Thursday, February 17, 2011

Howard Town Center - Looking Toward 2015

After years of postponed deadlines, the Howard Town Center is hobbled by more delays. "We're looking at 2013 at best, though it could be as late as 2015," says KLNB Associate Jennifer Price, who is working on leasing. Howard Town Center is a mixed use concept that would bring a grocer, retail, and condos to a underutilized corner of Georgia Avenue near Howard University. The hitch? Finding a grocery to anchor the space. "Everything is dependent on the grocer," said Price. "Until we secure one, we won't know how much square footage of retail space we'll have available for other businesses." Price says "quite a few" are vying for the space, but one thing is for certain: it won't be a Giant, since the O Street Market project knocks the store out of contention. Price projects that plans for Howard Town Center to firm up by May. Howard Town Center at 2100-2146 Georgia Avenue is the proposed development of CastleRock Partners and Howard University to take the place of the Bond Bread building and offer 70,000+ s.f. of commercial property, a 45,000 s.f. supermarket, 300 to 450 residential units, and parking. All of this, says, Price, is dependent on the grocer, how much square footage it would entail and its architectural plans. Perhaps one reason grocers are reticent to stake claim to the property is because of the new Safeway now planned for middle-Georgia Avenue and the Yes! Organic Market already up the street, in addition to the Giant slated for Shaw. Back in 2009, Philadelphia's Fresh Grocer was a top contender for the site; their corporate office confirms the location is still under consideration."The Fresh Grocer is very interested in and committed to new store development in the District of Columbia, especially at the Howard Town Center," said Patrick J. Burns, President and CEO of The Fresh Grocer. "We have been working with the investors and developers of Howard Town Center for years and are disappointed that the project has stalled. However, our interest in bringing a ground-up, state of the art Fresh Grocer supermarket to the Howard Town Center remains steadfast."
The script for Howard Town Center has a long and colorful backstory, which includes the 2006 land swap of the city-owned Bread building property for Howard's land at Florida and Sherman Avenue, for which the city will solicit bids for a mixed-use property that would include 300 residential units. Earlier in its illustrious life, the Bond Bread building was wedded to the People's Involvement Corporation (PIC), a 30-year tenant. The non-profit was promised ownership of the property in a verbal agreement with Mayor Washington in 1965. When it was not granted, PIC sued in 2003 and lost, naturally, with the court concluding that "a mayor's written promises cannot be relied upon." Trammell Crow Company was the initial developer in the projects early stages, but the university did not have control of the land until 2008, at which point the project was up for bid and Howard opted for CastleRock Partners' proposal in November of that year. Washington, DC Real Estate Development News

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blinging the Burger

By Beth Herman

While many of today's high-end single restaurant designs careen toward green practices and "experiential dining," re-imagining even a portion of McDonald's 15,000 iconic U.S. double-sloped mansard-roofed, vinyl-boothed, golden-arched proverbial burger joints of yore may require a little more thought and planning.

With 700 McDonald's restaurants in the greater Washington, D.C. market alone (referred to by McDonald’s Corporation as the Baltimore-Washington region, and encompassing parts of Virginia as well), a much-anticipated makeover has been underway since about 2004-06 in its earliest planning and test stages.

Retaining its traditional fan base while aligning itself with a brand savvy 21st century demographic, design components such as energy-efficient LED and CFL lighting, WIFI, plasma screen TVs, “zoned” interior spaces designated for speed, extended socializing or family seating flexibility, and dual-lane drive-thrus serve up a more modern approach to fast food. Factor in aesthetic elements that may include cultured stone, rich but muted colors, indirect wall lighting, arm chairs, double-sided fireplaces and art deco panels, and the burger behemoth’s take on new times begins to warrant a story in an epicurean Architectural Digest if there were one.

“What we’re trying to do now is have a much more holistic approach with our environment,” said David Neiss, development director for McDonald's Baltimore - Washington region. Citing brand maturation and relevancy to today’s consumer as the impetus for new direction, Neiss identified only one iconic change to its building design–the double slope mansard–in the 1970s, since the brand’s franchise inception in 1955. “In the early days, we had what we called a red-and-white building with sky-ing arches,” he recalled. “We didn’t even have seating. We didn’t have drive-thrus. We didn’t have restrooms.”

