Morning Real Estate Review

Monday, June 18, 2012
DC leaders to defend law that requires hiring locals on construction projects (Washington Post)  A suit by builders against a law demanding local hires will be contested by the District, with a rally today at the Wilson Building.

MGM and Peterson to develop casino at National Harbor (PR Newswire)  MGM, operator of numerous high profile Las Vegas casinos, has signed an agreement to operate a new casino to be built close to the beltway.

Chief sustainability officer at Tower Companies talks shop (Forbes) David Borchardt talks about the greening of office space and commercial profitability.

"Pinball" houses used by agents to sell other homes (Washington Post)  Homes with unrealistically high asking prices make others nearby look better by comparison.

Arlington announces energy heightened efficiency program for new buildings (Arlington, VA)  Under the new regulations, developers will be given additional density for higher LEED rankings - buildings that achieve LEED Silver or higher.

Your Next Place

Saturday, June 16, 2012
This fantastic 1920s-era home has all the subtle charm and panache of that simpler era - note how coyly it seems to peek out from behind the beautiful garden and fence, like a silent film actress or something.  But inside it has all the modern cutting-edge finishes - fully remodeled everything, central air, etc. - that you could ask for.  I didn't know whether to put in an offer or propose to it.  (Doesn't matter - either way, the answer would've been contemptuous laughter.)

If you like natural light - and who doesn't, aside from, like, hoarders - this is the house for you.  Everyplace claims to be "bright!" but this place actually is.  Extremely bright.  I was a little hungover the day I saw this place and when I walked into the family room, with its wall of windows, I felt like I was actually melting, vampire-style.  (I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.)

There's a beautiful parlor for all your parlorin', a huge living room, and a spacious family room with fireplace. From there you go through french doors out to the gold standard for all screened-in porches; the perfect place to sleep during the summer, or sit late at night and "think" (i.e. sneak a cigarette).

Out back is a flagstone patio and a standalone brick garage that's nicer than many actual houses.  There's also a vibrant perennial garden featuring all sorts of flowers and shrubbery, etc.  I'm not really into gardening so I didn't really know what a "perennial" garden was, so I asked a couple who was standing nearby.  The husband explained it was a garden that grew back every spring by itself, without any planting required.  The wife nodded and then said, "what it really means is that you don't have to do any work."  We all nodded in silent agreement:  this was the best kind of garden.

1410 Manchester Lane NW
5 Bedrooms, 4 Baths

Washington D.C. real estate news

The Big Deal

Friday, June 15, 2012

4344 Forest Lane, NW
8 bedrooms, 5.5 baths
6,635 square feet/$25,195 yearly taxes
DOM: 0
List price: $3,350,000
Sold price: $3,350,000 
May's largest residential sale was a renovated Tudor in Wesley Heights.  Details were scarce as it was entered into the MLS as a comparable.  Listing agent Nancy Itteilag said one of her clients that lived down the street was searching for a similar house and a deal was struck before it hit the market.

The home has hardwood floors, five fireplaces, an updated kitchen and baths, a two story addition and a slate patio.
*photos via MLS.  Listing courtesy of Nancy Itteilag, Long & Foster

Bethesda Industrial Site to Be Remade as Residential Complex

A moribund, paved-over industrial site just off of Little Falls Parkway in Bethesda is slated to be replaced with a 30-townhome housing development.

The 1.8 acre property at 5400 Butler Road is bracketed by Little Falls Parkway and Butler Road, between River Road and Massachusetts Avenue, and surrounded on three sides by parkland.  Presently the site of the BETCO block plant complex of buildings and surface parking lots, plans call for the site to be razed, the pavement removed, and replaced with a Lessard Group-designed "scale-appropriate residential community" of 30 single-family garage-centered homes.

"We actually just got our planning board approval last week for the site plan and preliminary plan," said Stephanie Marcus of lead developer EYA Development.  "We hope to start construction at very end of this year or early in 2013."

Five of the townhouses (16.67%) will be moderately-priced units, and just under forty percent of the new site will be green space, up from basically zero percent at the current site.  Plans also call for about 2 parking spaces per market rate unit and one per MPDU, totaling approximately 64 spaces.

The developers have made several optional concessions, including
removing the existing pavement at their own cost, throwing in an extra MPDU (they're only required to include four), installing stormwater management at their own cost, and setting the amount of green space at 38%, 8% above the requirement.  The project will also remedy the BETCO plant debris' encroachment onto nearby parkland.

The plan itself is somewhat unremarkable - let's face it, a development of townhomes excites pretty much no one - but it's essentially making something from nothing, and in the big picture the removal of the pavement, remediation of parkland encroachment, and significant addition of greenspace, more than makes up for what may be lacking aesthetically.

