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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Shops at Dakota Crossing and Costco to Start Now, Open Next Year

It's official. The District and the developers of the Shops at Dakota Crossing - a forthcoming 42-acre big-box retail destination revolving around Costco - have struck a deal.

On Friday, the development team, facilitated by a $46.5-million construction loan, acquired the Fort Lincoln land from the District. In turn, the District pledged a final $17 million in tax increment financing (TIF) subsidies. The site is now ready for construction to begin on the 430,000-s.f. mall, capping a portion of the city's urban renewal retail redevelopment vision for Fort Lincoln that dates back to the '70s.

Joint developers Trammel Crow Companies, Fort Lincoln New Town Corporation (FLNTC), and CSG Urban Partners (a CBE partner) will commence site work immediately ("any day now" sources say) to prepare for a formal ground breaking - likely in January or February - under general contractor Harvey Cleary.

The approximately $60-million project, with urban planning/architecture by Bignell Watkins Hasser, was also on hold pending environmental approvals, secured about a month ago says Cel Bernardino, VP of Development and Construction for FLNTC. Bernadino adds that despite skeptical press of late, the project still has the interest of several big retailers, and that the loss of Target, which is halting expansion nationwide, is not fatal. In addition to Dakota Crossing, Target at one time was also considering - but abandoned - both Georgetown Park and Skyland.

All incoming retailers will benefit from the $17 million in TIF subsidies from the District, which has supported the development as a neighborhood improvement initiative. Developers expect Costco to be open for business in less than a year - next November - just in time for large-scale, back-your-truck-up holiday shopping.

As for the rest , the Washington City Paper pointed out earlier this fall that it appears that the development is moving forward essentially on spec, after Shoppers Food Warehouse (and pharmacy) and Target pulled out of the site. But Bernardino says that although that lease has not been signed, Shoppers, along with plenty of others, did not back away and continue to eye the site, but that Costco is driving the project. "Costco has always been the big dog."

In all, the plan allows for 26 tenants in 13 buildings at the Shops, but as of now, only 182,060 of the 430,000 s.f. has been claimed by tenants: 154,000 s.f. by Costco and 28,060 s.f. by Marshalls. After Costco's building is delivered late next year, the rest of the development will continue to rise and retailers are expected to be able to settle into spaces by mid-2013.

CBRE has been responsible for leasing retail space at the Shops' site, which the company is marketing as "a strategic location on New York Avenue/Route 50... [with] easy access to an impressive 100,000 vehicles per day." Of these vehicle passersby, 2,500 will be able to swoop into a parking spot at the Shops.

Bounded by New York Avenue NE, South Dakota Avenue and 33rd Place, the location was hotly debated because the site is currently a forested area with wetlands that filter waste and prevent flooding. In order to move forward, the developers agreed to incorporate a new wetland into the site, with the design reviewed and approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA, and the District Dept. of the Environment.

Additionally, in April of 2010, the District committed $3 million toward an effort to construct stormwater management ponds that will support the entire 360-acre Fort Lincoln redevelopment area, which includes the $80-million residential portion, The Villages at Dakota Crossing, with 334 townhomes and condominiums. The first of three phases will be underway soon, development of the site (roads, etc.) has already begun. Ryan Homes expects the first phase - construction of 63 townhomes and 11 townhome condominums (2 condos contained in each, for a total of 22 condos) to begin to deliver in 2012. Sales have begun, and already 15 condos have sold.

In the decades since developers of the Shops have been trying to gain ground, players have come and gone, and then come back again. Before Trammel Crow was involved, it was The Peterson Companies, and before The Peterson Companies there was Federal Realty Investment Trust and Trammell Crow. When Peterson Companies bowed out in 2007, Trammell Crow Companies stepped back in.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Costco Tantalizing DC's Gateway

Twenty years in the making, and plans to develop Washington DC's first Costco at Dakota Crossing are still trudging along. The stage set is a remote patch of forested land in the Fort Lincoln neighborhood, better recognized as the land opposite the Washington Times on Route 50. The players are likely to be Costco and Target, potentially Shoppers Food Warehouse and Staples, even Walmart was once in the lineup. The director is Fort Lincoln New Town Corporation, which brought in Peterson Companies to develop retail as part of a mixed-use, suburban-style shopping center with housing, offices, retail and acres of parking lots. When Peterson bowed out in 2007, Trammell Crow Companies stepped in to oversee its stock and store - big box power centers. All that is missing is the financing and wetland remediation plan approval from the city. And, of course, final commitment from at least one of the big retailers.