Where carbon footprint and overall sustainability are concerned, Neiss said McDonald’s is “…probably farther ahead than most, and we really haven’t told our story as well as we should or could.” To that end, and in tandem with the trend toward LEED certification, McDonald’s global headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill. was certified LEED platinum in 2009. As of October, 2010, four restaurants in the Midwest, South and West had achieved LEED gold with burgeoning numbers engaging in green practices like low flow plumbing fixtures, recycled denim insulation and even partial solar power.

With 87 redesigned or rebuilt restaurants in the Baltimore Washington area since 2006, and two out of 16 D.C. free-standing structures to date–Georgia Ave. and Peabody, and Benning Rd.–having undergone conversions, brand consistency and message are imperative though there is some wiggle room. "There are local architects that we have trained by our corporate architects to understand our design principles and iconic image,” Neiss said, adding that localizing certain aspects of design in accordance with municipal requirements, and even implementing individual owner/operator key preferences, are not entirely uncommon.

Speaking to what he called the corporation’s “Forever Young” contemporary design concept, which is tantamount to changing and evolving with new trends, owner/operator Craig Welburn said his customers have provided “all types of positive comments” about the change in d├ęcor, including the opportunity to work on laptops and monitor news, sports and other events on plasma TVs. Owner of 25 McDonald’s restaurants in the Baltimore - Washington region (four is the average number), and with unconfirmed (“no comment”) reports reflecting owner/operators incurring anywhere from 50 to 100 percent of each estimated $300,000-$400,000 outlet redesign, Welburn is fully invested in the process.
According to Welburn, during a meticulous discovery and design process, a confluence of teams from the franchise end and corporate side are charged with determining relevancy and variable design elements, when necessary. Restaurants in more suburban areas such as Garrisonville, Va., or Woodbridge, Va., for example, both of these in Welburn’s stable, may address different patron needs than those in downtown D.C., such as characteristic children’s play places. With free-standing structures undergoing an exterior redesign, the double slope mansard has yielded to what McDonald’s calls a “more relevant arcade design,” or a more contemporary flat roof topped by a sloping curve, along with understated sidewalk-mounted lighting to mitigate the use of glaring outdoor lighting in the past.

Despite redesign having reportedly impacted 2010 sales in Europe and New York, and with McDonald’s retooled menu pleasing more health and nutrition-conscious 21st century palates, Neiss said the company objective “…isn’t only about driving sales, it’s more about being relevant and sustaining the company as a brand image.” In that respect, McDonald’s overall Baltimore - Washington region redesign is expected to unfold over a conservative eight to 10 years from its initial 2006 test period.

"We try to be very reactive and proactive in staying in touch with society as it changes,” Neiss said.

Congolese Buy 16th Street Mansion for Embassy

Map: Embassies of Washington DCA grand home on 16th Street from 1894 that's served many lives is taking on a new one as the Congolese Embassy. Currently under contract, the home is listed at $5.75 million and is a short sale. Built in 1894 for $40,000, the home was designed by William Henry Miller for Supreme Court Justice Henry Brown, who lived in the home until his death in 1913. After Embassy of the Republic of Congo, Washington DCstints as home of the Persian Legation and the American Zionist Organization (not simultaneously), the Toutorsky clan bought the house to use as a conservatory, the role it served for forty years, until it was bequeathed to The Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins in 1988. The school sold it, after which it eventually landed in the hands of the current owner, Humberto Gonzalez, who bought the home for $2.2 million in 2001. Gonzalez, who has at times run a bed and breakfast out of the mansion, listed the home for sale in 2008 before contracting with the Congolese - that's Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, i.e. led by Joseph Kabila - not its junior neighbor to the west. Should things go as planned, the embassy will vacate its current digs at 1726 M Street, NW, for a 6,700 s.f. lot with 12,000 s.f. of space. In the meantime, the embassy requested, then withdrew, a plan for a circular driveway, which would have had to go through zoning adjustment. As filed with the BZA by the embassy's lawyer on February 9th, "Time is of the essence in the completion of this Chancery application in order to meet the short sale agreement deadline with the Bank of America. The President and CEO of the America [sic], personally, has gone to great lengths on behalf of the Republic of the Congo to facilitate and expedite this short sale transaction. The inability to timely complete this transaction with the Bank of America would be an embarrassment to the government of the Republic of the Congo."

