June 23, 2007

Gold Standard Valet Parking

The Story:

--- The DC Department of Transportation is considering regulations to create valet parking staging zones where restaurant, nightclub etc. customers could pick up or drop off their vehicles. Spaces will be leased for about $2,400 per year or $200 bucks per month.

View from the Bubble:

--- Stepping up DC parking services certainly could help DC restaurants attract suburban diners.
--- But 200 bucks a month for prime parking seems pretty cheap to us.

Link: WashExam

June 21, 2007

PNC to Build New Regional HQ in DC

The Story:
--- PNC, wich own Riggs Bank, plans to build a new HQ building at 17th and H Sts., NW. The planned 350K sf building will replace existing structures. The expectation is that the building, which will house PNC and other tenants, will be ready to go in 2010.

Bubble View:
--- PNC easily could have used this opportunity to relocate to Bethesda or Arlington. So Kudos to them for staying in the city. But that hardly would be fitting of the most important bank in the most important city in the world, as their slogan used to go.
--- Replacing the old Riggs buildings on 17th St. will surely help bring the area Farragut Square area, blocks from the White House, as DC's most prestigous and impressive.

Link: WashBiz

June 20, 2007

Zoning Chief Ousted

The Story:
--- Mayor Adrian I ousted zoning administer Bill Crews.
--- Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) delivered a letter Fenty asking why Crews, whom he described as "a respected individual," was removed from "this hard to fill position." "Why would your administration create a vacancy when the Office of the Zoning Administrator continues to struggle with a backlog?"

Bubble View:
--- If Mendleson is correct, this move will complicate many large-scale projects in the pipeline.

Links: WashExam, WaPo

June 19, 2007

Deal At Capital City Market Close

The Story:
--- Under an emerging plan, Apollo Management will help finance and plan the redevelopment of the Capital City Market into a mixed-use project to be called “New Town.”
--- The DC Council last December approved legislation that allows for redevelopment of the market, which sits at the corner of Florida and New York avenues in Northeast, so long as more than half of the merchants agree.

View from the Bubble:
--- Because DC is such a small city and is contrained by the height limit, it must develop every square inch to maximize tax revenue to make it a viable city. So this development is good.
--- Yet it is unfortunate that interesting elements such as the market must be largely blotted out as a result.

Link: WashExam

More Retail Planned for Brentwood

The Story:
--- Mid-City Urban is marketing a $96 million project near the Rhode Island Metro station to national and local retailers. The town center, modeled after the Shirlington and Bethesda Row projects, will have 70k SF of shops and restaurants in this forgotten DC neighborhood.
--- There has been much interest in DC retail of late.

View from the Bubble:
--- This seems a bit of a long shot in light of the fact that the retail near Home Depot and Giant took so long to fill.

Link: WashBiz

June 17, 2007

Preservationists vs. The Feds at St. Elizabeth's

The Story:
--- It will cost $3 billion to properly restore the St. Elizabeth's site. Some say the Dept. of Homeland Security, which is looking at moving its headquarters to the site, will not create enough spin-off development because DHS will be so isolated due to security at the campus.
--- "The area is sorely in need of economic development," said Rebecca A. Miller, executive director of the D.C. Preservation League. "A walled-off citadel on the site is not going to help."

Bubble View:
--- Wishing for better development won't make it so. Only the federal government has the money to restore the property -- either it does the work for its own tenant or someone convinces the feds to pony up the dough.
--- The impact of DHS is being undersold. The Pentagon sure transformed Arlington and it has tight security too. DHS workers will have to live somewhere.

Link: WaPo

LIne Forms to the Left

---for new townhouses in Southeast near the Baseball Stadium. Folks are camping out for when the units become available in July.

Bubble View:
---People say the market is soft and say they are crazy. Maybe they are.

Link: WaPo

Post Catches Up on Hecht's

The Story:
--- Erik Kolar, president of Patriot Equities, which purchased the property said he is exploring the right combination of uses for the building and "the focus has been on industrial, office and retail."

Links: WaPo, Bubbleview

Metro HQ Move Gets Serious

The Story:
--- Metro will open a three-month window for considering offers to relocate its headquarters. Relocation offers can come from all local jurisdictions after Metro adopts criteria for evaluating the proposals.
--- Mayor Adrian Fenty I submitted an unsolicited offer in April for Metro to move to a new building near its Anacostia station as part of the city's efforts to revitalize that area.

Bubble View:
--- Freeing up downtown development space would be great for the city, but its hard to believe Metro employees would relish a move to Anacostia.