The site seems a developer's dream: 42 empty, contiguous acres, flanking one of DC's main migratory routes. Because it is situated in the residential Fort Lincoln neighborhood and nearby industrial uses are mostly defunct, residents pine for a major retail center somewhere, anywhere, in their quadrant. The plan shows 430,000 s.f. of retail served by 2500 surface parking spaces, connected to a 362-acre housing development planned across the street - The Village at Dakota Crossing, with 537 townhouses, 30 affordable workforce units, 500 more parking spaces and a pedestrian-friendly layout with wide sidewalks, tot-lots and community spaces. The land is a stone's throw away from the National Arboretum and within a 5-minute walk of the Anacostia River But development has hit two main obstacles. The first is getting retailers to commit to a large project in a suburban setting, which tests current financing models, although Costco has signed a non-binding Letter of Intent to occupy the property. The other is the dated nature of the plans: 20 years ago, paving over a large, unused plot in the city to build a regional shopping center would have easily passed city government hurdles, whatever the environmental or historic implications. But the contentious, yet sought-after site is now entirely forested and home to wetlands, filtering nearby industrial waste and acting as a natural barrier against flooding. "Our plans call for creating new, high quality wetlands near the retail center as mitigation for taking away the existing wetlands, which have been documented as very low quality, marginally functioning wetlands. 

 These plans are currently being reviewed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA, and will be reviewed by D.C. DOE once the federal regulators finish," said Cel Bernardino of Fort Lincoln New Town Corp. He also noted that the current plan "envisions a model 'green' shopping center with cisterns, green roofs, green walls, and other LID (Low Impact Development) measures." Costco has been eying this site for the past ten years. Target and Shoppers do not lag far behind in enthusiasm. They might all benefit from TIF (tax increment financing) subsidies from the District, which has supported the development as a neighborhood improvement initiative. Costco alone expects $15 million in TIF financing. But the District must mediate between the environment, small business owners who have fought the behemoth onslaught of all-in-one-for-a-portion-of-the-price big boxes, and competing revitalization projects throughout the city. "The Office of Planning has worked very closely with the development team to ensure the project is green and pedestrian friendly," reported Victoria Leonard, Director of Policy and Strategic Communications in the office of Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. The District likes it so much it plans on paying $3 million upfront to build retention ponds to offset the 3000 new parking spaces. The funding would come out of the D.C. libraries capital budget, an initiative spearheaded by Council Member Thomas, who noted that "the Shops at Dakota Crossing have been in the books for a decade" back in April of 2009. The funds are being transferred from a Ward 7 libraries project, which should begin to see repayment in 2011. Ward 5 library services will remain unaffected.

According to data on the Deputy Mayor's website, Dakota Crossing envisions that residents would walk to the shops from the Villages, suspending disbelief that shoppers at Costco and Target could buy anything that could be carried by hand. An additional wrinkle is that HUD approved an Urban Renewal version of the Fort Lincoln Redevelopment Plan in 1972; amended in 1990, the plan requires 3000 units of housing, 2463 units more than Fort Lincoln New Town's current proposal. Cel Bernardino recounted the various phases of housing that have already been built under the 1970s Urban Renewal Plan for the Dakota Crossing site. About 1370 residential units, including condos and rentals were built at Fort Lincoln New Town during the 1980’s and 1990’s, with most of the rental units built for senior citizens. The 127-unit Wesley House seniors apartments opened early last summer, and 209 "Dakota Crossing" town homes were completed last month. "We have two additional planned residential developments (town homes and condos) that construction hasn’t started on yet – the 334-unit 'Village at Dakota Crossing' across from the shopping center, and the 50-unit 'City Homes' development at the corner of Bladensburg Road and Eastern Ave." Robert King, Commissioner on ANC 5A12 (Advisory Neighborhood Commission), has been involved in planning Dakota Crossing since the 1970's. He's seen developers come and go, and has remained a reliable supporter of the plan, representing the leading voice of the commission he heads: "The project is finally on track. Some of the first residential units to break ground will be dedicated to firefighters and school teachers, and I am happy about that. The neighborhood is bracing itself for the development of Costco, which is expected to bring jobs, but also increase traffic." He believes the 1970's plan calling for 3000 units of housing was too ambitious and needed to be scaled back in a neighborhood of just 4000. "There is a significant retirement community in Fort Lincoln, and I am concerned about access to the retail site." Mr. King said he has been trying to organize a bus service to transport seniors across Fort Lincoln Dr. and 33rd Place. Although a contender for a Dakota Crossing spot a few years ago, Walmart is out. The city refuses to provide subsidies to the union-shunning employer. Nevertheless, word on the street is that Walmart may yet settle into the neighborhood, but now on triangular site bounded by New York Ave., Blandensburg Road and Montana Ave., the site of the Abdo project that fell apart earlier this year. From a traffic perspective, the development of two big box retail sites in such proximity could produce a tangle at what is already a busy thoroughfare. In an area that lacks Metrorail, the arrival of the big boxers and all the parking infrastructure that comes with them does not foreshadow a favorable future for TODs (transit oriented developments). The architects of the proposed retail development at Dakota Crossing, Bignell Watkins Hasser, with offices in Annapolis, MD and Vienna, VA, have built several local retail centers at both the neighborhood and regional scales. The big box retailers would create what is estimated at 800 new jobs by establishing what developers hope becomes a regional destination, capturing incoming and outgoing DC traffic at the entrance of the Baltimore-Washington corridor. "I want everybody to know from here to Timbuktu that Fort Lincoln is getting ready to complete plans for Costco. We want to make sure we can tap into every dollar for the city and create as many construction and other jobs as possible" said King, who echoed concerns about the wetlands and retention ponds on the new development site. Area residents seem enthused. "I think its hard to argue against development in one of the last development holdouts in DC" said Hans Posey, who moved to the neighborhood recently. "Its a very established neighborhood, but everybody, everybody, in the neighborhood is gunning for something bigger, something more than the kind of stores that are there now." Cel Bernardino estimates an August 2011 groundbreaking for the retail part of the development. "I’d say Spring 2011 would be the soonest we are likely to break ground on the shopping center. We have 'solid' commitments from our anchor tenants. No leases signed yet." The current site plan/design for the shopping center received concept design approval from NCPC on June 3, 2010. 

