Friday, September 21, 2007

NDC Breaks Ground on Georgia Avenue


Neighborhood Development Company (NDC) broke ground last week on one of the numerous projects along Georgia Avenue that are expected to revitalize the flagging area in conjunction with the District's redevelopment plans, approved by the DC Council in July 2006, to introduce development and improve public and private services. The Residences at Georgia Avenue, just north of the Petworth Metro station at Taylor and Georgia, is designed as a seven-story structure with 72 small, affordable rental apartments. The city is providing subsidies to enable NDC to reserve apartments for tenants at or below 60% of the AMI. The ground floor will be dedicated to retail, with a recently announced Yes! Organic Market as the sole tenant.

The project was designed by Weinseck Architects and will be built by Hamel Construction, providing 57 underground parking spaces when complete, likely in early 2009, at which point it should have good competition from numerous other new residential developments, including Donatelli Development's 148-unit Park Place at the Petworth Metro, a 57-unit condominium at the corner of Upshur, a 110-unit apartment building at 3910 Georgia Avenue by Jair Lynch (not yet under construction), and the Renaissance, a 105-unit condominium by Lakritz Adler, though NDC head Adrian Washington pointed out that this will be the first residential project on Georgia to complete. NDC recently completed the Lofts at Brightwood, and is a development partner on the CityVista project. The ceremonial groundbreaking took place in July.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Montgomery Mall Expansion May be Approved Today

The Montgomery County Planning Board at its meeting today issued a tentative approval to a revised expansion plan for Westfield Montgomery, better known as Montgomery Mall, a nearly 4 decade-old mall at Democracy Blvd. and Westlake Drive along I -270 just outside the beltway. The plan could include new retail, restaurants and parking structures along the entry streets to the mall. The Board has recessed temporarily, and plans to take a formal vote tonight to decide the matter.

The 60-acre project will expand to enlarge Macy's, relocate the Sears, and add a promenade with freestanding retail. The Board had been working over the past several days with a citizen's group to improve pedestrian access, and add a bike lane, shade trees, and a raised median strip. The the Planning Board originally approved the plan in 2005 to include 308,000 square feet of new retail, the new proposal includes approximately 60,000 feet of additional retail, including 25,000 square feet recently acquired from an existing strip mall.

UPDATE: The project was voted on and approved by the Board.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

North Bethesda Square's First Building Tops Out

The nearly $900m North Bethesda Town Center project saw its first building topped out this week as the Wentworth House, an 18-story, 312-unit apartment building, reached its full height last week. The apartment building will house a swimming pool deck above the 18-story-wing and a “sunset” terrace above the 15-story wing, green roof, and 65,000 s.f. Harris Teeter for the "Whole Foods effect" on the neighborhood. Construction on the building began in June 2006, completion on both the supermarket and apartment is scheduled for July of next year.

LCOR, a large east coast development team headquartered in Pennsylvania, was chosen by WMATA as the master developer for the 32-acre North Bethesda Town Center Project, developing a
master plan that includes approximately 930,000 s.f. of office space, 1,275 residential units, a 320-room full-service hotel, and 202,000 square feet of retail space at the White Flint Metro station. LCOR anticipates this project will generate 5,400 new jobs and almost 6,500 additional daily Metro trips, citing it as "the largest joint development project ever approved by WMATA." The project received a "Smart Growth" award from the D.C. chapter of the Urban Land Institute and The Smart Growth Alliance.

The Wentworth House was designed by Dorsky Hodgson Parrish Yue Architects (DHPY), with offices in DC, Cleveland and Fort Lauderdale. DHPY is also designing the Midtown Bethesda North condo project by Kettler.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Downtown Bethesda Condominium Pair Gets First Stamp of Approval

The Montgomery County Planning Board staff has issued its report recommending approval of a site plan to jointly develop a pair of parking lots in downtown Bethesda into mixed-use, multi-family condominiums with as many as 250 residential units in LEED certified buildings, construction of which will require a closing and realignment of Woodmont Avenue south of Bethesda Avenue. Lot 31, now sporting a metered parking lot at the crossroads of Bethesda and Woodmont Avenues - on the west side - and Lot 31A, across Woodmont Avenue to the east, are now on track for development as the southern gateway to Bethesda (depicted above, looking south), a predominantly glass and brick duo with a combined 250 units (up to 146 in the west building and 97 in the east), 40,000 s.f. of retail space and as many as 1480 underground parking spaces.