Link: WashExam

June 16, 2007

Condo Sales Hype

The Story
--- Developers of the Grant condo in Logan Circle threw a glitzy party to boost sales. The party with a National player drew attention in the WaPo.
--- Why hold these sales parties? "We're in Washington. People love their events and their black tie and their kind of sassy parties," said Tracy Danneberg, special events coordinator for Metropolis Development. "You have to keep up with it and be different."

Bubble View:
--- Do these parties really sell units? Recently I saw a party for the Beauregard and thought to myself looking at all the cliched buff men dressed in black, this would be a turnoff if I were a buyer. (I think the park expensive cars out front and import beautiful people to enhance the look too.) I thought the first rule of effective sales is: make the client feel comfortable, not feel intimidated.
--- I wonder if the sales staff likes this marketing tool because they want to want to throw a party, not because it improves sales. I want to see the balance sheet not be feed sorbet cocktails. Then again, the second rule of marketing is: sell the sizzle, not the steak, especially when the steak is not the best cut.
--- Third rule: The flashier the party, the lousier the deal.

Link: WaPo

June 15, 2007

Rape! Murder! in Friendship Heights!

Putting an overwrought debate to rest, the DC Zoning Commission gave initial approval to the 5220 Wisconsin Ave. condo project. The seven story building caused one ANC commissioner assert that moving forward with this project is akin to "fxxxin rape our neighborhood."

Bubble View:
--- Please. Admist the Steak and Eggs and cars, people are actually fighting development. This site is blocks from a Metro station. C'mon people time to step up and say no to baloney sandwichs.

Wrong Way to Run A Railroad

Or sell a condo in this market.

The Story:
--- Price it high, and then slowly drop the price as the days and weeks go by as the listing gets older and older.

Take note of this unit at 2020 Lofts. True the condo is sleek and handsome. "Corner unit with huge outside terrace from 2nd floor den with views of capitol." Granite and stainless kitchen. Yada Yada. Parking. A couple of blocks to the Metro. Up and coming neighborhood. Sign me up.

Asking price: $799k. Whoa. And that's after three price drops. It started at $889k in February.

View from the Bubble:
--- It's almost been on the market six months. What's the point? The listing is so old and buried in the MLS the only people who will see it are ones trolling for price drops. I bet if the agent started at $750k in March it would have been bid up to close to their ask by April Fool's Day.
--- Remember the mantra: In a slowing market you must price it right to succeed.

June 14, 2007

Get Your Ipod in DC!!

But where? asks WashBiz. Moreover, where should Apple locate a DC retail store? Georgetown, U Street, Gallery Place? Vote here.

Bubble View:

--- Downtown, Gallery Place, Metro center is really becoming a retail counterweight to Georgetown, which used to be the only part of DC that major retailers would look at. Downtown has 24-7 foot traffic with it mix of office and residential development. Someday it may even eclipse Georgetown because it also as the Metro, which Georgetown does not.

June 13, 2007

JPI Breaks Grounds on Three of Four in SE

The Story:
--- Three of the four apartment towers that JPI is building in SE has broken ground. The latest is 900 New Jersey Ave. SE, a 13-story building that will contain 237 residential units and 6,000 sf of retail.
--- The first two projects expected to deliver in summer of 2008. The 70 Eye St. SE project will have 448 units in two towers designed in an industrial warehouse style; while 100 Eye St. will provide 246 units in a glass and white terrazzo marble building.
--- Next year, JPI plans to break ground for its final building, 23 Eye St., SE with 421 residential units and up to 35,000 sf of retail space.

Link: GlobeSt.

June 12, 2007

New York Ave. Deal

Federated Dept. stores finally found a suitor for the old Hecht's Warehouse on 1401 New York Ave. NE. Wayne, Pa.-based Patriot Equities LP has a contract to buy the Art Deco structure for an undisclosed price.

The massive 750,000-sf warehouse will be turned into a mixed-use complex on the site, with retail, office space, and residential units. No details as of yet.

Link: WashBiz

Bubble View:
--- With Abdo Development's nearby Arbor Place project, which will transform 17 acres at New York and Bladensburg Road, New York Ave. is set for revitalization. No longer will the trip down New York Ave. from or to I-95 be a journey through desolation. New York Ave. will be a destination, not just a place to drive through. Abdo plans 3,500 residential units, 200K of retail, and over 3 acres of open space. The first phase is planned to be completed by 2009.
--- Moreover, a transformation of New York Ave. will set a new tone for DC. People come here and their impression of the city was formed by the journey. Today that journey is depressing, but in ten years it will be a completely different experience.