Washington DC real estate development news

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Georgetown Park Goes Big Box

Georgetown Park, retail, big box, leasing, commercial property

A recent effort to breathe life into Georgetown's only retail mall, The Shops at Georgetown Park at 3222 M Street, NW, has had the wind knocked out of it. The Georgetown Angels, a trio of ladies with boutiques at the mall and big voices for locally owned business, had banded together last year in a shared cause: to enliven the mall, increase exposure, and boost foot traffic off of M Street. But now, the mall is garnering some attention of a different sort, not what the Angels (think Charlie's, not Guardian) had in mind.

With the pending closure of Barnes & Noble down the street (the massive bookseller did not renew its recently expired lease) murmurs over the future of the mall (and inklings that H&M will move from the mall and take over B&N's corner spot) increased in volume, and are gaining validity now that several mall tenants have not only been asked to leave by the end of the year, but several packed up shop just yesterday.

Although property owner and operator, Vornado Trust Realty, would not confirm an 80,000-s.f. lease with Target, officials from the giant retailer have been exploring the viability of a large retail site with concerns about the traffic-choked location.

It's thought that Target will likely take up the basement (now a sorry food court and a DMV branch) and possibly the ground floor. A deal with Bloomingdales, for around 80,000 s.f., seems to have also been revived after initial talks fell through in 2008, although this is unconfirmed.

Along with a drastically different type of retailer and fewer retailers overall, Keith Sellars of WDCEP sees the potential for new restaurants to front the C&O Canal side of the property.  Retail tenant occupancy at Georgetown Park has fallen since 2009, and Kassie Rempel, DC native and owner/founder of mall-tenant SimplySoles, says of the change, "It's unfortunate, but I can't say it's a surprise." Rempel, one-third of the Angels, will be in the mall until the end of the year, and although considering a few relocation options, moving to the mezzanine level of the mall, as offered by Vornado, is not one of them.

Another Angel, Heidi Kallet, owner/founder of The Dandelion Patch, confirms she too is leaving Georgetown Park but says her shop "will stay in Georgetown." Finishing out the trio of Georgetown retailers, Stephanie Fornash Kennedy, owner/founder of the eponymous, eight-year mall tenant Fornash, has also received her official notice to vacate by year's end. Rempel says it's clear that Vornado, "is clearing out the first and second floors."

There has been talk of redeveloping the Georgetown Park mall since the late '90s; most notably when Herb Miller (of Western Development Corp.) and Anthony Lanier (of EastBanc, Inc.) entered into an agreement, in 1998, to pursue a joint venture to develop the property.

However, the mall, which opened in 1981 as a main component of the $200-million mixed use development by Western Development, was cruising along in the '90s, and into the early 2000s, and owner at the time Georgetown Park Associates (GPA) - which obtained the deed from Western Development in 1989 - wasn't looking to sell until 2006.

In March of 2006, GPA's sale of the property commanded a hearty $84 million, from Miller. Lanier sued Miller for breach of the 1998 agreement. Unease had been brewing between the two for a few years, after disagreeing on how to interpret an amendment, made in 2001, to the joint-venture agreement; Miller asserted that the 1998 agreement was void if not acted on by May 31st 2002.

Either way, the Georgetown Park deed was finalized on March 1st 2007.

In response to Lanier's lawsuit, as reported by the Washington Post in April of 2010, "Western sued EastBanc and Lanier personally for more than $50 million in damages, citing a malicious legal filing and other causes."

Though it was reported that Western defaulted in excess of $70 million owed to lender Capmark Financial Group, the foreclosure was called off in May, and a Vornado led group called AG Georgetown Park I LLC obtained the property from Capmark Finance/GP Partners LLC on July 9th 2010 for $30.8 million; significantly less ($54 million less) than Miller paid four years before.

Now, with Vornado a year into its ownership of the property, the site holds a mall that is a 30-year-old shell of its former self, and rapidly emptying. Long gone are the days when it drew local businesses, Georgetowners, out-of-towners and the like from M Street.