Both the 3-acre and the one-third acre lots are currently owned by the county, and will be jointly developed between the county and the development team, itself a joint venture between DC-based PN Hoffman and Stonebridge Development. The County will require 12.5% of the units built as MPDUs (moderately priced dwelling units) and an additional 35 as workforce housing. The conditional approval by the Planning Board will require conformity to a list of preconditions, including traffic, structural, public space, affordable housing, and bike trail accommodations, limiting the building height to 90 feet to the east of Woodmont, though stepping down to 65 feet at street level, considerably shorter than the 143-foot Seasons apartment building to the immediate east, and to a maximum of 54 feet to the west of Woodmont. Retail will accommodate outdoor seating, extending Bethesda Row to the south, and significant concessions will be made for the Capitol Crescent Trail, including additional bike racks and a "drop-off" point on Woodmont where bikers can unload from vehicles onto a new branch of the trail on the south side of the west building, providing an additional access point to the bike trail from Woodmont, which will be shifted to the west to line up Woodmont more directly where it crosses Bethesda Avenue.

PNH and Stonebridge most recently jointly developed Chase Point Condominiums in Chevy Chase DC. The staff report is not final, but signals a likelihood the full Board will approve the project. A hearing on the issue will be held September 20th.

Bethesda Maryland real estate development news

In Noma's Shadow, Eckington Mushrooms

As the next great construction site in the District, NoMa has attracted justifiable media attention as well as some of the heaviest-hitting development teams in the area, Akridge, Douglas Development, Trammell Crow, MRP and the Wilkes Company, vying for the ability to write upon the blank slate of its startlingly empty surface. Admittedly not likely to be on any tourist agenda or history tour, the newly invented moniker still offers commercial developers an attractiveness that seems hard to have missed in the past - a downtown development site with major bisecting traffic arteries, a pair of Metro stations and a train terminus within walking distance of Congress.

Attracting decidedly less media attention, Eckington, its immediate neighbor to the north, has nonetheless been discovered by local developers not quite ready for an Akridge-sized purchase of air rights over railroad yards, but who view the more than 10 million square feet of commercial space being built on its southern edge as an invitation to develop the residential market.

Bounded by North Capitol to the west, New York Avenue to the south, Rhode Island Avenue to the north and, of course, the proverbial railroad tracks, Eckington appears to sit on the right side of those tracks judging from development teams that have been quietly converting forlorn apartments into condominiums and vacant lots into loft-like housing for the inevitable office workers that will soon pour into NoMa. Zoned largely for residential and bounded north and south by Metrorail stations, the neighborhood has been populated by rows of single family homes, many of which still belatedly sport the once ubiquitous metal awnings, and small, forgotten apartment buildings, providing affordable alternatives to out-of-the-ground construction.

The area's conversion process began auspiciously when a joint venture between CSX and Fairfield Residential announced plans to build 650 condominium units, but braked in early 2007 as the condo market slowed as construction costs were rising. But by then other developers had used the momentum to build and sell the Jordan (314 V St.), Eckington Heights (330 Rhode Island Ave.), and Basilica Lofts (1900 4th St.), adapting former apartment buildings and abandoned storefronts into modern homes even before the first ceremonial groundbreaking in NoMa.

With NoMa construction now underway, the pace of development in Eckington has now quickened, with new, modern projects now dotting the Eckington map, including Century Court at 14 S Street (14 units), The Indigo at 1901 Lincoln Road (30 units), Todd Place Condos at 302-310 Todd Place (12 units), Eckington Station at 1927 3rd St. (7 units), Capitol Overlook at 221 R Street (12 units), and the Winthrop at 1956 3rd Street (5 units); other buildings beginning construction include 219 T Street, 1921 2nd St., as well as a pair of buildings on 4th Street at V and U and several vacant lots, now under contract by developers. While the scale of development does not match that to the south due to height restrictions and its residential nature, developments here seem more concentrated than any other existing neighborhood.