Washington DC commercial real estate news

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Residences for 11th Street

A nearly vacant lot at the corner of 11th and V may soon be ready for a makeover now that developer Habte Sequar of Loford LLC has purchased the land with plans for a new residential building. The as yet unnamed development is to provide 40 1-and 2-bedroom units, but as far as whether they'll be condos or apartments, Sequar said it's too early to say.

Sequar told DCMud he bought the property several months ago from Quality Investments, and that Loford is working on design in-house, with the intention of naming an architect further along in this process. Though Sequar says he hopes to wrap things up within 18 to 24 months, he's being optimistic. It's taken nearly ten months to submit the raze permit: The date written on it says April 2010, yet the Historic Preservation Office claims to have received it earlier this month.

Loford's past work includes The Josephine Condominium at 440 Rhode Island Ave., 20 newly built condos on the market since 2009 that are still selling. Loford also purchased 1638 14th Street, which DCMud reported is to become a seven-story, 30,000 s.f. condominium to be built atop a 6,000 s.f. parking lot at the corner of R and 14th. No word on progress for that development, which has been on hold since at least 2009. Public records show that 2101 11th Street traded in August of last year, when Pierce Investments sold it for $2.7m.

Washington DC real estate development news

Monday, February 14, 2011

Stonebridge, District Kick Off Conversion of Washington Star Printing Plant Tomorrow

The District government and developers will commemorate the start of conversion of the old Washington Star printing plant tomorrow, turning the featureless, carton-like exterior in the shadow of the Southwest Express into a more modern structure designed by Hickok Cole. In a redevelopment plan the city inked with StonebridgeCarras in July of last year, the Washington DC government will pay to transform the building then rent it back from the developer for a 20 year period. Tuesday's ceremony will market "the official beginning of redevelopment," according to a press release.
The District government began leasing the property in 2007, but failed to use the building, then purchased the property last year for $85.2m, though it has not occupied the space. Actual construction began on the property last month. The revised building has been designed to earn a LEED Silver certification, incorporate the largest green roof owned by the District of Columbia, and provide space for a public gallery to "showcase the vast art collection of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities."

The city will continue to own the land in a lease-leaseback arrangement with StonebridgeCarras. The city will lease the property to the developer, which will finance construction of the renovation, then lease it back to the city for $8.4m per year to be used as office space for several District agencies. The property will revert to the District at the end of the 20-year agreement. The District government will build a data center and is seeking an occupant for the 50,000 s.f. of available space.

Washington DC real estate development news

Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj Poised to Start Newest Dining Scene at 22West

Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj - the savvy businessman and cosmopolitan host behind Bombay Club, Bibiana, the recently remodeled Ardeo+Bardeo, and Rasika, the city's four star Indian restaurant where it's West End restaurant, Ashok Bajaj of Rasika opens new restaurantimpossible to get a table - is poised to sign a lease for the retail space at 22 West, the West End EastBanc project that was completed in 2008. As far as the marriage between 22West and Bajaj, "I've been wanting to get into the place for years," Bajaj said last week of the 3000 s.f. retail space that has remained empty since completion. Factors such as opening Bibiana, and remodeling 701 and Ardeo+Bardeo had been vying for his attention in the meantime. Rasika restaurant, Washington DC restaurant news22 West is one of several projects that may re-energize what has been a relatively staid neighborhood. The Columbia Residences and the Ritz Carlton have injected life into the West End, which still lags as a destination retail site, despite the success of Trader Joe's and Blue Duck Tavern, and now an independent theater. The secretive Bajaj won't give away the menu just yet. "It's something I think people in Washington will find very interesting," he added. Also on the docket in the West End is East Banc's redo of the neighborhood's post office, library and fire station, a coordinated development plan awarded to EastBanc in early 2010, and a renovated retail pavilion across the street from 22 West, now underway