Washington D.C. commercial real estate news

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Shops at Dakota Crossing to Break Ground in May

May will mark the groundbreaking for the big box shopping center - The Shops at Dakota Crossing - on New York Avenue and South Dakota Avenue, NE. The $52 million dollar project on 42 acres is a joint project between Fort Lincoln New Town Corporation, CSG Urban Partners, and Trammel Crow Washington DC retail for lease, Dakota Crossing, restaurant for leaseCompany that will house 430,000 s.f. of buildings and include Costco, Target, Marshalls, and Shoppers Food Warehouse.

Costco is scheduled for an August 2012 opening, with the remainder of retailers to open in March 2013.

The pursuit of retailers at Dakota Crossing has been at least a decade in the making with Costco the lead in committing to the site. The plans had been hindered by two obstacles, the primary one being the controversy that ensued over paving the current wetland that filters waste and prevents flooding; Ft. Lincoln New Town Corp. has responded by creating new wetlands reviewed by the US Army Corp of Engineers, the EPA and DC DOE. The second hurdle had been the delay in inspiring additional retailers to sign on to the location.

CBRE retail for leaseThe shops at Dakota Crossing are part of an extensive development of the area that had started in the 70's under the city's Urban Renewal Plan. The development includes 1370 residential units, including condos and rentals that were built during the 1980’s and 1990’s; the 127-unit Wesley House senior apartments opened early last summer; and 209 town homes were completed in July 2010 that have sold out at an average listing price of $460,000Shops at Dakota Crossing, retail for lease, CSG Urban Partners, Trammell Crow.

Still in the works are the Villages at Dakota Crossing situated at Ft. Lincoln Drive and 33rd Street N.E., an $80 M, 334 town house and condo project for which the January ground breaking has been delayed, as well as the Ft. Lincoln multi-family development of 352 units on target to break ground in 2012. Townhouse construction on the 54 City Homes at Fort Lincoln started this past January.

Despite Fort Lincoln's stated commitment to the environment regarding the retail project in particular - with cisterns, green roofs, green walls, and other low-impact development measures - dismay over the 2000-plus surface parking spaces has fueleWashington DC retail for leased the ire of community groups and residents. On its website Anacostia Riverkeepers wrote, "The developer has proposed ways to mitigate storm water, but. . . [we do not] feel the proposed plan goes far enough. Anacostia Riverkeeper is not opposed to the project per se but believes strongly the proposal should be redesigned to protect the existing wetlands and control stormwater pollution in the Anacostia Watershed."Washington, DC Commercial Real Estate Development News

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mayor Predicts Lift Off for Skyland

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray predicted on Tuesday that the contentious development of the Skyland shopping center will be underway as early as September. News of the impending construction caught its developers and occupants by surprise, but both seemed to take announcement of the project's birth in stride.The foundering Southeast D.C. shopping center has been in the government's crosshairs for more than a decade, with Washington D.C. planners dreaming of Skyland Town Center, an economic nativity centered around big box retail and new mixed-use, 18 acre community. Planning for the site began more than 20 years ago, and rather than buy out the owners individually, in 2005 the city began eminent domain proceedings against its many owners, and has since claimed title to the property with the intent of handing it over to developers to redo. But jettisoned owners, backed by property rights advocates, have fought tenaciously to reclaim their titles they say were wrongly seized.

Meanwhile, erstwhile developers Rappaport Companies and William C. Smith & Co. et al have continued to promote the expected vitality from a redesigned building despite the lapse of time and lack of forward motion. For several years promoters and the District government maintained that Target was on board, anchoring the project, lubricating capital, and ensuring success. With Target now officially out, Walmart has become the dream (potential) anchor. But with a thicket of legal challenges, no signed tenants, financing uncertain and lack of a land agreement with the District, the project seems much the same as it did 5 years ago, excepting approval of plans by the Zoning Commission last summer.

Despite the Mayor's confident prediction, the developers are sanguine, noting that much work remains even if some demolition takes place on the Mayor's schedule. "There are still eminent domain issues" says Sheryl Simeck, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Rappaport. "The next step is for the District of Columbia to own all of those parcels. We've taken it as far as we can." Lawyer Elaine Mittleman, representing several owner-tenants, agrees, and says the transfers of title were not only unconstitutional but ineffective, making demolition unthinkable. Mittleman's suits have been denied by the courts, but other suits continue to work their way through the legal dockets, and Mittleman points to a variety of ailments to the District's claim to clear title.

Still, the government might win by attrition, outliving tenants slowly driven out by uncertainty and by a neglected shopping center that becomes ever more decayed. Some tenants have paid rent to the District government, others have not done so for years. "It's a tragedy" says Mittleman. "There's no funding, no agreement, no title, no tenants. It's the opposite of economic development." Mittleman says the government has stonewalled her FOIA requests and has failed to provide answers to many procedural requests, complicating representation of the owners. Still, having seen eviction deadlines come and go, tenants remain more frustrated than fearful, and yet none seem to doubt the ultimate resolve of the government to see the project through.

