Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Today in Pictures - St. Elizabeths

After nearly a century of being vacant, the District government opened the east side of St. Elizabeths to the public this weekend.  While construction on the federally-owned west side continues in anticipation of a new home for multiple agencies, the District is still creating a plan for what to do with their half - 183 acres with some of the most notable vistas and architecture in the city - which the federal government turned over to the city 25 years ago.  DC's portion still holds patients like John Hinckley Jr., though far fewer patients than the thousands that filled the asylum in the last century.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Union Station Master Plan Released


Amtrak released details this week of a much-talked-about $7 billion plan for Union Station's tracks, platforms, concourses, and parking that will dramatically overhaul the space.
Train shed looking southwest, Image courtesy of Amtrak
Under the Union Station Redeveloment Corporation, Union Station is already undergoing a renovation of its Grand Hall.

In a move officials acknowledged was belated, they said the plan would help the nation's capital catch up with other parts of the world with high-speed rail service.  The plan, they said, would eventually triple the station's passenger capacity and double the train service over the next 20 years.  The plan goes hand in hand with plans for a 1.5 billion dollar project by Akridge development, Amtrak's private partner in the project, to develop the air rights over the train tracks into a $1.5 billion mixed-use project called Burnham Place.

Amtrak and Akridge, Amtrak's private partner on the project, released the master plan this week in a press conference attended by city glitterati, including embattled mayor Vincent Gray.

Greenway looking north along 1st Street, Image: Akridge
Burhnam Place, named after Union Station's original architect Daniel Burnham, is part of Amtrak's master plan, and will be developed by Akridge and architectural firm Shalom Baranes.  Developers plan, over the next 15 years, to build a 3-million square-foot mixed use development over the train tracks.  

In 2006, Akridge purchased the air rights to a total of 15 acres over the Union Station rail yard. The $10 million dollar sale marked the first sale of air rights by the federal government. As reported by DCMud, the conceptual construction plan began to move solidly forward and Shalom Baranes was selected as the architect in 2008.

Interior view of the train shed, Image courtesy of Amtrak
The plan envisions 500 hotel rooms, 100,000 square feet of retail, and 1,300 residential units built on a concrete platform over the tracks and supported columns placed throughout the rail yard.  Akridge went through years of technical negotiations with Amtrak before deciding on a construction plan, and the Smart Growth Alliance and Urban Land Institute (ULI) have both voiced support for the project.

Developers emphasize that the project will feature elements that enhance public space and amenities. One such feature includes a 1.5 mile elevated greenway with a bike lane along the west side of the station that will link the NoMa neighborhoods with Union Station and the Metro and connect to the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

Historic control tower into restaurant, Courtesy: Akridge
Plans also call for a "grand plaza" fronting both sides of H Street that will lead into a brand new Train Hall in what developers say will be "a grand northern entrance to Union Station."  

The plan also calls for pedestrian connections with adjoining neighborhoods, a new entrance near First and K Streets, NE, and a plan to turn the K Tower - a control tower - into a restaurant.

Will office workers and urban sky dwellers feel the rumbling of high-speed trains below them?  That remains to be seen.  What is certain is that the plan makes an ambitious promises to bring more natural light into Union Station, even while building above it.  

Plan overview. Image Courtesy of Akridge.  
Blue represents office space, 
Beige is residential, 
Green / yellow is naturally lit space,  and 
Brown is hotel space.

Red circles are vertical connections,
Red arrows are station entrances.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Your Next Place


 Located in a boutique building just a block west of Dupont Circle, this two-level gem has it all.  An amphitheaterlike open foyer, a floating staircase, hardwood floors, a fireplace, and a massive two-story exposed brick wall.  You enter onto the bedroom level, and the living room, dining room and kitchen are below; this is definitely a one-of-a-kind living space, and if I may be so bold, a prime candidate for a fireman's pole.  This level has beautiful hardwood floors and an awesome fireplace.  If you move into this place, when it gets cold you should get some of those synthetic logs that burn bright pink because, well, this is America.

The recently-updated kitchen boasts a silestone counter and a stone tile floor, as well as top-notch appliances and finishes.  There's acres of counterspace and a ton of cupboards to fill with food that, no matter what it is, will be utterly unappealing when you come home drunk at 3 in the morning. The master bedroom features more exposed brick, and some really cool concealed track lighting; I'd say it was totally masterful, but that would be too obvious.  (It's totally masterful.)

As an added perk, there's a 6.1 surround sound home theater system, so you can experience terrible movies in even greater intensity, and the kitchen is also wired with built-in speakers, so when your significant other is like, "you know, there's no law that says you have to finish a burrito in one sitting," you can quickly reach over and drown them out in midsentence with your music.  Can't put a price on that.

2007 O Street NW #105
2 Bedrooms, 1 Bath

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Victory Square senior community opens in Parkside


Woodridge, Bing Thom, Urban Institute, Victory Square
Victory Square - Photo courtesy of Communi-k
A little neighborhood east of the Anacostia River, in Northeast DC, is set for a slew of groundbreakings and developments, including a ribbon cutting this Thursday for an affordable senior apartment community.  Victory Square, the 98-unit senior community, is just one of the many new developments - built or planned - in DC's Ward 7 neighborhood of Parkside.  The project is part of the Parkside Master Plan, a 15.5-acre area that was acquired by City Interests in 2004.   

