Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Your Next Place

By Franklin Schneider

This house looks exactly like me when I'm at the club; not as tall as the two dudes on each side of me, but clearly much, much classier. If you could airbrush a pencil mustache onto the facade of the house and put, like, a scale-model PBR tallboy in front, the resemblance would be perfect.

I wouldn't say the house looks small initially, but the inside is far larger than you'd think if you were on the outside looking in. There are high ceilings and wide-open spaces and long uninterrupted sightlines everywhere, and distinctive tall windows. There's a double living room with two fireplaces, so you can segregate your guests by political party. (Third party supporters have to sit in the yard.) There are also a striking number of built-in bookshelves scattered throughout the house; I don't think I've ever seen a house with enough shelving for not only all my books but also for prized VHS tape collection. (VHS tapes are going to be the new vinyl, you just wait.) Out back is a fantastic lush garden, the perfect place to have breakfast or to unwind after work with a drink or eight.

If you lived here you'd also get the obscure prestige of having a two-digit house number (mine has four digits – lame!). And the house is just a stone's throw from the House and Senate office buildings, the Capitol building, and the Supreme Court, so if representative democracy is your “thing,” this is the place for you. Late at night, you can sometimes hear them making freedom over there. (Spoiler: it's made out of greenhouse gases.)

19 2nd St NE
3 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Freshly Baked, New Design for Wonder Bread Building in Shaw

R2L:Architects' Sacha Rosen has, this week, completed new design schematics for the adaptive reuse plan by Douglas Development for the old Wonder Bread/White Cross Bakery. Review of the design, by the Historic Preservation Review Board, could be as early as September 22nd.

The early-20th-Century brick buildings currently crumbling at 641 S Street, NW in Shaw, are also up for historic landmark status, and will be remade into "funky" office and retail space.

Of the recently completed design (below), Rosen says, "Our concept of the classic industrial north-facing skylights adds to the unique qualities of the building - and is great for energy savings. We think of the design as a barge stacked with shipping containers, which represents the mobile, international qualities of business in the new economy."

Currently two and three stories tall, the structure will be raised to three and four, and new basement space will be created, increasing the structure to approximately 60,000 s.f.

One retailer will be allowed half the ground floor, which will split uses - 25 parking spots will take up the back half.  The final 4th floor of office space is only located on the eastern-most portion, making it approximately half that of the others:

Retail space in the basement could be turned into a "cool underground" establishment, says Rosen, such as a bar, billiard hall, or restaurant. No retailers have been signed, as the project will be speculatively built, but Paul Millstein of Douglas says he expects something good to fall in place, considering the uniqueness of the building, and what he considers a "very cool project."

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Monday, August 29, 2011

MRP to Begin Phase One of Washington Gateway in NoMa

MRP Realty will soon move forward with a long- awaited three-phase, 1-million-sf mixed-use project on 3 acres in northern NoMa. Matthew Robinson, Senior VP of MRP, says the $360-million project known as Washington Gateway will break ground before the end of the year, with the first phase residential and retail. The project has been planned since at least 2006, with several near starts over the past 5 years.

At the intersection of Florida and New York Avenue, NE, the Washington Gateway development team will seek financing on a rolling basis. As for now, the team is focused solely on phase one: 400 units of residential in an 11-story building with 5,200 sf of retail.

In terms of getting the first phase off the ground, all seems to be in line for MRP. An equity partner is in place, construction loans are in the works, construction (sheeting/shoring/excavation) permits have been applied for, and a building permit will be filed at the end of September, according to Robinson. One year into construction, MRP plans to start phase two, which will consist entirely of office space. Further down the road, phase three will consist of office space and a retail component.

Nearly 1 million square feet of built area in all, the three-building project consists of approximately 350,000 sf of residential, 600,000 sf of office, and 12,200 sf of retail. The original plan called for significantly less residential space - 260 units versus 400 - with the space going to a 181-room hotel - a component that was scratched due to changing market needs as perceived by the development team.