The development team also includes Harrison Malone Development LLC, the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization (MHCDO) and the Washington East Foundation, Silver Spring based architects Torti Gallas, and Washington D.C. based WCS Construction.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Monday, March 10, 2008

Columbia Heights Opens Retail Center

DC USA center, Columbia Heights, Washington DC

Last week marked a proud moment in District of Columbia history - the city's first Target store opened in the DC USA retail complex in Columbia Heights.

The 540,000-s.f., three story 'urban center', on roughly five acres of land between Irving Street and Park Road, is expected to garner more then $12 million in revenues for city coffers and will supply the District with more than 1000 jobs. Coming on the coattails of a 180,000-s.f. Target are Bed, Bath and Beyond, Washington Sports Club, Best Buy and a number of smaller retailers more often relegated to the suburbs, like Caribou Coffee, Mattress Discounters, Quizno's, Marshall's and Staples. New York based Grid Properties and Gotham Developers saw the project through to completion.

In a statement to the press last week, Mayor Fenty said: “[I]t is fitting to call this project both the catalyst and the capstone to an unprecedented economic resurgence in Columbia Heights – where nearly $1 billion worth of new housing, retail and office space has moved through the development pipeline since 2001.”

George Washington University professor, and economist, Tony M.J. Yezer opined. "If you think about what happens when you have group houses or [families with] double income-no kids, if they work downtown, they're not particularly fond of the suburbs. Its logical, that since there is a lot of employment of those types, they're going to want to live in Columbia Heights. If I could speculate, this [growth] might have happened earlier, except that perhaps, the government in DC was somewhat problematic in the 1980s.

"Does retail follow housing, or does housing follow retail, the answer is yes to both. This retail growth in Columbia Heights is caused by the population transformation and the population transformation will bring further retail. Things may be going fast in DC now, and the reason is that they didn't happen over time because they were delayed by what I consider to be problems with local government. You can have the economic rationale for converting a neighborhood to be fairly large, but you can also have regulatory impediments. The dam has burst. [Development] is going to happen very fast."

Bring on the cheap sneakers.

Washington DC commercial real estate news

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Skyland Town Center's Phase One

It's been a long slog, but the work is finally building momentum at Skyland Town Center, where construction on the 18-acre site is expected to complete this year and retailers have finally been committing.  Chase Bank and CVS have already signed leases for Phase 1 of the project, which will include 84,000 s.f. of retail and 263 rental apartments when it completes later this summer.  Rappaport has been in discussion with numerous restaurants as well, despite the obvious impediments to restaurant leasing at the moment.  Lidl and Starbucks, also both committed retailers, will get underway later this year, the latter will take the place of the CVS trailer now on site.  A second phase of the project will nearly double the retail (to 136,000) and residential unit numbers (to 513) when that phase begins, though a start date is not yet determined.  A 4-story medical office building will eventually round out the final development, though a start date is not yet set.

The contentious project is one for the history books.  Initiated by the National Capitol Revitalization Corporation (since dissolved) in 2002 to bring development to a decaying and retail-starved area in southeast DC, developers had visions of urban renewal and improved retail opportunities. Developers, primarily WC Smith and Rappaport, began to assemble and acquire the land, but the existing retailers and landowners weren't convinced the project had legs, and many chose not to sell or abandon their businesses to an uncertain future.  Enter the District government, which chose to acquire the remaining properties via eminent domain, i.e. a constitutional prerogative that permits the government to seize private property for "public" use.  Developers dangled Target as a future tenant, which fell through, but with the District government on its team the recalcitrant owners were defeated, and by 2011 Mayor Vincent Gray predicted construction was "imminent."

That was not to be.  Planners needed an anchor, and eventually signed Walmart, but in 2016, with no construction yet underway, Walmart withdrew from its commitment to anchor the site, as well as another site in Ward 8, and the search was on to find a replacement. The project broke ground in February of 2018, and in May of 2019, Rappaport announced that German grocer Lidl had signed on for almost 30,000 s.f.  The other leases soon followed, including one of the only drive-through Starbucks in the region.  Until the completion of phase 2 a large portion of the site will remain a construction lot, but for now, the neighborhood is one step closer to having the grocery options, sit-down restaurants and conveniences of neighborhoods west of the river that have so long bedeviled the residents in the project's vicinity.

Project:  Skyland Town Center

Developer:  Rappaport, WC Smith, District of Columbia

Architect:  Torti Gallas

Interior Design:  Carlyn & Co.