Washington DC real estate development news

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Of Vanguards and Cupolas

By Beth Herman
It's an historical dilemma: What do you give the one who has everything?Victor Shargai architectural and interior design
For Victor Shargai and staff of the eponymous interior design firm, designing for someone at the vanguard of working women's rights, who has served five presidents, was the 29th U.S. Secretary of Commerce under George W. Bush, held esteemed positions in corporate circles and academia, is an expert on corporate governance, auditing and financial reporting practices, and currently helms her own D.C.-based international consulting firm presented less of a challenge than one might imagine.Washington DC commercial real estate blog
On the precipice of a 30-year-long collaboration, the renowned Shargai and Honorable Barbara Hackman Franklin have pondered a progressive set of design issues for Franklin, choices running the gamut from Asian art to furniture proportion to the joy of aeries and cupolas. The relationship has faithfully endured the creation of five residences (four in Washington and one in Bristol, Conn.), two offices (one twice), as well as a small airplane hangar fit for a seasoned pilot and country gentleman: Franklin’s husband of nearly 25 years, Wallace Barnes, retired Chairman and CEO of Connecticut-based Barnes Group Inc.

Genesis and Geography
Introduced to Franklin by mutual friend Jean Sisco, first female director of the Washington Board of Trade in 1968 who’d mentored Franklin, Shargai and company were charged with designing Franklin’s first Watergate apartment with three more to follow. “The first apartment was a one-bedroom,” Shargai recounted. “It had a few pieces of French furniture, a few family antiques, and we set that together with casual French fabrics and probably some chintz – pied-a-terre-ish. It was a warm, inviting apartment.”

As Franklin’s Washington star rose, another Watergate apartment with evolved style ensued, followed by the circa-1995 purchase of a Watergate three-bedroom, two-story duplex, replete with terrace and encompassing river views. Designing for two, as it were, with the duplex to be occupied by Franklin and husband Wallace Barnes, Victor Shargai & Associates senior designer Blair Riggs said Franklin went fromWashington DC design blog environs that "would have qualified as very feminine and country French to a style that was little more elegant.” With an eye to more home entertaining, Riggs recalled their client’s tastes were always fresh “…but a little higher styled now with beautiful fabrics from Bergamo and Clarence House, and with the introduction of Oriental antiques,” as Franklin travels extensively in the Far East. Mahogany, silk and wide stripes also defined the space, along with a collection of patriotic accessories precipitated by Franklin’s career.
A Cessna Runs Through It
Washington DC commercial real estate design newsPrior to the client’s move to the Watergate duplex, Shargai revealed that Barnes had expressed a “conundrum” in that the former WWII pilot had nowhere to garage his Cessna in Connecticut. Parking it on some acreage across from his Connecticut farmhouse, Barnes had desired a space that would effectively shelter his plane. A decision was subsequently reached with Connecticut architect Charles Nyberg, of Associated Architects PC, to build a brand new home with multiple garages: one for the plane. A contemporary structure with modern art by Willem de Looper and Bjorn Bjornholt, and 19th century Barnes family portraits, a wedding quilt hangs in the living room with its seven-foot mantle and 20-foot ceilings. Leaning historically toward a traditional wood-sided Connecticut farmhouse, according to Shargai, when Nyberg suggested adding a cupola, the designer confessed he effusively requested a real aerie. “God bless, he did it,” Shargai affirmed. “It’s a spectacular (furnished) space where you can see miles because they are very high up on a hill. I do a walk-through with clients every year or so to see how things are,” he added, “and in this particular house we always end up there.”

Savoir-faire in the Sky
Referencing a giant step Franklin and Barnes took in 2006 when they jettisoned their Watergate duplex in favor of a 3,000 s.f. Watergate apartment, Shargai said he adheres to the tenet that “just because the floor plan says dining room,” one is not obligated to color inside the lines. Sited one level below the penthouse with sweeping Key Bridge, Roosevelt Island and Kennedy Center views, firm Vice President Rahman Seraj, who specializes in interior architectural elements, decided to open a chopped up living space by initially gutting the entire apartment. Accordingly, the space went from a smaller living room, library, dining room, kitchen, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath apartment to a one-bedroom refuge, reconfiguring the aforementioned additional rooms into a huge living/dining space. A kitchen opens to the space with the option of isolating it for catered events. With lower ceiling height characterizing Watergate apartments, Seraj used gallery-like surface mounts similar to Monopoint lighting to achieve the distinctive indirect lighting results the home deserved.