June 11, 2007

Opryland Looms As DC Hotels Go Luxe

The Story
--- Gaylord has booked nearly a million room-nights at its National Harbor hotel in PG county.
--- Many bookings are with groups that have met at Gaylord's other hotels. Nearly 80 percent of its business will be with convention groups that look for all-inclusive meeting and resort facilities.
--- At the same time, many DC hotels are going upscale with renovations. Magic Johnson and a group of Los Angeles investors just bought the Hinckley Hilton Washington for $290 million and plan to spend $100 million more on renovations.

View from the Bubble:
--- Perhaps DC is becoming more and more the destination for the affluent and sophisticated. Nonetheless more hotel space over near the convention center would not hurt.
--- Is Gaylord siphoning business as the WaPo suggests? Two ways to look at this. Gaylord will bring more conventions to the DC area that would have otherwise never have come here in the first place. That's good for DC because more conventioneers will wander downtown to see the sites and spend some dough. On the other hand, Gaylord will siphon off conventions that otherwise would have come downtown. The Air Force Assn. will move its convention to Gaylord, as will the AICPA.
--- Much depends on how much shopping and dining these groups do -- the more sophisticated the group, the less likely they will be satisfied by Gaylord. Also it will be hard to get DC speakers, such as members of Congress, to travel down to Gaylord.
--- Some conventioneers could even end up at Gaylord for the conference, and then spend the weekend in DC as a getaway. That's what I did when I went to Opryland in Nashville.

Link: WaPo on Gaylord, WaPo on hotel upgrades

It's A Condo, It's A Rental, Whatever You Like

The Story:
--- Just like at Quincy Court, many units at 1010 Massachusetts Ave., that's ten ten Mass, are being offerred as rentals in this "condo" building. Allegedly 70% or so of the units have been sold, so the prospective landlords must be owner-investors. Its surprising how many units are being offerred by investors as seen on craigslist: rentals. Not sure what I make of this.
--- Prices at the 163-unit bulding start at $400k and go up to $1.5m. This one is for sale on craigslist too.
---The building, which should be ready late this summer, will have the usual granite and stainless kitchen. Rooftop pool is nice.

View from the Bubble:
--- No doubt the ability to hold condos off the sales market as rentals is helping to shore the DC condo market up, as seen from the May sales data. Unlike Condos in Chantilly, say, the owners can sell or rent. It's nice in life to have options.
--- This condo is not really in a gentrifying neighborhoods as much as a forgotten one. Not much retail nearby or restaurants for that matter. Nonetheless the Mt. Vernon Sq. area is convenient to downtown and close to Logan Circle etc. Beck is around the corner.

June 10, 2007

School Mashup

The Story:
--- Can DC schools be saved, the WaPo asks? The story is gloomy and reeks of a suburban perspective. True DC shools are abysmal, but there are some bright spots that are ignored.
--- DC spends $12,979 per pupil each year, ranking it third-highest among the 100 largest districts in the nation. True DC schools must perform many state functions, but $13k/year?

View from the Bubble:
--- Only with good schools can DC truly become a great city. Unless there is more than a handful, the old pattern I-got-pregnant-and-moved-away will continue. Furthremore, DC's underclass will remain as such with a professional class with kids to school to look up to.
---Mayor Fenty I must do something about the excessive admin costs incurred by DC.

Links: WaPo Mashup here.

June 9, 2007

Two Reasons to Dump Your Real Estate Agent

The Story:
--- Reason One: Commissions are up, says the WaPo. According to a review of revenue and cost data from hundreds of brokerages by the industry publication Real Trends, the average commission rose by nearly one-fifth of a percentage point last year, to just under 5.2 percent.
--- Reason Two: Northwestern University study says sellers without agents did better in head-to-head comparision in Madison, Wisc., where the study was conducted.

Waterfront Bargain or A Greedy Dream

The Offer:
--- $245K. 700 SF or so one bedroom for sale at Carrollsburg Condominium at 1250 4th St SW. Mid-range renovation granite and stainless. Parking for another $25K. My guess about 700 SF.

--- Capitol view. Outdoor pool. Walkable to Rayburn, DOE, DOT or the baseball stadium.
--- Don't like this one? Try one of these to buy or rent.
--- Built in 1967, the Carrollsburg offers mid-century charm, if can appreciate it. Lose the granite for some retro formica.

What's It Worth To Ya?
--- Buying as an investor or an owner occupant would take some vision. The waterfront is charmless now, but in ten years . . .
--- Will the stadium have a positive impact in 2008 or will it take a few more year?
---Owner might take an offer 10% below ask, since there is so much on the market.
--- Is there much of a rental market in Southwest?