"Eckington is is one of the rare neighborhoods in DC next to massive commercial development that has not yet matured, so the potential upside for buyers is tremendous", says Dan Lindsay, whose development team, Lindsay Development & Hillsborough Investments, recently completed a project on Capitol Hill and is now completing the full renovation of Todd Place. Most of the new projects have sold from $340 to $400 per square foot, a price that is difficult to match on the other side of North Capitol Street or anywhere closer to nearby Capitol Hill.

Friday, September 07, 2007

ICON Condos to Break Ground Again?

When we last visited the ICON Condominiums in July of last year, Dawn Limited Partnership had just celebrated the "groundbreaking" of its $70 million mixed-use development project in Prince George’s county near the Addison Road Metro, and we (and others) dutifully reported its imminent arrival. County exec Jack Johnson was effusive about the smart-growth development and its local benefits. Sales began shortly thereafter, and the development was said to be expecting occupancy in mid 2008. More than a year after the ceremonial start, however, the project has yet to see any activity, but the sales office now reports that actual construction may begin by next month, with completion now more likely in early 2009.

Plans for the project include "luxury" condominiums, retail and restaurant space. The site is part of Prince George’s County Addison Road Metro Town Center Development Plan (PGCARMTCDP for short, sort of). The ICON will be located at the intersection of Addison Road and Central Avenue, at the Addison Road Metro Station. The 8-story project will offer 400,000 square feet of residential, retail and commercial property, including 170 "luxury" condominium units, 25,000 square feet of commercial space, fitness center, business and media centers, a recreation lounge, and a roof-top swimming pool and picnic areas, and previous ads have boasted views of the Washington Monument - several miles to its West.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

JPI Adds to its Stadium Collection

Developer JPI has added to its holdings near the new stadium with the purchase of one acre of land between K, I, and Half Streets, the latter being the major pedestrian entrance to the future ballpark. JPI, a nationwide developer of apartment buildings and, to a lesser extent, condos, says it intends to build the Jefferson at the Ballpark, a mixed-use project with ground floor retail and 416 units. The site is currently occupied by a Wendy's restaurant, groundbreaking is likely to take place next summer.

JPI already owns 901 New Jersey Avenue, one block away, on which it is currently constructing a 240-unit mixed-use apartment building, to be completed late next year; JPI has also begun construction on 70 and 100 I Street, SE (448 and 246 apartment units, respectively), designed by WDG Architecture.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Kettler Ends Midtown Springfield Project

In a letter sent to the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning, McLean-based Kettler Services, Inc. withdrew their requested rezoning for their 9-acre, $500 million Midtown Springfield project which would have included 800 residential units, 100,000 s.f. retail, 40,000 s.f. office space, and a hotel. The company had previously requested a deferral of the rezoning to gain time to work with the community and County and, according to the July 27th letter sent by the developer’s attorney, Gregory Riegle of McGuire Woods, LLP, to “respond to, among other things, unanticipated and unprecedented changes in construction costs.”

The letter also said, “Rather than pursuing a diluted plan that does not respect community expectations, there is no practical alternative than to withdraw the rezoning.”

Cassie Cataline, Vice President of Marketing and Communication for Kettler, said the company is taking the “wait and see” approach. She said the project’s future depends on the improvement of the real estate market, therefore, no alternative plans have been announced.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Old Town Loft Gets Virginia's First "Green" Ranking

The United State Green Building Council (USGBC) today awarded Developer William Cromley its first LEED- certification for a condominium in the state of Virginia. Cromley Lofts was awarded "Gold" Status by the industry’s governing body for its sustainable design, the first building in Alexandria to be certified as ‘green’ and the first such condominium anywhere in the state. Cromley Lofts is a new eight-unit condominium, an adaptive re-use of a century-old warehouse in the center of Old Town Alexandria.