Robinson says that getting rid of the hotel component, "makes the residential building better. The additional space allows for greater residential amenities [in the form of] increased shared spaces, [including] an extensive 3,700 square foot club room, and two-story fitness center." A rooftop pool and lounge area will offer "Capitol dome views," adds Robinson.

The 11-story residential building was designed by SK&I, and will be built under general contractor Davis Construction. Construction, if underway before the end of the year, should be complete within the next two years. The two 11-story office buildings, to be included in phase two and three, were designed by Gensler. And although the same height, the grade on site varies by about 40', confirms Robinson, creating a height variation optical illusion.

The overall design of the whole Washington Gateway project is a hollowed-out glassy triangle (labeled number 3 on the map to the left), offering an inner triangle of public space, accessible by an opening on Florida Avenue. All retail will front Florida Ave; retail tenants are being pursued, though phase one will be built on spec. Retail will most likely include "neighborhood serving retail," says Robinson, including sidewalk cafes.

Also a part of the development will be a widening, and repaving of the sidewalks along both Florida and New York Avenues. New trees and street furnishings will be added, and landscape architecture design will be the work of Oculus.

"It's exciting right now in NoMa," says Robinson. Washington Gateway will be followed by Camden Property Trust's 60 L Street, NE (1 & II), located just east of the new NPR headquarters currently under construction. Camden's 60 L Street will become NoMa's largest residential building, with 730 units, if it goes through as planned.

Mill Creek Residential's NoMa West, the largest single-phase residential project in NoMa to date includes 603 apartments with a single retail store. Located north of the FedEx building (just north of Washington Gateway) the Mill Creek project broke ground in March, and aims to finish in the spring of 2014.

Several other projects with substantial residential and office space are planned for the NoMa BID, including the Bristol Group's NoMa Station (II - IV), a follow-up to One NoMa Station (400,000 sf office, and 5,000 sf retail) next door at 131 M Street. NoMa Station II-IV is a massive mixed use project to front 1st Street between M and L Streets, NE, made up of: 700,000 sf office, 50,000 sf retail, and 700 residential units.

8/30 correction: 350,000 s.f. of residential, not 290,000 s.f.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Your Next Place


By Franklin Schneider

"A condo that lives like a townhouse." That's according to the copy from the listing on this one. I tried to confirm how exactly it lived for myself, but the agent found me hiding in the downstairs closet after the open house and threatened to call the police. The most embarrassing part was asking her to help me carry my bags out.

Nevertheless, it strikes me as a plausible claim. After all, the place is extremely roomy, a beautiful high-ceilinged unit sprawled over three levels. Very townhouse-y. One of the most striking things about the place, both from the outside and the inside, is the sheer number of windows. The vaulted, amphitheatre-like living/dining area is flooded with light from several very large windows going nearly from floor to ceiling, and the master bedroom is almost nothing but windows.

The unit also features two and a half of the nicest bathrooms I've seen, done up in blue tile and gray marble, respectively. They're so nice that if I lived here I'd probably run up the street to Starbucks every time nature called, so as not to defile their perfection. There's also a den in which you can sit and pretend to read a thick leatherbound book when there are guests over who you want to impress, and a very spacious deck from which you can survey your kingdom (also known as Ye Olde Dupont). Ideally situated between AdMo and DupCir (I'm going to keep using that until it catches on), you're close to pretty much everything; restaurants, nightlife, shopping. The unit also comes with garage parking, so no more waking up in the middle of the night wondering if you moved your car for street cleaning.

1624 18th St. NW
2 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths

Friday, August 26, 2011

CSIS Headquarters Under Construction Next Month

In exactly one month, September 26th, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will begin construction on its new headquarters at 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, NW.

While a misleading "symbolic groundbreaking" took place in May, the event was mostly fanfare, done in large part for the benefit of the Board, confirms CSIS's external relations department. Four months later, CSIS will move dirt.