“I think it’s a real success because it’s very elegant and at the same time comfortable,” Shargai said, noting their efforts to accommodate Wallace Barnes’ 6’3 frame and affinity for the great outdoors without precluding his wife’s smaller stature and tastes. A bold, traditional color palate (Prussian blue; cinnabar red; celadon) traditionally found in Tabriz rugs, and features such as a pair of Minton-Spidell chairs, “exquisite French chairs that will fit any man,” Shargai said, complement the use of beautiful fabrics, Oriental rugs – one from the original apartment! – and a working fireplace. “Elegant doesn’t necessarily mean untouchable,” Shargai said, emphasizing comfort overall.

Meg and a MantleVirginia architectural digest

In what the designer called “a true Meg Ryan moment,” a mantle owned by the firm in its early days, acquired years ago by Shargai’s and Franklin’s mutual friend Jean Sisco (the one who’d introduced them) was again in play, made available to Shargai & Associates following Sisco’s passing. “We needed a mantle for the working fireplace in Barbara’s (newest) apartment,” Shargai said, “and somehow God was watching over us because it’s extraordinary that it fit perfectly. It’s made the relationship come full circle,” he concluded.

Noting that both Franklin and Barnes are quintessential cooks, Shargai added that kitchens in the current D.C. and Connecticut abodes are designed to foster the confluence of cooperation and creativity that definesarchitectural design news the couple. “I always make sure when I go to Connecticut to check things out that it’s around lunch or dinner time,” he quipped, citing their inclusion of organic food grown at the farm across the road in Bristol.
“Though Ms. Franklin’s a very busy woman, traveling both nationally and internationally, one of the things I admire is that she always has fresh flowers she’s (arranged) herself,” Riggs said of the feeling in the Watergate residence. “It gives me great joy to go there.”

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Things Are Moving" for O Street Market

Think Eastern Market meets City Vista if you're trying to imagine what the CityMarket at O will look like, the $260 million dollar project to help revitalize Shaw's business district. "It will embrace an unusual combination of 19th century charm and 21st century technology," said Armand Spikell, Principal of Roadside Development about the Shaw project that will transform two city blocks in Shaw.

Though Roadside had applied to raze the Giant at 1414 8th Street at the end of January - the first of many permits - the demolition date is still hazy, though Spikell projects the store will close this summer. Between now and then, the group has been digging around the foundation and adding steel braces to support the historic market building.

The new Giant Foods will be larger than the Safeway that now resides in City Vista. 55,000 of the 87,000 s.f of retail space is slated for Giant, of which 13,000 s.f. will be underground. This includes the loading dock in particular. "During the initial meetings, the community stated they did not want the eyesore of the docks that take up 9th Street now. It is a very unusual move, but we've tucked all that out of sight," said Spikell.

Also out of sight are the 500 parking spaces, which will also serve as an option for the Convention Center so as not to congest the neighborhood, again at the behest of the community. The remaining retail space is slated for small local businesses, none of which have yet signed at this early date; businesses would not open doors until 2013.

"Working with metro on foundations, working on design, meeting with the community, securing funding through HUD, this is not a normal commercial venture," said Spikell, "and this all takes time." Having started in 2003, eight years later, "things are finally starting to move."

Washington DC real estate development news

From U to H, 2 Townhouses and Their Effect on Revitalization

Joe Englert, U Street, Washington DC restaurants and bars, State of the Union, retail for leaseOn U Street, near the corner of 14th, a pair of historic - if dodgy - buildings sit, at long last for rent rather than just vacant, uncharacteristically forlorn, and out of sorts with U Street's thriving retail. Outward appearances aside, the perpetually run down pair at 1355 and 1357 U Street with a quirky history has had an oversized role in shaping the street, and might even be credited with the rebirth of the H Street corridor.Joe Englert, U Street, Washington DC restaurants and bars, State of the Union The townhouses were once the negative of that image, the rare luminescence on a struggling strip, helping deliver U Street's nascent resurgence in the early '90s. Like many properties in the neighborhood, the attractive row houses had remained family-owned for decades, with little attention paid to them as the neighborhood declined. But a group of investors saw the potential for a nightspot, and one, an up and coming restaurateur named Joe Englert, thought a bizarrely themed bar might make it in the rough and tumble neighborhood. In line with neighborhood, the building at 1357 U Street needed work, having been neglected to the point of instability. "Even back then, the building was a mess," says Stuart Woodroffe, a General Manager of the bar. "We had jury-rigged half the place with reinforcements because we were worried the floor would give." "It was a wreck when we were there," said Englert of the building. "The place was falling down then." In spite of its decrepitude, Englert and company opened State of the Union, a Soviet-themed bar (appropriate for the decaying infrastructure and outward bravado) that brought together jazz musicians of all ages and later, roots music, house music, and rhythm and blues, a venue that fused the jazz history of the street with trendier club themes for the proletariat. 