Construction:  WCS Construction

Use:  480 apartments, 134,000 s.f. of first floor retail

Expected Completion: Phase 1:  Fall 2020.   Phase 2:  TBD

Skyland Town Center, Rappaport, WC Smith, Torti Gallas, Washington DC

Skyland Town Center, Rappaport, WC Smith, Torti Gallas, Washington DC

Skyland Town Center, Rappaport, WC Smith, Torti Gallas, Washington DC

Skyland Town Center, Rappaport, WC Smith, Torti Gallas, Washington DC

Skyland Town Center, Rappaport, WC Smith, Torti Gallas, Washington DC

Skyland Town Center, Rappaport, WC Smith, Torti Gallas, Washington DC

Skyland Town Center, Rappaport, WC Smith, Torti Gallas, Washington DC

Washington D.C. retail for lease - Skyland Town Center

Washington D.C. retail for lease - Skyland Town Center

Washington D.C. retail for lease - McDonalds

Washington D.C. retail and real estate development news

Friday, December 28, 2012

First Look at Parcel N at The Yards

Navy Yard real estate development in Washington DC - Forest City's "Parcel N"
Forest City's Parcel N at the Yards will transform a section of the Capitol Riverfront
Parcel N at The Yards. Image: Robert A.M. Stern
New renderings have been released of "Parcel N," one of two new apartment buildings planned for Forest City Washington's The Yards mega-development in DC's Capitol Riverfront neighborhood.

Robert A.M. Stern is the primary design architect on the "Parcel N" project, WDG is the architect of record.  Planning for the building is still in the design stage, although architects said they expect permits for the 340,000 s.f. structure to be secured by May 2013, with a groundbreaking set for August of 2013, according to WDG.

Parcel N at the Yards includes architectural design by Robert A.M. Stern
Parcel N at The Yards. Image: Robert A.M. Stern
Forest City broke ground this summer on the other project, "Parcel D", directly catty-corner to Parcel N.  That building is being designed by Shalom Baranes.

The Foundry Lofts, a 170-unit adaptive re-use project and the first residential building in the group, completed last year.  In June Forest City secured funding for an adaptive reuse project called The Lumber Shed, described as the The Yards' "retail centerpiece".  Another adaptive reuse of a century-old building into retail and restaurants, The Boilermaker Shops, is set for opening this spring.

architectural rendering by Robert A.M. Stern for Parcel N at the Yards by Forest City
Parcel N at The Yards. Image: Robert A.M. Stern
Plans for parcel N include an 11-story, 325-unit building at 310 Tingey Street with ground floor retail, two courtyards, a rooftop pool, a small green roof, and a LEED target of gold.

Peter Garofalo, architect with Robert A.M. Stern in New York, said the building's design references the area's industrial architectural tradition.  There used to be an old foundry on the site, Garofalo said, but it was torn down in the 1970's.

"What we are striving to do is build a building that references historical essences, but updates them in a playful and modern way and stitches those two vocabularies together..." Garofalo told DCMud.  He said the design features glass on top of a traditional base.  Materials include glass, concrete, and dark metals.

Pete Garofolo, Forest City Yards, Southeast DC, Navy Yard, new apartments, Washington DC
Parcel N at The Yards. Image: Robert A.M. Stern
Garofalo said the building's design also features a zig-zag pattern across the east face of the building.  "That was done so that in the future, when the rest of the parcel is being built out, it will create diagonal views up and down 4th street for those residential units."

Designers anticipate one and two-bedroom units that Garofalo called "standard DC-sized," and don't foresee any micro-units.  "There is some debate about it, but I doubt that is going to be included," he said.

waterfront development in southeast Washington DC on the Anacostia
Parcel N at The Yards. Image: Robert A.M. Stern
Washington D.C. real estate development news

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Shops Open in Fairfax’s New “Urban District” at Mosaic

Sponsored Post
One stroll through Mosaic District and you’ll think you’ve landed somewhere between Capitol Hill and Bethesda.

DC’s favorite shops and restaurants are flocking to Mosaic District, a $150 million Edens development with retail anchors such as Matchbox Restaurant, Black’s, Cava, MOM’s Organic Market, Nieman Marcus Last Call Studio, Dawn Price Baby, Anthropologie, South Moon Under, Angelika Film Center and much, much more. Target, the largest retailer at Mosaic District, will open its doors this Sunday, October 14th.  A full list of retailers, opening dates and events is available at the Mosaic District website.

Also onsite are new townhomes by DC’s leading urban developer, EYA. The townhomes at Mosaic District feature three and four bedroom floorplans, contemporary architecture, garage parking, plus the company’s signature rooftop terraces. New homes start from the mid $600s and include luxury finishes such as hardwood flooring, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. The townhomes are now 50% sold out and a limited number remain for Spring 2013 move-in.

In addition to the 40 shops and restaurants onsite, Mosaic District offers a shuttle to Dunn-Loring Metro station for easy access to the Orange line and downtown DC. It is perfectly situated where I-66, Route 50 and the Capital Beltway meet and Tyson’s Corner is a quick ten minute drive. Mosaic District is EYA’s 17th new home community in northern Virginia and a destination designed by leading retail shopping center developer Edens.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bringing Berlin to DC: Inspirations for Dupont Underground

What inspiration can D.C. draw from Berlin about what to do with an unused trolley tunnel under Dupont Circle?  That is the question at the center of a new exhibit and events series organized by Provisions Library and the Goethe-Institut of Washington D.C.  The exhibit, called "Parks and Passages," runs at the Goethe Institut September, 14 through November 2.