June 8, 2007

Union Station Plaza to Get Facelift

The Story:
--- Construction should begin in the fall, assuming the the National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts give the green light. Construction on Columbus Circle, the plaza's formal name, should take 18 to 24 months.
--- "We're really looking to dramatically change that place, so that the taxi, bus, pedestrian and vehicular circulation is improved, as well as getting increased park space," says John Deatrick, chief engineer and deputy director of D-DOT.

Bubble View:
--- Hopefully this will improve the plaza, like the Thomas Circle rehab, improved that space. Though we have to wonder why a better job with the plantings on the revamped circle.

Link: WTOP

May 2007: Market for DC Condos, Single-Family Homes

The Story:

Link: Greater Capital Area Assn. of Realtors

The Dish:
--- Condos: Invetory is down. Contracts up over last year. Prices are flat. No bubble bursting. Neither buyers, nor seller have an advantage, but this could turn into a sellers market.
----Single Family Homes: Supply of new homes to the market is down. No real direction in prices, but they are higher than last year. Again no real advantage for buyers or seller.
---Buyers and sellers should remember the Mantra: "A well priced property will move in this market."

June 7, 2007

Vintage Clothes on the Hill

The Story:
--- Opening on Penn. Ave. near 8th St. is Remix, a vintage clothing store that got its start in Alexandria. "The boutique is a fusion of clothing, accessories and outer-wear that covers everything from dresses for the office to that hot little number to wear to that social mixer," said EdenMagazine.com. Mens and Women's clothing.

Link: Remix

The Dish:
--- Tries out in Del Rey, then opens in DC. Sounds like what Artfully Chocolate is doing. Whatever, the point is that entrepeneurs more and more are willing to invest their time and money in retail in the city. For years, we traveled to other cities and saw national chains and local boutiques all over, but not here. This has all changed.

Mobile Try-Out

The Story:

---Retailer Best Buy is trying out a new retail concept for a mobile phone store, which promises to offer more choices with eight different network carriers and an extensive equipment selection including about 90 handsets.
---Need a job? They are looking for a manager in DC. Click here. No word on the precise locale.

The Dish:
---National chain trying out a new concept. Ok. Once upon a time when they said DC, they meant Bethesda. National retailers are begining to take notice that this city has changed and are recognizing DC is a place where they can do business.
---Would you have believed this comment was being made about DC years ago? “The D.C. area really resonates with a customer segment we refer to as the urban trendsetter,” Jeff Dudash said, referring to the region’s young, affluent population that relies heavily on cell phones. Other initial target markets include New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Chicago and Minneapolis.

Link: WashExam

June 6, 2007

300 Bucks?!? For Seat Behind Home Plate?!?

Maybe building the new stadium was not such a great idea afterall. Seven bucks for the upper deck at RFK could be my idea of heaven. At least there I could afford the imported beer in a plastic bottle.

Link: WaPo

Only Two Strippers Per Ward

The Story:
---No word on whether this means one male and female strip club per ward. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force was active on this issue since the clubs displaced by the baseball stadium appeals to gays and lesbians.
---The deal on strip clubs worked out that places limits to two the number of clubs that can move to each ward, plus there must be a 1,200-foot buffer between the clubs and a 600-foot buffer between the clubs and churches, schools, libraries or playgrounds.

Our Take:
---We still believe that these businesses could spur development. That said, limiting the clubs to two per ward does help avoid overly concentrating them in one area. Unlikely that we will see these clubs in upper Northwest, or lower Northwest for that matter. The effect of all this is these clubs will probably jump across the river to Anacostia. How's that for the law of unintended consequences.

Links: WaPo, WashExam

Hotel Lands in Brookland

The Story:
--- Property (5.4 acres) used by Washington Hospital Center at 300 Michigan Ave. NE will be developed by Hospitality Partners into a hotel complex, said the WashExam. The D.C. Department of Housing & Community Development owns the land.
--- The plan is to build a 175-suite SpringHill Suites by Marriott, an 8,000-square-foot restaurant, 12,000-square foot conference center and 400-space parking lot in the first phase of the development. The second phase would include either additions to the existing hotel or a second structure operated as a Residence Inn.
--- Paul Cohn is expected to create a similar concept to Georgia Brown's at this property.
--- The project is in the design phase with construction expected to start by year-end, if all the approvals come through. The hotel is expected to open in the first quarter of 2009.

The Scoop:
--- Brookland has undergone its own transformation of late. Not as dramatic as other parts of the city, but change for the good is happening there too. Furthermore, there is much opportunity for future revival and this deal should only encourage others to follow.