When Woodroffe became the general manager, "he made it much cooler than I would have," said Englert. "I thought we should have a 200 pound go-go dancing babushkas shaking their rumps and table side cabbage roll preparation." Yum. The crumbling building and divisions within the partnership eventually took their toll on Englert, who pulled out of the project - his fifth or sixth bar - because of differences with the owner of the two buildings, Henry McCall. "He was a real character," said Englert of the man who lived - let's say modestly - on Alabama Avenue in southeast DC, and had little financial capacity or personal wherewithal to improve the building, nor interest in selling. Add the strained politburo-style partnership ("ten people owned it, three did all the work"), and the business folded in 1997. "So we had a revolution," said Englert. "The State of the Union was a failed Socialist republic." In its wake, Englert fled the corridor for H Street's Atlas District, where it might be said he had more success. Joe Englert, U Street, Washington DC restaurants and bars, State of the Union

And so the building that was once a center of U Street's gentrification continued its decline. Prior to 2007 1355 U Street was worth $1.5 million dollars. Despite their peak value, by 2010 the properties were listed in the Notice of Real Property Tax Sale for arrearages of $73,758.59 for 1357 U and $19,087.20 for 1355 U Street and scheduled for auction. The back taxes were paid, and McCall's family, who inherited it when he died three months ago, plans to keep and rent the one that's in better shape at 1355 U Street. Norris Dodson, the listing agent, notes that the family prefers a tenant that's not a bar or club "though the owners are trying to be open minded," said Dodson. The property has been on the market since September and the rate has dropped at least once to $7500 per floor. And as for Englert, the businessman behind many of the area's watering holes, from Dupont's Big Hunt and Lucky Bar to DC9, to the Pour House and Capitol Lounge on the Hill, took a special liking to the eastern half of DC, having invested in The Pug, Rock and Roll Hotel, Granville Moore's and The Argonaut, which had reopened recently after a fire. He's sticking with H Street, with plans for more restaurant and bars to come. Next up? Rumor has it Englert is writing a book on the history of H Street, and has plans to open a barbecue joint called Joe's Coal and Ice House, perhaps for this summer. Sounds strange; we'll see if it works. 

Washington DC retail and commercial real estate news

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Canal Park Underway Next Week

Blake Dickson Real Estate, Studios ArchitectureWork on southeast DC's grand Canal Park will get underway next week, as general contractors begin the construction of the 3-block urban park that will be a centerpiece for the ballpark (Capitol Riverfront) neighborhood "by February 15th." District of Columbia officials and representatives Canal Park Development Association had anticipated an earlier start date and 2011 completion date, and Canal Park design, Blake Dickson Real Estate, Studios Architecture, Capitol Hillheld a kick-off party last August, but "financing issues" have delayed construction, until now. The 3 acres of landscaping will offer "a stunning urban park on the site of the historic Washington Canal" with a variety of water features, a large pavilion/restaurant (LEED Gold or Platinum certified) designed by Studios Architecture and two smaller pavilions, 2 large fountains, wintertime ice skating rink, rain garden, multiple lawn spaces, an electric car charging station, and bicycle racks. The park will also collect and recycle its own rainwater and that from the neighborhood and nearby buildings, filtering through its rain garden for use in fountains and ice rink. Davis Construction, Olin landscape Architecture, WCSmith Last summer the CPDA selected Davis Construction to build out and Blake Dickson Real Estate to locate a restaurateur for the park's pavilion. Philadelphia-based OLIN is the landscape architect. Chris VanArsdale, Executive Director of CPDA, says the financing and permitting issues of yore have been worked out, allowing CPDA to issue a work order to Davis next week with construction immediately thereafter and completion expected next spring. Davis Construction, Olin landscape Architecture, WCSmith, urban parkThe District is ponying up $13.5m of the estimated $28m development tab. William C. Smith & Co., one of the early developers in the area, is providing in-kind support and an undisclosed amount of financial assistance. VanArsdale says that the difficulty in obtaining approval was caused by financing using the new markets tax credits. The federal government owns the land in arrangement that gives control to the District, which in turn has a 20-year agreement with the Canal Park Development Association to develop and manage the land. The canal that once ran across the site connected the Anacostia to Tiber Creek (now buried under Constitution Avenue), which ran to the C&O canal.