The new $100-million headquarters, designed by Hickok Cole Architects, will be 9 stories, 130,000 sf, and should achieve LEED-Silver certification, with substantial help from a green roof. HITT Contracting is the general contractor on the project.

CSIS is moving from its current, 50-year location at 1800 K Street, NW, when the project completes in the fall of 2013. CSIS bought its new 15,400-sf property in the Golden Triangle in 2007, for what was reported to be just over $31 million. With the sale came the working PUD which was approved by the DC Office of Zoning in August of 2009.

CSIS's new home will be sandwiched between the Human Rights Campaign headquarters, and the University of California Washington Center building, which sits on the other half of the PUD site. The property fronts 230' of Rhode Island Ave and the new structure will take up virtually all - 99.5% - of the site, which once held the Gramercy Inn, but has been a parking lot for some time.

Update 9/28: According to a CSIS spokesperson, ground breaking has been pushed back to mid-October, or "worst case scenario November 1st," due to subcontractor liaisons affecting the sheeting and shoring portion of construction

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cathedral Commons Delayed Until 2012

Redevelopment of the Wisconsin Avenue Giant, a project that has inspired both relief and resentment, and has suffered from numerous lawsuits by a small group of locals hoping to derail the mixed-use project, seems destined to maintain the status quo well into next year. Despite notice early this summer that the missing financial partner could be on board "any day now," the project still lacks the financial partner needed to move forward, and store employees now tell DCMud that the store will remain open through the end of the year, at least.

Developers have successfully fended off various lawsuits attempting to stop Cathedral Commons (some claims are still being pursued), but what the suits have failed to do seems to have been accomplished by the market, as timelines continue to slip with the absence of funding. Early predictions had the project well underway, if not complete by this time. In 2006 officials thought the project could take 4 years to complete, and at least one team member told DCMud in 2008 that construction would begin within a year. The team then scheduled an aborted "launch party" nearly one year ago. Early this summer vendors began clearing out, and knowledgeable parties to the transaction predicted movement was at last imminent. But the Giant remains operational, and this week officials at Stop & Shop, Giant's parent company, told store employees to expect to work into next year.

Parties now say the financial partner is still not official (and won't release names), and Sharon Robinson, a PR captain for Giant, confirmed, "There is not another financial partner in the development at this time." Robinson added that Giant aims to break ground "sometime after the first of the year." Robinson insists that the project has not been delayed. "The PUD is still valid and Giant is moving forward with plans to redevelop Friendship Shopping Center and filed plans for its building permits last week." No general contractor has been selected.

The project will add a new 56,000 s.f. grocery store, 85,000 s.f. of additional ground floor retail, 150 condos or apartments and over 500 parking spaces, and bring back the familiar neon Giant sign that graces the present supermarket.

Robinson added by email that, "The lawsuit challenging the authority of the Zoning Commission, which was filed by a small group of opponents, is moving through the judiciary process. Many neighbors continue to contact the development team expressing dismay at the lawsuit and asking how they might show support for the project." While that may be helpful, it seems that for now it is also not quite enough.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

NCPC Unveils Map of DC Memorials


Ever find yourself sitting home on a Friday, wishing you could remember where the memorial to Dante Alighieri was? Wonder no more. The National Capitol Planning Commission has the map for you. The NCPC production is an interactive map of each plot of land in Washington D.C. dedicated to a remembrance of events great, and well, not so great. Lincoln is on the map, to be sure, but so are 129 other lesser known memorials whose importance is often overlooked by tourists and teens looking for a site not often patrolled by the Park Service.

The map highlights such lesser known locations as the memorial to James Buchanan, for those wanting to pay tribute to the man that did little to stop the Civil War. Or, stop by the memorial to Discobolus, the "Gift of appreciation from Italy to U.S. honoring American efforts to return Italian sculpture (including the original Myron "Discobolus" statue) to Italy after it was seized by the Nazis." Possibly not as momentus as Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, but obviously worth a permanent commemoration.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beltway's Tallest Building to Launch in October

Hoffman Management Inc. will soon build the tallest tower, within the capital beltway, in Alexandria's low-lying Eisenhower Valley East.