June 5, 2007

A Czar Is Born

The Story:
--- The tussle is over, reports the WashBiz. The portfolios of the National Capital Revitalization Corp. and the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. will be folded into the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development. Details on the fight and the WaPo's Steve Pearlstein advising for a strong independent authority to oversee development.
--- WaPo chimes in too.

--- DMPED will rule the day. Let's hope we are not sorry we put the mayor in charge of everything (schools, economic development), when King Fenty I retires. Or when we discover we don't like him as much as we thought we did. To be fair, the jury is still out on Fenty, but DC sure is giving him lots of power for someone so untested.

WaPo: Development Agency Tussle

The Story:
--- The fight continues over should control the National Capital Revitalization Corp. and the Anacostia Waterfront Corp.? Mayor Fenty or a quasi-independent agency, which is "common in cities and states to promote real estate deals, streamline bureaucracy, and issue bonds," noted the WaPo.
--- The NCRC "has closed on 20 real estate transactions since 2000," including Tivoli Square in Columbia Heights, and chose PN Hoffman "as the master developer for the Southwest waterfront," said the WaPo.

DC Bubble Says:
--- Many complain about the pace of development under these agencies. Only molasses was slower that the Redevelopment Land Authority, which the NCRC replaced. In our view, these agencies are not broken, why fix them? Remember: reorganizing takes time too and distracts from the goal of redeveloping land. Push them. Prod them, but why change them?

How DC Eats Reveals So Much About Who We Are

The Story:

Three eagerly anticpated restaurants open downtown:
-- Marcel's chef Robert Wiedmaier opens Brasserie Beck at 1101 K St.

-- Cintronelle's Michel Richard opens Central at 1001 Penn. Ave.

-- Three-Star chef Antoine Westermman consulted on Cafe du Parc at 1401 Penn. Ave. in the Willard Hotel

What It Means:

-- Downtown has changed with these more casual restaurants. Casual? I looked forward to quaffing beef with my enormous mussels at Beck, but felt compelled to order wine. The space was just too cold to do otherwise. As for Central, Richard is as warm as Hilary Clinton at a $10k fundraiser. (Unless, of course, you are Hillary Clinton and we're sure Richard warms right up.) Cafe du Parc is the only truly casul one of the three and people are confused by its plate du jour simplicity and sophisticated touches. (Which one is it?!?, they ask.)

-- So maybe DC hasn't changed. It's stuffy, even if the marketing crew at the latest restaurants say otherwise. Is it the town's southern roots that provides the formal edge? A lack of sophistication that requires a certain propriety or else eveyone's inner-frat boy emerges? Perhaps the answer is all of the above, plus a few other factors I have not thought of.

-- But things are different. The fact that three high-profile chefs chose to locate new businesses downtown, not in Georgetown or on K St., shows how far the center of gravity has shifted in DC. Every day it seems to move further and further east. It's not just downtown, but also H St. NE, where in ten years the newest crop of culinary imports likely will land.

June 4, 2007

Dow To Hit One Million in 50 Years.

And housing costs in the region will likely soar about 2,800 percent from $477,000 now to $14 million in 2057, reports WTOP. Gasoline dropped in price six cents this week so it will be free in 50 years.

"We already have an affordability problem," said George Mason University professor Stephen Fuller, who directs the school's Center for Regional Analysis. "But this is really scary. It is going to take 11 times the average household income to afford the average-priced house." Ya right.

Anybody want to buy a bridge? How about the Washington Monument?

Toto We're Not in Kansas Anymore

Or the old DC for that matter. 22 West ain't cheap and it's not stodgy. Bob Dole would feel out of place. (He would stay put at the Watergate.)

The Story:

  • 95 Units, 1, 2 and 3 bdrms, $800K to $3.8 mil, 900 sf to 3500 sf

  • Zinc and glass facade,

  • Many units with 2 parking spaces, balconies

  • Rooftop pool overlooking Exxon station (yikes!)

  • The Scoop:
  • 22 West literally is being built around the Exxon station, which will be covered, hidden by a grass-covered canopy.

  • The West End used to be no man's land. Close to G'town for those who can't afford it. Now its taken on its own identity: close to G-Town and downtown but quieter with better retail (Trader Joes, more greenery.)

  • Are DC condo prices on the rise? Or is there just more super high-end supply that has masked post-bubble decline in prices? Could be both.

  • June 2, 2007

    Housing Costs Too High? More Crime Is The Answer

    Best way to counter rising housing prices: rising violent crime.

