on top which was melted down. Technically, “the heat went on to expand the molecules of the dry plaster, hardening it just enough so that when the glass melts in, it doesn’t move out of the way,” Tate explained, adding they pulled out a piece of glass with Timmers’ fingerprints on it, as it was that detailed. Realizing they had something in this process, Tate said they’ve spent years refining it because they’re using both glass and plaster in ways they were not intended, and formulaic changes need to be made to accommodate seasons and other variables.

A hole by any other name
At EPA headquarters at 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, WGS was commissioned to create what Tate called a “cistern for the gods.” With the agency’s courtyard converted into an “educational, low impact rain runoff project,” according to a website, Tate and team were charged with imagining the design, which included lining an 8-ft.-deep hole with thousands of quarter-inch pieces of glass. This was achieved by lowering an assistant into the abyss to apply silicone and place each component—in the dead of a Mid-Atlantic summer (the principals rewarded him by financing the remainder of his education). A tiered finial at the top, also made of glass, looks like rain dropping into water, with the entire venture illuminated by blue LED’s.
“There is no book on this stuff,” Tate said of the process behind the body of work WGS has produced in the past 10 years. Referencing interior glass sculpture at Washington’s tony Palomar hotel (think cast glass with fused imagery and steel), and a healing glass wall redolent of nature at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, Tate said the time involved from start-to-finish can range from one month to many years.

Tate also said that despite the issues one might connect over time with a public art glass installation, vandalism has been virtually non-existent. In New Orleans, their policemen’s memorial is a glass wall in the worst part of town. Though WGS designs for the contingency where segments of a sculpture or monument can be removed and replaced, rather than starting from scratch, Tate believes there’s a certain “honor” among artists, graffiti or otherwise, out in the world.
“We have never had anyone come up with a hammer and break something. We’ve never had anyone tag something,” he affirmed. “People don’t necessarily want to destroy art.”

Of the perpetuation of WGS’s work, and specifically of his students at the school, Tate said “…a rising tide floats all boats. We try to help everyone achieve their next goal. We came together to make an impact on Washington.”

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