Hoffman recently awarded the general contractor position for its Hoffman Towers, a component of the expansive Hoffman Town Center, to Clark Construction Group. Clark is accepting bids from subcontractors through early September, and expects to begin construction on the residential towers in October.

The towers, designed by Davis Carter Scott, will consist of three high rise components - 33, 28 and 22 stories tall. The 33-story tower is 396' tall; a mere six feet taller than Monday Properties' 1812 North Moore St, which is currently under construction and set to deliver first quarter 2013. Yet the Hoffman Towers will rise up in a valley that is only 18' above sea level, whereas 1812 North Moore - a 390' tall, 35-story office building - might loom larger, as it sits on ground in Rosslyn that is near 100' above sea level.

When completed, the Hoffman Towers will contain 1,197 apartments (55 affordable) and offer 1,162 parking spaces, at block 11 and 12 of the Hoffman Town Center.

Block 11, closest to the beltway, will house a new 50,000-s.f. Harris Teeter; the grocer has a contract ensuring its occupancy in the building by December of 2013, when phase 1 of the project is set to deliver - a feasible timeline if construction is soon underway.

Construction of block 12, closest to Eisenhower Avenue, will coincide with the City's redevelopment of the Eisenhower Ave Metro station, and a new Metro Plaza - paid for by the development team - which will serve as a public gathering place of sorts, near 19,000 s.f. of new retail (in block 12) broken up into several spaces, including some 200-s.f. "retail pockets." The project is located across the street from AMC Hoffman cinemas, already the region's highest grossing theater.

The development site plan has not been approved or released by the City of Alexandria; the City is waiting on comments from one last reviewer, after which the plan - with notes of concerns to be addressed - will then go to the development team for agreement.

Alexandria, Virginia real estate development news

Douglas Picks Up Another Penn Quarter Site

Douglas Development has picked up another building, this time a club in the making. After letting many of its DC-area properties slide toward tax sale for lack of tax payments, Douglas has picked up the Equitable Building at 915 F Street, NW, a building that had been previously pushed as the Museum of Arts and Sciences (MoA&S), a place where nothing was as it seemed.

Douglas' plans for the building are unclear. Owners of the building, who paid $10m in a recent sale, gave in to Douglas' negotiating ability for a sale price of $5m. The building was planned for the MoA&S, which in fact would have been a large, 3-floor dance club serving alcohol late into the night.

Peter Andrulis, through The Equitable Place LLC, bought the property for $10 million in June of 2009, hoping to turn it into a hot spot for receptions, fund-raising events, and art shows (read: partying) in the Penn Quarter neighborhood.

There had been serious concern from residents that the business operating under the moniker "Museum" and purporting to act as an "educational" event space for curated art events, live performances, poetry readings, and the like, was a guise for a nightclub like Platinum to be reincarnated. The MoS&A was shut down after only a couple soft openings in late 2010, and prior to its planned 2011 New Year's Eve grand opening.

Washington D.C. Real Estate Development News

Your Next Place


By Franklin Schneider

If this place is still on the market by the time this post goes live, then the economy must be even worse than the politicians are pretending it is. A stone's throw from U Street, this carriage house is definitely one of the most unique places I've seen in the District, and at just 419K, buyers should be lining up like it's free cupcake day in Georgetown.

Completely renovated and with a private entry, this place is basically like a luxurious urban cabin. You walk in off Caroline Street into a wide living room with a beautiful peaked skylight and fireplace. Directly adjacent to that is the dining area and, down a short flight of stairs, a surprisingly large (though not “large”) kitchen with exposed brick and breakfast bar. The two bedrooms are full of light and the master bath features a dual sink vanity and a walk-in shower big enough for eight people (or one incredibly obese one.)