The exhibit is meant to bring a "poetic interlude," in the words of research co-curator Stephanie Sherman of Provisions Library, to the ongoing and emotional discussion about how to best re-enliven the Dupont Underground.  That 75,000 square feet of space in tunnels lies - closed off for now - under the District's most visible circle.

Dupont Underground, Image courtesy Provisions Library
Built in the 1940's for trolleys (they ran only briefly), the space has been cast as a potential bomb shelter, health club, food market, even a "columbarium" (for cremated remains.)  None of those ideas ever panned out, although the tunnel did house a maligned food court for about a year in the 1990s called "Dupont Down Under."

Even now, the tunnel remains a virtually unknown public amenity in a city of above-ground monuments, boulevards, and upward-looking gazes.  But diverse gazes are shifting underground, as the exhibit shows, as more District-dwellers find resonance in the story of the tunnel.

In 2010, the Deputy Mayor's Office For Planning and Economic Development issued a Request for Proposals for the space, and a group called The Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground - brainchild of longtime tunnel fan and architect Julian Hunt - clinched the exclusive rights agreement for the space.
Dupont Underground, Image courtesy Provisions Library

According to coalition managing director Braulio Agnese, the coalition estimates that it would take at least $30 million to open up the entire space, but so far has fund-raised what amounts to a "drop in the bucket."  The group hopes the space could become an arts venue.  "We are eager to see what these artists have come up with," Agnese said of the exhibit at the Goethe Institut, adding that he hoped the research would be useful moving forward.

But the coalition's exclusive rights agreement expires soon, and the coalition continues to work with the city toward obtaining a lease.  The city had not responded for a request for comment by the time of publication of this article.  And the space - even now - remains closed to the public, or open for imagination, depending on how one looks at the situation.

"Parks and Passages" documents the adventures of four DC-based Provisions Library Fellows - an architect, two artists, and a cultural theorist - who spent 10 days in Berlin and then fleshed out their inspirations for DC using archival materials, architectural renderings, mixed-media installations with historic film footage, and even graffitti.

Exhibitors are artist Edgar Endress, a George Mason University professor of new media and public art, visual artist James Huckenpahler, architect Pam Jordan, and cultural scholar Paul Farber.

The goal, according to Sherman, was to think about how Berlin's creative sites emerged and how the city adapted spaces. Why Berlin?  Curators were convinced the city's creative, sustainable, adaptive use of historical spaces had some inspiration for DC.
"Parks & Passages" exhibitors Endress, Farber, Jordan, & Huckenpahler
The group visited spaces under both public and newly private management, such sites as a bunker art gallery, an East Berlin amusement park, and the vast Tempelhof Airport, the city's largest public park. The airport was built by the Nazi government, was site of the Berlin Airlift, and a Cold War hub.  At Tempelhof, the City of Berlin has turned 988 acres of a history-laden, inner-city airport, decommissioned in 2008, into a thriving space for recreation, gardening, biking, and creative re-uses - some temporary, some more permanent.

Berlin's development strategy, according to Martin Pallgen, a Berlin city staff member and project developer for Tempelhof, also uses a "bottom up" approach to planning that involves creative occupants of the space. Pallgen visited Washington, D.C. with a team from Berlin for the opening of the exhibit. That feedback, he says, is a component of Berlin's development strategy, which Pallgen sees as a a "process" rather than a one-step deal.

The Tempelhof development model for the future, Pallgen said, would take time to "think about what is right and what is wrong, and think about each step...was it the right decision or not?"

Much larger than the Dupont Underground space, Tempelhof also benefits from both public and private investment. The Dupont Underground coalition - as things stand now - must raise private funds from mixed-use leases or philanthropic donations. To make matters more complicated, the space sits under confusing layers of federal and local control. While the city controls the entrances to the tunnel beginning at the stairs, the National Park Service owns most of the spaces surrounding them.

As the exhibit shows - Dupont Underground has always been a vessel of dreams and imagined uses, and sometimes a target of derision.  It was once called the "Blunderpass". "It was controversial even before it was built," said cultural scholar Paul Farber, who delved into Washington Post archives to research the trolley tunnel.  At the same time, he says, it has always been a symbol of the future.  The archives reveal familiar patterns, Farber writes, that may affect that future: including "the dysfunctional relationship between D.C.'s local and federal governing structures" and the "inherent complications of overlapping public and private ownership."

The city released homing pigeons when the streetcar line opened to traffic around 1950, but the trolley line would see just a few short golden years. District streetcar operator Capital Transit Company lost its charter in 1955, and the last trolley ran in 1961. A trolley funeral was held in Mt. Pleasant.   The number 42 bus line now runs along that old trolley route. 