As we reported last Spring, the Lofts were Designed and built by William Cromley, retaining most of their historic structure and original features that make them worthy of the "loft" moniker, in an era where the term is thrown around loosely, and include warehouse-sized windows and original curved wooden support beams. Cromley supplemented the project with historic, if not original, construction material, including wood floors fashioned from centuries-old heart pine culled from the aged timbers of a dismantled Georgian textile mill, making the floors possibly older than the city in which they sit. In sync with loft style of New York, Cromley Lofts adds modern features to accentuate the architecture and history, with all-glass tiled showers, double stainless ovens in the kitchens and bamboo cabinets. The sales Grand Opening will take place in September.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification is a third party verification process created by the USGBC in 2000 to promote the cause of green building. Green features taken into account at Cromley Lofts include proximity to Metro, vegetated green roof to reduce ambient air temperature and runoff, water-sparing plumbing fixtures, highly efficient heating and cooling mechanisms, non-CFC based refrigerants, use of salvaged, reused or rapidly renewable building materials, use of low VOC materials, built-in bike storage, interior design to maximize natural light, and double the required insulation, to name just a few. Says Cromley, "Green design is dynamic and beautiful, it isn't tie-dye and yurts anymore." The "Gold" level awarded is the 2nd highest designation, which run, in order, certified, silver, gold and platinum.

William Cromley has an architectural legacy in the neighborhood's homes, many of which he designed and built to work within the historic framework of Old Town's architectural heritage, an accomplishment that moved Alexandria to name an Old Town street in his honor. Sales and marketing by DCRE.

Washington DC real estate and retail news

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Senate Square Closes Sales Office, Temporarily


After months on the gossip wagon (whatever that even is), the Towers at Senate Square will be closing its offices - at least temporarily. According to the sales office, Broadway's ambitious development - 432 condominiums in two 12-story towers - has paused with the closing of the sales office, effective today. New York-based Broadway began selling the units in September of 2005, and had reportedly sold about 150 market rate units before making the decision to take them off the shelf to evaluate "refinancing" of the project. Sales had been "temporarily halted" weeks ago when the developer paused sales in order to 'adjust its pricing'; upward, they have been saying, but kept the sales office open, now the sales office will remain closed until September 24, according to the sales staff. Broadway had been accepting but not ratifying contracts in the interim, leading to speculation that the project would change in scope. The pair of buildings are expected to complete in November.

The Towers, located adjacent to the Amtrak line on H Street, has been offering no shortage of amenities, including an 80' rooftop lap pool, green roofs, running track, and concierge, all within a gated community. Broadway has been one of the few residential pioneers on the booming corridor, but numerous residential and commercial projects are in the offing on H Street, which itself will be eclipsed by the volume of construction immediately to the north and west in NoMa.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Southwest Office Block to be Redeveloped

Southwest DC doesn't get the redevelopment spotlight much, its safe to say. Sure, there are always plans, but nothing much seems to happen. This month, however, one of its many '60's era buildings began a four-year redevelopment project, turning one of the largest middle-aged federal office buildings into an environmentally-conscious, modern piece of real estate. Renamed "Constitution Center", the 2.1m s.f. office building at 400 7th St., SW, (occupying the full block between 6th & 7th, D & E Sts.) has now begun renovation to bring it into the 21st century. Massachusetts-based owner David Nassif Associates has hired K Street-based SmithGroup, the nation's 6th largest architecture and engineering firm, to redesign the heavy edifice into a more transparent and contemporary structure. The new design will include LEED (green) building techniques, though the developers have not yet committed to seeking LEED certification, as well as floor-to-ceiling glass curtainwall, laminated insulated glass, and (this being Washington), a more "blast-resistant" exterior. The open courtyard will become a "heavily landscaped private courtyard", says David Varner, the lead architect on the project.

The finished product - sometime in early 2011 - will offer 1.4m s.f. of above-grade office space (no retail space is planned), 15 acres of underground parking - the largest private underground parking in the city - and installation of the largest "chilled beam" HVAC system in the country, which is a very good thing, we're pretty sure, since they've apparently been using it in Europe for years. James G. Davis Construction is performing the work. The Department of Transportation, the last occupant, vacated the property in June.