I mean, the place isn't huge, but it's not tiny, either. I would describe it as “just right.” I think houses are much like cars in that size is overrated – if you've ever had to parallel park or fill up the gas tank of an SUV, you know what I mean. It's the law of diminishing returns; there's nothing sadder than visiting your friends in their new huge house and seeing that a full third of it is basically empty. (“And this is the room where we keep our empty cardboard boxes.”) Really, the only reason you need a big house with tons of space is if you live with people that you can't stand. And shouldn't we, as adults, be past that sort of thing? (And will someone please tell that to my parents?)

1919 16th St NW #1
2 Bedrooms, 1 Bath

Washington D.C. real estate news

Monday, August 22, 2011

MLK Jr Memorial Unveiled Today

The recently finished Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, located in West Potomac Park at the intersection of West Basin Drive and Independence Avenue, SW, is officially open to the public, as of 11 am today.

The Memorial is the work of design-build team McKissack & McKissack, Turner Construction, Gilford Corporation, and Tompkins Builders Inc.

This week will play host to a number of events in advance of the official dedication on Sunday, August 28th, at 11 am. The dedication ceremony will be free and open to the public - preceded by music at 8:30 am and followed by a free concert, at 2 pm.

Entrance to the memorial begins at one of its principal symbols - the "mountains of despair," a reference in King's "I Have a Dream" speech. The twin granite slabs frame the entry, a pair of 30-foot stones 12 feet apart, appearing to have been sliced and parted, with inscriptions from the 1963 speech. Emulating the civil rights struggle, despair will lead to a path beyond, and having passed through it emerges the view of a single stone, the "stone of hope," appearing as if cleaved from - but beyond - the struggle.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Heritage Foundation Razes Capitol Hill Church

This morning, The Heritage Foundation razed the former Unity Baptist Church at 424-426 3rd Street, NE, after getting approval from the Historic Preservation Review Board at the end of June. The plan, which was proposed to the Historic Preservation Office in advanced of the visit to the HPRB, is "for a new residential building on the site, with this proposal coming before the Board later this year or early next in an effort to minimize the time that the lot remains vacant." In the meantime, the Foundation has said that they will, "fence the area and plant it with grass to ensure that it does not become an ad-hoc parking area." The HPO staff report stated that ad-hoc parking on this site has "been a problem in recent years." The Foundation claims that an architect has "already been employed to begin work on plans," however, plan specifics and the architect selected were not disclosed. 

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Your Next Place

By Franklin Schneider

Me personally, I like living in the city, with all that entails. I like the density, the traffic, the sirens, the gunshots, the trash, the crackheads fornicating in my backyard (tip: while scolding, shouting, and threatening to call the police will not repel them, blasting Danzig out the window will make them withdraw (get it?) almost instantly).

But (surprise) not everyone feels the same affection for the urban jungle. I know a lot of people who live in the city reluctantly, bemoaning at every opportunity the lack of space, the lack of greenery, but they have to live in the city for work, etc. If that sounds like you, this is the house you should be looking at. Located in heart-of-the-city Bloomingdale, it nevertheless feels like a semi-rural country house. It overlooks McMillan Reservoir, so all you see from your seat on the large front porch is trees and grass almost all the way to the horizon. The only other place in D.C. you’d get a view like this is around Rock Creek Park, and that would be at least three times more expensive. But while the views are quaint, the house is very much modern.

The open first floor is painted in a muted palette of yellows, blues and reds, with an expansive dining room and a large living room boasting a stone fireplace. There are windows everywhere, and the place is perpetually (almost) flooded with light. Upstairs is a fireplace-insert wood stove that will keep the entire level toasty come winter. An expansive master bedroom features exposed brick walls and an incredible closet illuminated by recessed lighting and fronted with frosted glass. It also has a two-car garage in back (that opens onto Channing Street, not onto an alley – all you drivers know exactly why this is exceptional), and a wonderful backyard with a huge patio and raised-bed gardens. Best of all, the basement is a separately-metered one bedroom unit with a private entrance, so your pastoral urban country house could potentially be financed entirely by a future tenant. America!