City Interests charts a course for growth for the site near the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station. The neighborhood, home to 5,700 residents and described as poor and isolated by the Urban Institute, has seen an influx of planning and educational grants in recent years.  Greater, Greater Washington this year called the Parkside neighborhood a "place to watch".

Parkside Master Plan developers say the Master Plan foresees a "major transit-oriented development, slated to bring homes, services, jobs and educational opportunity to D.C.'s Ward 7."  City Interests gained approval for Stage 1 of the planned unit development (PUD) in 2007, and Stage 2 gained approval in 2011.  The plan calls for 1,500 to 2,000 residential units, up to 50,000 s.f. of retail space, and 500,000 to 750,000 s.f. of office space.

In 2010 the Zoning Commission rejected a bid by developers to delay first stage construction of the project, putting pressure on developers to push forward with the first stage of the project, which includes the Victory Square apartment community, or lose approvals. 

Victory Square Interior with view of Nevel Thomas Elementary School
The Victory Square apartment community for adults aged 55 or older opened in June.  Of the 98 units, 35 are public housing units reserved for the the poorest of the poor.  It is developed through a partnership between Banc of America Community Development Corporation, a subsidiary of Merril Lynch, and Victory Housing, Inc., the affordable housing arm of the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. City Interests is the master PUD developer, but sold .65 acres to BACDC, a subsidiary of Merryl Lynch, to build Victory Square.  Victory Square was designed by Grimm and Parker Architects of Calverton, MD, and constructed by Hamel Builders, Inc., of Elkridge, MD.

The contemporary design includes a fitness room, an arts and crafts room, an on-site beauty salon.  It also has a wellness room where seniors will have access to wellness screenings, such as consultations with health professionals.

"It's been a long time in the making," Maurice Perry, senior vice president with BACDC, told DCMud.  Perry oversaw and managed the development of and financing process for Victory Square. "The rents in our property are relatively inexpensive compared to other apartments," Perry said of the units which are not public housing, and not paid for by housing authorities.  Rents range from $775 for a one-bedroom to $960 for a two-bedroom apartment.  Units range in size from 600 to 750 square feet.  Although the apartments have been open for less than two months, Perry said the units are now 62 percent leased.

Perry said the community was completed in affiliation with Victory Housing, Inc., an affiliate of the Archdiocese of DC.  "They do a lot of affordable housing and they will be the long-term owner of the property," Perry told DCMud.

In addition to adding to the housing options for residents of Ward 7, Perry also thought the housing project signaled good things to come for the neighborhood.  "It's a great neighborhood, residents are really involved, they care about the community, and have a lot of potential."

Victory Square Community Room
Another residential development in the Parkside Master Plan area is Mayfair Mansions, a renovation of 569 historic apartments that now serve as public housing,  by the non-profit Community Preservation and Development Corporation. DCMud reported in 2010 that 160-unit condo element - that had once also been planned for the  Mayfair Mansions project - was pigeonholed permanently.

Other residential units with groundbreakings this summer include Metro Homes at Parkside, an 83-townhome developed by Enterprise and the family of Abe Pollin, and Parkside Townhouses, a complex of 100 market-rate townhouses developed by City Interests. Also slated for groundbreaking this summer is "Park 7", a mixed-use development including 376 apartments developed by Donatelli Development.  Other retail in the Parkside Master Plan includes Ray's the Steaks At East River, which opened in fall 2008, and the renovation of a Safeway, completed in 2009.  

The Parkside Master Plan also foresees offices and health facilities.  It already includes the 227,000 square foot headquarters for the DC Department of Employment, with 700 employees, which was completed in 2010.  A groundbreaking is planned this summer for the DC Primary Care Association, a 43,000 s.f. primary care facility owned and operated by Unity Health, according to project developers.

Victory Square was built using tax exempt bond financing in the form of a construction loans from Bank of America, the DC Housing Authority, the District's Department of Housing and Community Development and tax-exempt bond financing from Bank of America. The project also received Federal stimulus dollars by way of the DC Housing Production Trust Fund. The National Equity Fund provided $4.85 million in low-income housing tax credit equity proceeds. Victory Square is located at 600 Barnes St., NE.  The ribbon cutting will be held July 26 at 10:00 a.m.  The community is located between the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station and the Anacostia waterfront, in northeast DC.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Future Union Market Debuts

The Union Market, set to open in September

DC's Union Market, housed in the former Union Terminal Market hall at 5th and Florida, NE, and being revitalized by Edens, hosted a preview party this Saturday.  The soon-to-open venue's "Summer Picnic Spectacular" featured numerous local food trucks and future market vendors performing their trade inside and outside.

Despite a persistent drizzle, a large, age-diverse crowd gathered at Union Market to get a sneak peak, eat, and listen to local DJs including SoulCall Paul.  The new Union Market is set to open in September.  For an entry fee, the building was open to the public for one-time only preview before the building's official opening.  JCA Architects is the project's architectural firm.