    Thus far in 2007 murders are up year over year by almost 10 percent, according to the Metropolitan police, which tends to underreport its numbers. In 2007, murders were down as seen here and here. For first time in decades there were less than 200 murders in the city.

    But crime is the Achilles heel of the DC renaissance. All the condos in NOMA will empty. All the families in Dupont Circle will move to suburbs. The retail in Columbia Heights will have unsold merch, if crime comes back.

    True, things are far, far better than they were in the 1980s and 1990s. But the DC renaisance has been depended on falling crime rates as much as anything else. Let's keep an eye on this ball.

    June 1, 2007

    Preservation League Guns for a Fight

    The DC Preservation Leauge issued its 2007 list of Most Endangered Places in a press release. Here's a sampling:

    • DCPL warns "the view from the west porch of the United States Capitol overlooking the “Grand Avenue” of the National Mall and beyond to the Potomac River and Arlington National Cemetery was once open to visitors. Today, extreme security measures cut off public access to this remarkable view . . . Centuries of careful urban planning that created a city symbolic of openness, freedom, and democracy have been overturned by spontaneous, ill planned measures."

      Is this a reference to the over zealous cops that put a few ropes on the Capitol, or a reference to the high-rises of Arlington? True the off-limit signs at the Capitol are off-putting, but the USA Today building and its ilk are worse, if you ask us DCPL. If the DCPL can wax about the lack of access, how about demanding that Arlington abide by the DC height limit?
    • Three former DC public schools located between North Capitol and 3rd Sts.
      NW "represent an irreplaceable view of the developing architecture." Armstrong High School, Slater Elementary School and Langston Elementary School. Though plans are in the works all now "are completely empty and prey to squatters and thieves," DCPL said. "Attempts to contact the Board of Education . . . regarding these schools and their dilapidated condition went unanswered." Shame.

    • The row houses of Columbia Heights, Eckington and Capitol Hill east are all under development pressure.

    • Last year we wrote about the risk of turning Mt. Pleasant Street into a strip mall.

    May 31, 2007

    Old Rental to Condo to Rental Trick

    Two years ago when part of McClean Gardens was being converted into a condo called Vaughan Place there was a brouhaha over how the conversion was done. Well nevermind. The unsold units are reverting to rentals, according to DCMud. Less than half of the units were reported sold as condos.

    One reason DC is missing the worst of the exploding real estate bubble is that strong rental market that exists here. Can't sell you condo; rent it.

    The long lines one used to see for sales open houses now are for rental open houses. In fact, the owner of the Vaughan have the rental portion of the building on the market too, says WashBiz.

    The Mystery of the Thirteen Lockboxes

    Above are the lockboxes outside of Quincy Court at 1117 10th St NW. Not quite Logan, not quite NOMA. Near the convention center and loads of other condo/lofts. Walkable to downtown. (A transitional 'hood going from abandoned to "upscale," somewhere on the road from dangerous to no man's land.)

    The 13 lockboxes look dramatic and suggest the condo bubble is bursting because there are soooo..... many unsold units. So how come the MLS only has six units listed accordning to ZipRealty?

    Upon closer inspection two of the six units are list by JP Real Estate Group and another two by condo marketer McWilliams/Ballard Inc. The JP Group website lists yet another unit as well, so seven total. Sounds fishy. What's going on here? How many units are there? Have the realtors forgotten to remove thier lockboxes after a unit sold? Unlikely.

    My dear Watson, units being mothballed by the developer!!! Indubitably. Or maybe not. Prices have begun to creep up, but that could be artificially created by developers holding on to units. If I had deep enough pockets that what I would be doing too.

    May 30, 2007

    It's Not Just Shiloh

    Shaw, NOMA and Logan Circle are plauged by more than 100 vacant, dilapidated properties the Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association complained to DC, the WashExam reported.

    MVSNA wants the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to devote more resources to fix the problem, to ensure vacant properties are assessed at the appropriate real estate tax rate — five times the standard levy — and to better maintain government-owned properties.

    No word on whether Shiloh Baptist owns any of these properties. The church is in the habit of letting the buildings it owns in the area rot. MVSNA identified 71 were vacant buildings and 29 were empty lots. The area the group focused on is the area bounded by New York Ave. NW to the south and N St. to the north, between 1st and 7th St.

    Why do landlords sit on these buildings when the city is reviving? Can you say condos? Too bad much of the property is probably in the hands of DC, which is in the habit of letting property it owns go underutilized.

    Square 54: One Step Closer

    The D.C. Zoning Commission unanimously approved the University's plan to develop Square 54 at its May monthly meeting, the GW Hatchet reported. The National Capital Planning Commission recommended that the Zoning Commission approve the plans in April.