Constitution Center (the Nassif Building) dates back to 1970, when it first opened, designed by none other than Edward Durrell Stone, who designed a number of local office buildings and was accused of designing the Kennedy Center. Architect SmithGroup also designed the Chesapeake Bay Foundation building in Annapolis, and the first Platinum LEED-certified (the highest level) federal building, in Colorado. No tenants have yet queued up for the project.

David Nassif Associates won the right to develop the site in the mid-60's in an RLA (Redevelopment Land Agency) competition, says Varner, because the land was considered "blighted" under the NCPC Comprehensive Plan, having been vacant at the time. Much of the land nearby developed at that time had replaced old neighborhoods, demolished in the spirit of 'urban renewal' and to make way for the never-completed inner beltway, the only completed portion of which became the Southwest Expressway.

Washington DC real estate and retail news

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Uline Arena to Get the Douglas Touch

The has-been Uline Arena is once more, thanks to Douglas Development. The old skating rink, located at the corner of 2nd & M Streets, NE, adjacent to the Amtrak lines, seems to have been used for just about everything, but as we reported last year, developer Douglas Jemal of Douglas Development purchased the property back in 2004 with the intention of making it a thoroughly modern mixed-used facility, including condos and office space. Now the Washington Business Journal reports that Jemal has teamed up with the Wilkes Company to develop the area. Wilkes owns the land on the north side of M, and the two will apparently work in concert to develop the properties. Wilkes is the midst of redeveloping a sizable chunk of Mt. Vernon Triangle, with Madrigal Lofts, The Sonata (now complete), and Mount Carmel all on its resume.

Jemal, love him or hate him, has been the force and inspiration behind much of DC's development, including Cleveland Park and Penn Quarter, and most notably the new Convention Center. Counting cranes in the area may soon become hard to do, with the new Marriott scheduled for construction soon, the recent groundbreaking of Union Place at 1st and K, MRP's $350m Washington Gateway project at the intersection of New York and Florida, Constitution Square on 1st Street, the New Yorker going in soon one block south of the Uline Arena, and of course the massive would-be development of the Florida Avenue market and Burnham Place, Akridge's long-term plan to build above the tracks north of Union Station.

Friday, August 24, 2007

14th & U Corner Gets an Upgrade


The long-vacant lot and deteriorating building on the northeast corner of 14th and U Streets in northwest DC - one of the few development holdouts on trendy U Street - will finally be developed; the owner plans a retail center that will connect both properties when completed later this year. The longtime owner of the building is renovating the historic façade on the corner, with only slight changes to the exterior, and constructing a new building on the vacant lot that abuts it on the north side. The new building will have three floors with over 10,000 square feet, and both buildings will be dedicated entirely to retail, and expects the pair to be ready for leasing by October. Bochle & Gates Architects designed the new space, the leasing agent says that none of the space has yet been rented, and that they are working to get a restaurant to occupy the ground floor.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

DC Bureaucrat Seeks Rich, Ambitious, Type-A Developer for LTR

Hard working DC bureaucrat, ISO experienced, rich masochistic-type for long term relationship.
The Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development has issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for Poplar Point, the mostly vacant site along the eastern banks of the Anacostia River in Ward 8. DC's purpose in issuing the RFEI is to "identify highly qualified developers who have the creative vision, demonstrated experience and organizational and financial capability and capacity to plan, construct and potentially operate a world-class mixed-use development and waterfront park."

Developers whose only experience includes conversions of 4-unit apartment buildings into condos need not apply - Poplar Point is expected to become a residential, commercial, cultural, and recreational development - 130 acres in all - with one mile of Waterfront, one of the key sites in the District’s $10 billion Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, with the potential for a soccer stadium, and sitting directly across from the new baseball stadium to boot.

Despite its location just across the river from the new stadium and a short drive to the Capitol Building, with views of the downtown skyline and monuments, Poplar Point is "an underutilized and isolated" collection of federal facilities, according to the District. The District’s vision for the redevelopment is embodied in the Anacostia Waterfront Framework Plan and includes "high-quality development, an emphasis on urban waterfront life, a commitment to environmental stewardship and the preservation of community character that fully engages local residents, community groups and other stakeholders..." Interested suitors should have thick skin too, as if working with the aforementioned groups won't get contentious enough, neighbors have already protested the "upscale" nature of the project, contending that hotels, conference centers and stadiums will not provide services they need, or will be able to afford.