The interior features an open, market-hall style space with exposed ventilation, drop lighting, and stalls for at least 40 future vendors.  Union Market adjoins the NoMA Business Improvement District (BID) and is situated in a larger neighborhood of 100 wholesale food vendors and businesses employing more than 1,500 people in food production and distribution, according to the Union Market web site.

The Union Market web site includes a comprehensive history of the Union Terminal market.  The outdoor portion of that market opened to the public in 1931 but moved inside to the current Union Market structure, built in 1967, when the District banned the outdoor sale of meat and eggs, according to Edens' historical information. 

The restored Union Market will also feature 11 restaurants, DCMud has reported.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Your Next Place


This Capitol Hill Victorian home oozes more class and sophistication than a sack of Kate Middletons.  From the moment you walk in the double door entry, you know you're in an exceptional house.

The fabulous living room features an antique fireplace and twin chandeliers, as well as discreet recessed lighting and gleaming hardwood floors.  The dining room is perfect for formal entertaining - and the kitchen!  God, the kitchen.  This might be the biggest kitchen I've ever seen; for sure it has the most counter space.  The owner told me that a small single-engine plane once made an emergency landing on this counter, that's how long it is.  (Not really.)  But seriously, no matter how many dishes you scatter around, no matter how many unopened bills you heedlessly toss onto it, no matter how many styrafoam takeout containers you neglect to throw away, you will never ever use up all the counter space.  That's my promise to you.  My meaningless, non-legally-binding promise.

Upstairs, the master bedroom is super bright and super big, and the master bath features a separate freestanding shower, and a jacuzzi tub.  So you can sit OR stand while embarrassing yourself with your singing.  Best of all, the lower level is a two-bedroom apartment that you can rent out to defray the cost of your mortgage, or that you can move your secret lover into and pretend is a legitimate tenant.  It's a horrible idea, sure, but what a story to tell at the bar!

411 G Street SE
5 Bedrooms, 3.5 Baths

Thursday, July 19, 2012

City Awards Unoccupied Brightwood School to Washington Latin Charter School


The Rudolph School building in Brightwood / Fort Totten
One of four empty school buildings in DC that the District's Department of General Services put up for public charter school bidding in April has been awarded to Washington Latin Charter School.  This week, DGS and the Deputy Mayor for Education recommended that the city award the Rudolph School, located at 5200 2nd Street, NW, in the Brightwood / Fort Totten neighborhood of Northwest DC, to Washington Latin.

Washington Latin, which is going into its sixth year, features a classical curriculum and Latin language education starting in the 5th grade. The school also has a full athletic program, and also teaches the modern languages Arabic, French, and Chinese.  Washington Latin currently occupies three buildings on 16th Street, but plans to spend $15 million to occupy the 84,000 square foot former Rudolph School facility in Brightwood by August, 2013.  Mark Lerner, president of the Washington Latin board of governors, said Washington Latin would finance the restoration with a commercial loan, and then repay it with the facility allotment that charter schools receive from the District.

Future home of Washington Latin, which has an athletic program
While the Rudolph School closed in 2008 because of low occupancy, DC's public charter schools often face a different problem: space limitations and growing student bodies.  "Every charter school gradually adds grades per year, and many charter schools close because they can't grow because they can't solve this facility problem," said Lerner.

Lerner said Washington Latin started in 2006 with 179 but that the school now served 600 students from all eight wards of the District in grades 5-12.  The school offers bus pickups for students in Ward 3, where the school first began in 2006, and at Union Station.

The Rudolph School closed in 2008 due to low enrollment
Most charter schools, Lerner said, open in temporary locations because they don't have full enrollment when they open.  "Parents and staff become eventually dissatisfied if you don't have appropriate facilities," he told DCMud.  "Our being awarded Rudolph is a major milestone for the school," Lerner said.  "It gives us a permanent space."

Deputy Mayor for Education De'Shawn Wright wrote in a press release, "Ultimately, the panel recommended Washington Latin based on a strong performance record and an exciting proposal for reusing the building."

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Today in Pictures - Progression Place

Progression map of Shaw redevelopment and architecturePlace may be only one of numerous projects underway in Shaw, but it will be one of the first large development to be completed.  Developers began work in 2010 on with 100,000 s.f. of office space, a 205-unit residential apartment building, and 20,000 square feet of street-level retail. The project was designed by architects Eric Colbert & Associates and Devrouax + Purnell, and built by Davis Construction. Devrouax Purnell, Ellis Development, Shaw, Progression Place, Jarvis Company, retail
Ellis Development, The Jarvis Company, and Four Points combined forces to build the project above the Shaw Metro station. 
Shaw construction: DP Architecture, Washington DCretail project for rentWashington DC retail under construction - Progression PlaceEllis Development, Jarvis Company, Four Points, DP Architecture, Shaw MetroNew construction in Washington DCRetail for rent in Washington DCreal estate news in Washington DCNew building at the Metro station in ShawRetail opportunities coming in Shaw, DC

Washington, D.C real estate development news

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