Washington DC real estate development news

Your Next Place...

By Franklin Schneider

Located in DC's Colonial Village, this striking home (designed by architect David Baker, with an update in 2000 by architect Richard Zambito) looks, at first, sort of like a cross between a flying saucer and a beached houseboat
(but in the best possible way). But it's not just novelty for novelty's sake. Like most architects' homes, all the idiosyncrasies are practical too. The structure is supported by eight internal steel beams (exposed, for a really cool industrial vibe), and most of the house's exterior is made up of windows. You've never seen a house with a view like this; it's almost 360 degrees. And it's right on Rock Creek Park, so the view is spectacular. I mean, my apartment sort of has a lot of windows (albeit nothing like this), but they look out on a bus parking lot surrounded by razor-wire. Not exactly the sort of thing you enjoy looking at while sipping your morning coffee.

The general impression given by the house is light and clean lines and open space; even on a overcast day the house is impossibly bright. It has 3.5 baths and four bedrooms, the largest of which is a newer rooftop addition. This master bedroom is nearly all windows, and being in the room is like being in a light-filled crow's nest. Paradoxically, though it seems quite exposed, it's completely private and discreet, owing to the elevation, no worries about the neighbors snickering about your physique. (Not that they would, all the neighbors seemed totally nice and nonjudgemental.)

2141 Sudbury Place NW
4 Bdrms, 3.5 Baths


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

DCRA to Open Small Business Resource Office by Spring

The Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is taking a stab at making government more efficient. If you're following the agency's Twitter feed, the goal is apparently to save time and garner good will by expediting permit requests.

The agency has already established a Homeowner's Center, dedicated to helping expedite permitting for home repair and renovations. And now they're setting up a Small Business Resource Center, scheduled to open at 1100 4th Street SW in the spring.

Will it help? "Your homeowner building permit office is great!" tweeted Margaret Holwill, head of PR for the H Street NE Festival and owner of Holwill & Company media. "Could you do a one-stop shop for small biz?"

Helping people navigate purgatory is not in character for a government agency, but that's the intention. "We are envisioning laying out the steps and serving as a point of contact for updates on progress for the many agencies involved in the permitting process," said Helder Gil, spokesperson for DCRA.

DCRA hopes the new office will cut permit wait time in half by acting as a liaison between business owners and many government agencies. Small businesses that might benefit from the center include new retail, restaurants and non-profits in particular.

Washington DC real estate news

Transforming Dulles

Redevelopment and design of Dulles AirportVirginia’s Dulles Airport has undergone tremendous changes in the past decade. In 2000, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) embarked upon a program of capital investment aimed at modernizing the airport and preparing it for future 21st century growth. After years of construction, many of the projects have recently been Dulles Airport Modernization, Virginiacompleted, wringing out a new aesthetic from the Eisenhower era design. Meanwhile, planners envision the next step of connecting the airport to the rail system now headed in its direction. With the Silver Line that will serve the airport as early as 2016, MWAA's construction of Phase I will extend it just past Tysons Corner by 2013, while planners debate where to situate the Metro station at Dulles. MWAA recently rejected a proposal to put an above-ground station in front of the main terminal, partly out of concern that it would block the view of the famous, if not universally beloved, Eero Saarinen-designed building (pictured, top, with permission from Andres Ramirez). Three alternatives remain, two underground, one above. The below-ground stations would be close to the terminal while the above-ground station would find a home at the daily garage, requiring passengers to drag luggage about 600 feet to reach the terminal. The original plan called for an underground station close to the terminal, but estimates of placing the station 600 feet away from the terminal project about $640 million of savings and don't require additional tunneling. Still, some commentators have argued for proximity, even with the additional cost, given the long-term benefits of an efficient rail connection, and point out that many fewer people took the Metro to National Airport before the new terminal opened in 1997 with a direct connection to the train station.