In the early 1960s, the space was stocked with food and beds as a bomb shelter but never used as one.  In the early 1980s, the Marion Barry administration considered three proposals: for a health club, a health market, and a columbarium, but those didn't pan out. In the early 1990s, the city signed a deal with a questionable businessman named Geary Simon to develop a food court called "Dupont Down Under", but it closed just a year later, beset by legal troubles.

Dupont Down Under had a Sbarro's and a Schlotzsky's. Their signs - old and dusty and cast in darkness - were still there in 2009 when chair of the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission ANC2B, Will Stephens, visited the tunnel in December, 2009.  That was when Adrian Fenty's administration put out the most recent RFP.  Recent tours of the tunnels have entered at a little triangle formed where P Street, Massachusetts, and Dupont Circle all meet at a point.  That's where the ANC2B office is too. "The Z was dangling," Stephens said of the Schlotzsky's sign.

ANC door sign under Dupont, Photo: Will Stephens
Then, Stephens recalls that, as the group of ANC2B members walked with flashlights along the dark tunnel, they saw a dusty sign on a door on which were printed the words "ANC2B." "All of us there from the ANC, including the (public policy) intern were all freaked out," Stephens remembers. "We were joking with him that that was going to be his office."

In February and November of 2010, the ANC2B passed two resolutions.  Both praised the city for involving community stakeholders in the RFP process and requested that the space's long-term future use be kept open for potential transit use.

"Our chief concern from the perspective of the ANC is that whatever goes into this space be feasible and sustainable, so that we don't repeat the failure of the Dupont Down Under food court project," Stephens told DCMud.

The most inspiring lessons from Berlin for DC? The main inspiration, Sherman said, could be seizing the present moment by asking “what can we do within those (given) parameters and let it be an evolutionary process?” That flexibility, Sherman is convinced, will be important.  "We are not presenting solutions or answers," said exhibit research co-curator Don Russell, who also sits on the board of the coalition for the Dupont Underground. "We are layering and opening it up to the public."

The exhibit also features a series of "interactive" public events centered around the goal of thinking about creative approaches to urban problems and challenges:

Thursday, 13 September, 6 pm
Discussion and Exhibition Opening
Natural Adaptation, Urban Re-Use: Berlin and Washington, DC

Friday, 14 September, 1 pm
Creative Research: Modes and Methods

Tuesday, 18 September, 6:30 pm
James Huckenpahler: Metamonument

Thursday, 20 September, 6:30 pm
Urban Interventions

Saturday, 22 September, 12 pm
Gardening Workshop
Gardening Workshop

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Residential and Retail Bound for Edgewood

Commercial real estate construction news in Washington DC, Bethesda, and Arlington
A new 6-story apartment building with ground-floor retail space could be headed to 2321 4th St. NE in Edgewood on the now-empty lot owned by H Street Community Development Corporation (HSCDC). Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 5C will consider the mixed-use development during a meeting this evening.

Washington DC commercial construction and real estate news
View looking south from 4th Street

The proposed building is a joint venture between HSCDC and E&G Group. The new $37 million development will create about 160,000 s.f. of mixed-use space, designed by Bonstra | Haresign Architects and built by Maggin Construction Company.

Plans call for between 155 affordable residential units on the five floors above the first-floor podium. Ground level space is reserved for 3,000 s.f. of retail, various tenant facilities and 40 parking spaces.

Kenton Drury, the project manager from E&G Group, said residential units will vary in size with 5 studio, 85 one-bedroom, and 65 two-bedroom units.

Tenants must be at or below 60 percent of the local Area Median Income (or about $40,000 for an individual). Rent for someone at 60 percent AMI is about $1,000 for a studio.

"We see young professionals wanting to live here because it’s an up-and-coming vibrant neighborhood close to metro and close to areas of employment," Drury said. The target tenant is a young professional entering the workforce or an "empty nester" who is retired or working part-time.

Washington DC retail for lease
View looking north from 4th Street
Development plans presented at a recent community meeting netted mixed feelings from residents. While they did not seem concerned about the building itself, they did express concerns about its impact on the neighborhood. Drury said some people thought rent was not affordable enough while others thought it was too affordable for the neighborhood. And residents asked about the local economic boost it could bring.

Drury said he told local business owners interested in providing construction services to get their Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) Certification because some work will be designated for CBEs. And residents with retail or service-oriented businesses could open up shop in the retail space on site.

Whatever the final development looks like, it will be a welcomed change from the so-called "Heroin Hotel" that used to stand on the lot. HSCDC demolished the three vacant buildings that had become a hotbed of criminal activity, but the community must wait longer for construction.

After the ANC meeting tonight, the next big step will be a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) meeting tentatively scheduled for June. Developers will ask for a variance on the loading dock height and parking space requirement. Drury said the only way to keep the 6-story building within the height limits is to reduce the loading dock height. And the triangular lot -- plus debris from the former buildings -- make it difficult to provide more parking spaces.

Drury said he hopes to have funding lined up this summer to move forward with working drawings and permit applications by the end of the year, and he hopes to break ground in early 2013.

Washington, D.C. real estate development news

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