The Anacostia Waterfront Initiative eventually proposes new parks, trails, housing, retail, office space and cultural amenities over the next 20 years, connecting residents of nearby Barry Farm, Hillsdale, Fairlawn and Historic Anacostia to the river.

Responses to this RFEI are due by October 19, 2007 at 12 pm. The District expects to select a development partner before the end of the year.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bethesda's Auburn Avenue Project Approved


The Montgomery County Planning Board has unanimously approved plans submitted by Auburn Building Associates LP, for Auburn Avenue, a condominium project to be located at the southwest corner of the intersection of Auburn Avenue and Norfolk Avenue in Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle - across the street from Imagination Stage. The approved plans call for a 126,000-s.f., nine-story building featuring 60 residential units (nine being moderately priced dwelling units),19,000 s.f. of office space, and 12,000 s.f. of retail (with DCmud hoping the Italian deli now at this location finds a home in new the building). There will also be a two-story, below ground parking space for 140 vehicles. Although final renderings of the project have not been released, initial designs included extensive use of glass along the northeastern perimeter of the building. Bethesda-based SK&I is designing the building.

The developer, which has already announced that DC artist Mindy Weisel will create an oxidized green copper structure for the façade of the building, hopes to have the final site plan and all project specifics ready around the end of the year. The county had approved the project up to 110 feet, but the developer is planning to cap the project at 90 feet. The site is currently occupied by two and three story office buildings.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New Yorker Back on Track

Back in 2005, plans for the New Yorker condos had raised hopes for more revitalization in a struggling section of Northeast DC when developer KL Associates announced its intention to build a 44-unit condominium at 300 L Street, but shovels never quite hit dirt. Now the developer says it plans to pick up on the long-stalled project, rescaling the project from 44 to 32 units (the image below is the old version) in a ‘condo townhouse’ style, with Zahn Design taking over from Hickok Cole as project architect in a complete redesign of the size and scope of the project. The project will still take up the entire street front between Abbey and 3rd St., on the north side of L Street.

KL hopes to break ground by early 2008; the city has already given approval to remove the existing warehouse on site but the developer does not have immediate plans to begin demolition. Larry McAdoo of KL Associates scrapped the original design because construction costs, including the steel and concrete to be used in the first design, had been too high to support the project. The new design will utilize a wood frame with brick exteriors, according to McAdoo. A larger unit size, averaging from 1000 to 1500 s.f., will also replace small units envisioned in the first go-round, though a greater number of units would be permitted, thus allowing the townhouse style, which McAdoo says is more in keeping with the "Capitol Hill style" architecture. An additional bonus will of course be the massive office space of NoMa being built just a few blocks to the west, an area that - back in 2005 - was just a vast wasteland, with a forgotten bus depot and a few vague promises about redevelopment.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Portico Condo Springs to Life

With excavation mostly complete, construction is getting ready to begin on the Portico, a new condominium in the center of Silver Spring. The 151-unit building had long been planned for the vacant lot on Fidler Lane, between Cubano's restaurant and McDonald's, but was halted when neighbors in an adjacent new development complained (typical) about the density and parking. The Patriot Group purchased in the land in 2003, anticipating starting prices to be around $200k, but the controversy slowed the project and the developer eventually agreed to sell the pre-construction plans to Centex. Centex in turn pulled the plug on most of its urban projects, including the Portico, as well as Scene (Arlington), 1200 East-West Highway (Silver Spring), Pavilions at Huntington Metro (Alexandria), and Pavilions at Takoma Metro (DC).