Within the airport itself, other improvements have elevated the dowdy atmosphere. After years of planning and construction, the new security checkpoint opened in late 2009 followed by the new AeroTrain in January 2010. Passengers nowDulles Airport Modernization, Virginia descend an escalator from the departure level to a new, 121,700 s.f. security screening area. Moving the security checkpoint opened the rear of Saarinen terminal (terminal interior pictured at right) to light and lifted congestion, making it possible to appreciate the aesthetics of the terminal today in a way that was not possible in the years following 9/11, when security checkpoints popped up like gophers in the rear of the terminal.

Dulles airport design, Virginia

Passengers now check-in on the departures level (see diagram, in green), descend an escalator to the new security mezzanine (red), and descend to the AeroTrain station (blue). Arriving passengers take an escalator from the AeroTrain station (blue) to the arrivals level/baggage claim (purple).

After passing through the TSA frisk lottery, passengers descend another level to the AeroTrain, which they take to their concourse - a Tron-like traveling system used in Dulles airport today.Washington DC real estate development news The AeroTrain system (pictured, above) has mostly replaced the sci-fi era mobile lounges, which for decades have transported passengers from the main terminal to their concourse or directly to their airplane. Some have operated since the airport opened in 1962.

Dulles is the ugliest airport in the United StatesOther airport renovations continue. Dulles airport transport system renovationConcourses C & D, built in 1985 as temporary concourses, still serve United’s large hub at Dulles Twenty-six years later.

Few will miss the old Concourse C with its low ceilings and lack of windows, or its cramped rush hour condition. The new Concourse C, which will be above the already-built AeroTrain station, will be a more open and brighter place to pass long airline delays.

With a conceptual Concourse C on the way, MWAA placed its AeroTrain station at the site of the future concourse rather than the temporary one. But plans for a permanent concourse are nowhere near finalized, and with an uncertain timeline (delivery could be as late as 2020), and airlines hesitant about expensive infrastructure improvements, travelers are stuck with Dulles airport renovation and redesignWashington DC real estate design newsa station several hundred feet away from the concourse itself, requiring another passageway between the AeroTrain station and the concourse (see picture, below). This will be ameliorated with the opening of the permanent concourse, but until then travelers will continue to enjoy the famously long walks within the airport. Passengers flying from Concourse D must still take the mobile lounges until the new concourse Washington DC commercial property development newsopens.

The other permanent midfield concourse, Concourse A/B, initially opened in 1998 and was extended in 2008. A modern, bright, and airy terminal (see picture, below. Copyright Dan Brownlee) it serves every other airline at Dulles, excepting United, whose passengers don't have use of this terminal.

airport design and security, Washington DC

Elsewhere at the airport, a new Air Traffic Control Tower opened in 2007. A fourth runway opened in 2008 and a fifth is planned. Unlike most airports in the country, Dulles' Virginia real estate development newsremoteness from urban centers - an inefficiency multiplying the expense of the rail line - endows it with a surplus of land for expansion in the coming decades, despite the persistent onslaught of sprawl. Dulles has seen a steady expansion of international flying over the last decade; in the last four years alone Dulles has gained non-stop flights to Rome, Geneva, Moscow, Accra, Istanbul, Doha, and Bogota.

To process the increased number of international passengers, MWAA renovated and expanded the Customs and Border Protection hall. When the expansion is complete this year, the facility will approximately double in size and capacity, processing 2,400 passengers per hour.

Virginia real estate development and design news

Over the years, despite the new look, MWAA has made a conscious decision to maintain airport signage in vintage 1960's/70's historic font. Due to smart planning and investment by MWAA a decade ago, Dulles Airport now has much of the infrastructure necessary to propel the airport forward in the coming decades. Once the Metro serves the airport, Washington D.C.’s two major airports will both have convenient rail access, a rare feat for an American city. The growth at Dulles will be even more substantial in coming years with development of the Silver line and growth of nearby Tysons Corner. By the end of the decade, Dulles's two modern concourses, direct rail service to downtown, and efficient security screening area should put an end to disparaging comments by travelers comparing Dulles to third world airports. And while many still don't consider the original design fetching or worthy of an international gateway, Dulles Airport has a come a long way towards becoming a world-class airport.

Story by Reese Davidson (RJDavidsondc @


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