    The $250 million Square 54 project will feature approximately 336 "luxury" residential units (non-university housing), with over 80,000 sf of retail space (including a 27,000-sf supermarket and outdoor café space) and 440,000 sf of office space overlooking Washington Circle. Boston Properties and KSI Services are the developers.

    Considering how complex the project is, it took GWU and the developers a reasonable amount of time to win approval of this project.

    Oh wait. There is a 35-day appeal period before GWU can move forward with its construction plans. The Foggy Bottom Association threatened this spring to appeal the Square 54 decision, so it is possible that such an organization might seek further legal action during this appeal period, the Hatchet said. (Sounds eerily like the Onion.)

    May 29, 2007

    DC Holds 75 Meetings with Retailers

    The city held 75-plus meetings with retailers at the International Council of Shopping Centers' annual convention last week, the WashTimes said. Retailers and restaurateurs cited the trifecta of high education levels, high income and high growth as the reason they wanted to be in the District.

    For instance, DC is in talks with Nordstrom about opening in G-Town. That would be a coup.

    Jair Lynch Gets a Bad Rap

    The DC program to benefit local, small, disadvantaged business enterprises (LSDBE) is flawed, argues Jonetta Rose Barras in the WashExam. DC set aside millions of dollars for such LSDBE firms yet they often do shoddy work and are not rotated out of the program when and if they grow in size.

    Developer Jair Lynch Cos., Rose contends remains LSDBE certified despite "despite repeated questions about the quality of its work." Jair Lynch has been active in Columbia Heights and Logan Circle.

    May 28, 2007

    Gettin' Ready for the First Pitch

    The plan is to get The Yards' streetlights and sidewalks ready for baseball's opening day next spring, said the WaPo. Ultimately Forest City Washington and its partners will build or rehabilitate more than 25 buildings and fill them with 1.8 million square feet of office space, stores, businesses, restaurants, and residences.

    "You really can create a neighborhood, and that's exactly what we're doing," says Deborah Ratner Salzberg, 54, president of Forest City Washington. "We are building . . . an active waterfront that will transform an entire section of this city."

    DC is going to be a very different place in 2020. But without the baseball stadium this part of town would have been forlorn and forgotten.

    DC Schools Should Be Reading from the YMCA's Grammer Book

    In exchange for a portion of its land, Perseus Realty will rebuild the YMCA's Anthony Bowen facility at 1325 W St. NW and help the institution upgrade its facilities. "We are going to grow from a little tiny Y to a big facility with a huge swimming pool," said Pam Curran, vice president of operations of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington in the WashExam.

    Perseus will own the 200 apartments and retail portions of the development (12,000 sf) and the YMCA will own its 45,000-square-foot facility. The apartments will be market-rate housing for the most part, with a percentage set aside as affordable units under D.C.'s inclusionary zoning law.

    Message to other institutions in the city: To stay relevant sometimes you must make a deal because there are no white knights out there to write you a check. Grow, change or die.

    Along the same lines, the Tenleytown libray is looking to do a parntership revitalize itself, and and various public schools have been exporing thier options as well.

    May 27, 2007

    Don't Investment $$$ Follow Nightclubs

    Remember when there was nude dancing on 9th St? Now there are offices and million dollar condos. Remember when there were similar clubs in Southeast? Now there is a baseball stadium.

    So what's wrong with moving nightclubs to the New York Ave. corridor in Ivy City and Trinidad? Won't invest dollars follow? Residents complain the clubs will be too close together. Fair enough.

    Even Councilman Harry Thomas Jr., in the Wash Exam, said "the fiber of that neighborhood has been waiting for a lot of change." Many club owners already have bought property in the area, the WaPost reports.

    Maybe people complaining the loudest, don't own property and fear they will be forced out. Don't nudie bars need workers? Hello . . . jobs.

    May 26, 2007

    RAISE THE ROOF!!! Again!!!

    Reiterating his argument that the height limit is bad for DC, UMD Prof.Roger Lewis in the the WaPo argued that with relaxed height limits:

    "there would be places where taller, more iconic edifices could serve as landmarks. A bit more variation in building heights, and slightly more height for buildings framing key intersections, could enhance the look of many streetscapes. "

    In effect, with downtown street widths rarely exceeding 90 feet to 110 feet, D.C. buildings can rise no more than 110 feet or 130 feet, except on Pennsylvania Avenue, where 160 feet is allowed.

    Does the hight limit really matter when they are building 30 stories in Arlington? Brookings' Christopher Leinberger argued DC must grow up to grow.