2429 1st St. NW
Washington DC 20001
4 Bedrooms, 3 Baths

Friday, August 19, 2011

New Retail Center South of Georgetown's Social Safeway, Coming Soon

When the new Safeway at 1855 Wisconsin Avenue NW was constructed, the parking lots to the south, on Wisconsin Avenue, were left untouched, to be developed later. Later is now, as Safeway Inc. began work this week on the project, which also includes renovation of an existing building, south of the lots.

A retail center - known as Georgetown East Park Center - described as a "continuation of [Safeway's] overall Georgetown project," by Safeway spokesperson Craig Muckle, is now under construction, by Roche Constructors.

Superseding the parking lot will be a brick building (a nod to the look and feel of the Safeway) with three retail spots fronting Wisconsin Avenue. The building will be connected, by an archway over a driveway, to an existing brick building (at 1815 Wisconsin Ave) which will be revamped, and will retain two storefronts on Wisconsin.

Einstein Bros Bagels, now closed for construction, occupied the corner location of the monolithic brick building at 1815 Wisconsin Avenue, which once housed four retailers, but will soon house three.

Though the building's envelope will remain largely as is, the face on Wisconsin Ave will be split into two distinct architectural styles; additionally both styles will be unique from that of the new building to the north.

The project was designed by Torti Gallas and Partners, under the direction of lead architect Brian O'Looney, along with architect of record Rounds VanDuzer Architects; the same team was responsible for the Safeway next door, which delivered in May of 2010.

Rounds Van Douzer Architects, out of Falls Church, has also designed the Bethesda Safeway, coming in September.

In 2008, Safeway Inc. formed the subsidiary - Property Development Centers (PDC) - with the goal of developing grocery-anchored retail centers nationwide. Safeway Inc. also purchased the retail building at 1815 Wisconsin Ave in 2008, for $4.2 million.

KLNB Retail is responsible for the leasing of five new tenants for the retail center; Einstein Bros Bagels is set to return, but will likely settle into the new northern building, not its old corner spot.

Another, nearly identical brick building to the south of 1815, at 1803-1805 Wisconsin Avenue, NW - now occupied by Sherwin Williams Paint and Next Day Blinds - is not owned by Safeway, and will not be redeveloped.

Amendment to article, 8/22: In response to some confusion over what kind of retail will be offered at the center, a previously included mock-up layout has been replaced by one without the names of any potential retailers, as lease-ups on site have not been confirmed.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Thursday, August 18, 2011

County Rolls Out Arlington Mill Next Wednesday

Arlington will roll out the pomp next Wednesday for Arlington Mill, a community center on Arlington's Columbia Pike that will soon be followed by an affordable housing project. The county demolished the previous buildings last spring, and will likely start actual construction next month.

The community center portion of the project will cost an estimated $24 to 25 million and include a gym, learning center, public plaza and garage, crafted by architects at Davis Carter Scott. Residences on the north side developed by Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH), and designed by Kishimoto Gordon Dalaya Architecture (KGD) are scheduled to begin construction in 2012 with a targeted completion date of late 2013. No general contractor has been selected yet.

Under Arlington's agreement with APAH, the county will build the garage for both the community center and the residential portion, and APAH will then reimburse the county for its expense. "We are hoping to close and break ground...sometime towards the end of Q2 2012" says David Perrow, Project Manager for Arlington Mill. The affordable housing provider will be waiting in the wings, starting work on housing when the county finishes construction.

Residences will include 121 "tax-credit units" that will be open to individual making 60% or less of area median income. In return for affordable housing, the state of Virginia has granted APAH a $2.13m tax credit per year for 10 years, a credit that can be marketed to a financial partner. "We can sell that on the equity market," says Perrow. Construction of the community center should complete by next summer.

Arlington, Virginia real estate development news

DCmud - The Urban Real Estate Digest of Washington DC Copyright © 2008 Black Brown Pop Template by Ipiet's Blogger Template