Bethesda, Maryland real estate development news

Today in Pictures - William O. Lockridge/Bellevue Library

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The District of Columbia opened its newest library this week, the Washington Highlands branch William O. Lockridge/Bellevue Library library at 115 Atlantic Avenue, SW (that little slice of southwest you didn't know existed on the north edge of Bellevue).  The original library, built on the site in 1959, was demolished in 2009 in favor of a modernist design created by Adjaye AssociatesJair Lynch was the development manager of the project. The library was designed to earn a LEED Silver certification.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

The Gallery of Bethesda Demolition Complete, Excavation Underway

With a $55 million construction loan recently secured, and demolition complete, developers Donohoe Companies and MPM Investments are aggressively moving forward on the Gallery of Bethesda, its 17-story 234-unit residential tower at 4800 Auburn Avenue.

“Donohoe Construction is making great progress on the site," said Jad Donohoe of Donohoe Companies.  "Excavation will finish up in November. The 17-story building will 'top out' in July of next year. And then by early 2014, residents will be moving in. The Gallery of Bethesda is going to bring more life and more activity to this part of Bethesda, and it’s going to prove all over again why Bethesda is one of the best places to live in the Washington region.”

The Gallery will be a quarter-million-square-foot tower featuring a 0.25-acre public plaza, a rooftop pool, and 4.600 s.f. of ground floor retail space.  The project is one of three towers that will make up downtown Bethesda mega-development in Woodmont Central; an additional residential tower is slated to be built at 4850 Rugby, with a six-story office building at 8280 Wisconsin Avenue (possibly breaking ground this summer), completing Donohoe's trifecta, not to mention JBG and Bainbridge, both of which are building 17-story residential projects in the neighborhood.  When all three phases are complete, WDG-designed Woodmont Central will bring nearly 600,000 square feet of residential, office and retail space to downtown Bethesda.

The $55 million construction loan, secured in mid-May, is financed by AXA Equitable Financial Services LLC, and sister company Donohoe Construction is the general contractor.

Bethesda, Maryland real estate development news

Morning Real Estate Review

Bozzuto names new head of construction (Sacramento Bee) The DC area real estate services firm names Chris Block as construction head for Bozzuto Homes, one of its 6 companies.

Penzance, Invesco get $94m loan for Arlington office project (Commercial Property Executive)  The two-building office project near the Clarendon Metro, a project that recently broke ground.

Vornado asset sales could top $1b (Chicago Tribune)  The company, which owns significant property in Washington D.C. and New York, says it could sell off more than a billion dollars in assets.

Foreclosures down for 20th straight month (HousingWire)  Foreclosure filings are down on a year-over-year basis for the 20th straight month.

Contee Co. Redevelops 25 Acres around Prince George's Plaza Metro

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
As part of the development around the Price George's Plaza Metro station, the Contee Company, LLP, is redeveloping 25 of the its 35 acres, along with Old Town Construction and the Lessard Design. Those 35 acres were originally developed in the early ‘60s. The developer now intends to build several thousand housing units and an office building. Currently, it is working on a building dubbed "Building 6," which will replace 5 recently demolished buildings.

Jared Spahn, a Managing Member of Old Town Construction, said since the area is a living community, Contee is rebuilding the parcels one at a time and demolished the five buildings in February. Spahn said he expects a grading permit for Building 6 "in a week or two."

Building 6 will be a 4-story, 283-unit, 360,000 s.f. garden-style podium building with an underground parking garage, replacing the 105 units demolished.
"It’ll have all the great bells and whistles to compete with all the great projects,” Spahn said.  The bells and whistles apparently include fitness rooms, a business center and meditation gardens to presumably spend time in after spending a long day in the business center. Spahn said it needed to be “extremely high-end to compete with the other great projects that have been invested in around that Metro station.”

Spahn said construction should begin within the next two weeks, as soon as he receives the grading permits.

The  new building will be competing with other “luxury” complexes in the area, but Spahn thinks customer service will set it apart, commenting that having a local owner is what tips it over the edge.

“What I think sets our building apart a little bit from the others is because compared to Post Park and Equity Residential, we are renting from friends and family instead of a multinational corporation. What it allows us to do, we’re not driven by stock prices or market movements because we are long-term investors, it’s going to allow us to provide, we think, a better priced product for our customers than those that have to answer to Wall Street.”

The entire area previously had 555 garden-style apartments in 20 buildings on the site. Through redevelopment, Spahn expects 2,400 to 2,500 units and 350,000 s.f. of office space in the next ten to fifteen years.

Hyattsville, MD real estate development news

The Ground Floor

Big Lots, the close out/overstock retailer, is coming to Edgewood.  Construction is starting shortly on a 37,000 s.f. shell located at 514 Rhode Island, Ave., NE.

The fish market on the corner of 14th and P St, NW closed two weeks ago.  No details yet on what will replace the decrepit relic on the prominent Logan Circle corner.

Wagamama, the highly anticipated British ramen restaurant, is moving forward with their build out in Penn Quarter.  The estimated start date is late July 2012.