The project has been approved by the county and excavation is now underway, the Patriot Group anticipates completion in late 2009. Located just a short walk to the Metro in Silver Spring's central business district, the new condo is being designed by Silver Spring-based AR Meyers & Associates as entirely residential, no retail, which the developer states is prohibited by zoning code.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Flats at Blagden Alley Back to Life

When we last visited the Flats at Blagden Alley in July 2006, developer Walnut Street Development had canceled sales of the condo project before breaking ground, with sources saying only one of the 45 units had gone under contract, with the developer stating a likelihood of pursuing residential rental space in the near future. The Flats are indeed coming back, again as condos, but this time as ‘affordable’, to be built by North Carolina-based Self Help, a non-profit whose mission is to “create ownership and economic opportunity for minorities, women, rural residents, and low-wealth families.”

The Flats will front M St., the alley and 9th St., one block from the Convention Center in the heart of Shaw and directly across from the Whitman. WSD’s version, designed by Eric Colbert, had been priced from the high $200’s to the $800’s; the new plan calls for one-bedroom units to start in the upper $100’s to mid $300’s, with target incomes from the mid $30,000’s to the mid $80,000’s. The original project was designed to be a mix of 45 residential condos, ground floor retail, artist lofts, and office space for associations and small businesses; the revised plan calls for 49 one-bedroom condos and 14 two-bedroom condos. Self Help says it expects completion in late 2008.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Residential Units for Hilton Washington?

As a part of a larger hotel revitalization project, the Hilton Washington, north of Dupont Circle, could be seeing residential units in the near future. After buying the Hilton for $290 million in May, L.A.-based Lowe Enterprises Inc. and Beverly Hills-based Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds LLC are considering adding a yet-to-be-determined number of residential units to the 1,119-room hotel.

Harmar Thompson, Senior Vice President of Lowe Enterprises said developers are in the process of doing the initial schematic design and massing. He added, “We haven’t formalized anything yet; we are going through detailed work with the community and the Office of Planning.” According to Thompson, more details, including a decision on condos vs. apartments and number of units, will be announced in September.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

NOMA Waitin' for First Residential Building

The Cohen Companies’ Union Place, the first of several residential buildings planned for the NOMA Business Improvement District (BID), held their ceremonial groundbreaking this week. At the project’s completion, the development will include 700 residential units two blocks from both Union Station and the New York Avenue Metro Station at 3rd and K Streets, NE.

Designed by Bethesda-based GTM Architects, the project will be built in two phases; the first, named the “Loree Grand” after Loree Murray, a neighborhood leader and activist, is slated for completion in mid 2009 and will include 212 apartments in a 10-story structure, some of which will be voluntarily designated as affordable workforce housing by the developer. Though not bound by the affordable housing requirements that accompany deals with the DC government, the developer has allocated 11 percent of all apartment homes as affordable. Phase one will also deliver an interior public courtyard, "green" roof, childcare center, fitness center, 4,000 s.f. of retail space, and underground parking that will allow one space per unit. Phase two is planned to raise the height to 14 stories. Rick Conrath, principal of GTM and project architect, says the K Street frontage will allow an attractive street presence, with wide sidewalks permitting a generous separation between vehicular and pedestrian traffic; conforming to DC's vision of the avenue as a walkable boulevard with cafes and shopping.

At the completion of both phases, the project will have seven different floor plans that range from junior one-bedroom units starting at 516 s.f., to two-bedroom-plus-den units of more than 1,400 s.f., as well as an indoor/outdoor swimming pool opening onto the courtyard. Cohen has acquired 42 separate properties and is in good company among other large-scale developments likely to begin soon, including Archstone Smith’s project at 1st and M, and MRP Realty’s Gateway Project at the intersection of New York and Florida Avenues.

Elizabeth Price, President of the NOMA BID, tells DCMud that almost 3 million s.f. of development will break ground in the now-vacant neighborhood by the end of the year, including the neighborhood’s first hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott. Plans for a grocery store are also in the works, the name of which has not yet been announced.

With 1500 rental apartment planned for next year, Price noted, “Everything that is planned as residential in NOMA for the next 6-12 months is rental, which is not a surprise given the condo market. The first phases are planned as apartments, but many have second phases that may change to condos.”

The seventh in the District, the NOMA BID was established in March and is bounded by Massachusetts Ave. on the South, North Capitol Street on the West and Q and R Streets on the North. It extends beyond the CSX/Metrorail tracks on the East.

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