The Protein Bar, a healthy food and catering restaurant, is coming to JBG's development at 800 N. Glebe Rd.  Construction is slated to start in late July.

Bar Louie, the stadium-sized bar at Gallery Place, is opening their first MD location in Rockville Town Center.  The grand opening will be celebrated June 18-24th.

Update:  Big Lots is coming to Edgewood, not Brookland.

Jen Angotti is a DCRE agent licensed in DC and VA.  She also writes Concrete Jungle DC, a blog about real estate and design.

Morning Real Estate Review

Capitol Hill Suites completes first phase of renovation (Wall Street Journal)  The $3.7m renovation of the hotel, now known as Capitol Hill Hotel, is the first of two phases that will complete early next year.

National Building Museum to build mini golf course (CBS news) The museum worked with architects and developers to design just the right place to tee off.

Is it time to stop building convention centers? (Atlantic Cities) As convention attendance falls, building new centers only increases competition between cities and causes cities to undercut each other.

Home prices rising slightly, but March sales were at record lows (Lender Processing Services) Real estate technology firm says March home sales were the lowest since the mid '90's.

Commercial / multi-family loans up 0.3% (Mortgage Bankers Assn) 3 of the 4 major multi-family investor increased their holdings in the first quarter.

Today in Pictures - Rosslyn's Sedona & Slate

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
JBG Companies has begun skinning its Rosslyn residential projects Sedona and Slate.  The two-building apartment project began construction in January of 2011, and JBG expects the project will be completed by the first quarter of next year. Clark Construction is building the project designed by Architects Collaborative. Both apartment buildings are expected to be LEED Silver Certified.

Arlington, Virginia real estate development news

Morning Real Estate Review

DSF Group opens first Dunn Loring Apartment building (Wall Street Journal)  DSF opens the 220-unit Lotus, the 2nd phase of Halstead Square at the Dunn Loring Metro station, in "the heart of Vienna's cultural district."

Foreigners scooping up U.S. homes in greater numbers (Bloomberg) The dollar value of U.S. homes purchased by foreigners was up 24% over the 12 months ending in March, accounting for 4.8% of the American housing market.

FRB says American wealth plunged by 38% due to home price drops (Bloomberg)  The median net worth of U.S. families dropped from 2007 to 2010 due to falling home prices.

U.S. Mint Building earns LEED Gold status

Penzance begins renovation work at Watergate office building (Washington Post)  Penzance purchased the building one year ago and will begin construction today after the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in.

DC Gov Puts 1300 H Street on the Market

Monday, June 11, 2012
The District of Columbia government put 1300 H Street, NE - formerly a library kiosk - on the market today as a future development site.  The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) solicited development activity on the 10,800 s.f. site this afternoon with a bid for redevelopment of the site into "mixed income housing, community-serving retail, recommended uses of the H Street Arts overlay, and other cultural amenities."

The site has been vacant for 2 years since the District closed the temporary library, even though the site is surrounded by thriving retail development.

Because the site falls within the arts overlay, a maximum density of 3.0 FAR for residential is permitted on the site, or 1.0 FAR for other uses, with a 50-foot height cap under current zoning rules or 65 foot height cap under a Planned Unit Development (PUD).

The District will hold a site conference for interested bidders on June 21st and hopes to select a development team in the fall.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Pennsylvania Avenue Office Building Redesign

David M. Schwarz Architects announced today it has been hired to redesign portions of the prominent Pennsylvania Building at 1275 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, and will begin work this fall.  The '50's office building was redeveloped in the '80's by owner Willco Companies, which purchased the building in the late '60's for $6,600,000. The 286,000 s.f. building was modernized in 2007.

The Pennsylvania Building sits across from Freedom Plaza and the Wilson Building.  Construction will entail re-skinning the lower three floors of the exterior stone façade, redesigning the metal and glass office entry marquee, a new rooftop terrace overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue, and a redesigned office lobby.
Shwarz is also designing 2700 Woodley in Woodley Park, JBG's U Street hotel and the addition to Ceasar's Palace in Las Vegas.

Washington D.C. real estate development news
David M. Schwarz Architects announced today it has been hired to redesign portions of the prominent Pennsylvania Building at 1275 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, and will begin work this fall.  The '50's office building was redeveloped in the '80's by owner Willco Companies, which purchased the building in the late '60's for $6,600,000. The 286,000 s.f. building was modernized in 2007.

The Pennsylvania Building sits across from Freedom Plaza and the Wilson Building.  Construction will entail re-skinning the lower three floors of the exterior stone façade, redesigning the metal and glass office entry marquee, a new rooftop terrace overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue, and a redesigned office lobby. 

Shwarz is also designing 2700 Woodley in Woodley Park, JBG's U Street hotel and the addition to Ceasar's Palace in Las Vegas.

Washington D.C. real estate development news