    May 25, 2007

    Over at GPLiving they seem to be upset that a planned building at 704 3rd St. NW will feature commercial space only, but no retail, no condos, no apartments.

    Considering for how many decades downtown went with virtually only commercial development and considering how much residential it has experienced (along with neighboring hood) of late, DC Bubble has to now respectfully say maybe we have struck a good balance.

    Mixing commerical and residential development produces an 18 hour neighborhood. Retail can cater to officeworkers and residents from 7 am until 1 am. Coffee and bagels, lunch and soft goods, dinner and a movie and drinks afterward.

    Now please don't construe this post as a criticism GPliving (because we love you to death!!), but we think a mix is better than too much of a good thing like residential development.

    Thanks GP for the photo and the effort you put in to get it.

    WashExam: DC Real Estate Market Recovering

    WashExam headline says it all: "National, local housing market data mixed, but District shows recovery signs."

    In the DC and Inside the Beltway, however, the market is beginning to gain steam, according to real estate broker Donna Evers. Volume is down, prices have started to go up after months of steady declines.

    “The closer you get to the city, the hotter the market is,” she said. “If you look across the country, recovery has not occurred; they’re still in 2006 mode. Recovery has certainly occurred in Washington this spring.”

    Further evidence of a nacsent turnaround:


    DC had a meeting with Nordstrom about the idea of bringing the store to the dated Georetown Park mall, reports the WaPo. "We look for a location . . . that already has entertainment and restaurants that draw customers," a Nordstrom official says.

    Western Development is reported to be planning major changes to upgrade the mall, which was built in the 1980s. There is talk of some sort of subsidy too. DC officials compared the situation to the construction of Gallery Place.

    Remember when DC passed on a downtown Bloomingdales in the 1990's because it would not provide a subsidy. Times sure have changed.

    May 24, 2007

    Chocolate Store Opening in Logan Circle

    Joining the growing list of fun and upscale retail in Logan Circle is Artfully Chocolate, which will be housed at 1529 14th St. NW below the Matrix Condo, which still has a few units left for sale.

    The store will feature chocolate drinks (hot chocolate with chipotle chiles), candies, truffles, and works of art crafted by co-owner Eric Nelson. Also "customers will be able to watch the chocolatiers through a window," reported the WashExam.

    The Logan Circle locale is a second store for the owners, who also have an outlet in the Del Rey section of Alexandria. Sounds like they tried out the concept there, and now are rolling out this store in a more prominent locale. Years ago the second store would be in Bethesda or if in DC only Georgetown would have been considered, but with the retail revival so many more neighborhoods are becoming more livable and interesting.

    14th St. is fast becoming a new version of Conn. Ave. in Dupont. More upscale than 17th, 14th has newer and larger buildings so it can draw away retailers like Universal Gear and attract new ones like Mitchell Gold, which in turn attract new restaurants like Viridian. There are positive spinoffs left and right on 14th.

    Hybrids Not Hyer-Fares For DC Taxis

    Maybe the answer to higher gasoline costs is more fuel efficient cabs not a one buck per ride surchage, which the Taxi Cab Commission re-imposed as reported by DCist.

    NYC said it wants to have an all hybrid fleet by 2012. "What we are trying to do is make the world a better place without waiting for Washington," Mayor Bloomber said. Maybe Washington (DC) should stop waiting for Washington too.

    Our beef here is that DC has a 1940's technology at work in its cabs. No meters (1950s tech), no ads to offset fares (1960s tech), no seatbelts (1970s tech), no hybrid drivechains (2000s tech.)

    Can something, anything be done to modernize, change DC's cabs?

    U Street Futurama!!!

    If DC condo buyers replaced the industrial fixtures in their loft condos with mission inspired lighting to go with their arts and crafts inspired furniture, what will the dwellers of the Lacey condo to make it look "traditional." I got it!!! Drape the exposed walkways in mauve velvet!! Put Campari prints over the glass!!

    You have to admire Imar Hutchins for breaking the mold. The website brags: "Concrete walls, a solid steel framework, and transparent glass panels combine to create an intriguing 24,000 square foot, 4-story structure complete with an interior atrium. " Feels like Brasilia, circa 1963.

    Located at 1100 Florida Ave. NW, next to the Florida Ave. Grill (in fact this used be the grill's parking lot), you have to think that only in an emerging area like the U St. corridor could someone develop something as avant-garde as this 24 unit building. Boldness aside, the building sure does create a bit of a hodgepodge on the street.

    Hope they can sell 'em.

    May 23, 2007

    Time To Move the Reeves Center

    The opening of the Reeves Center at 14th and U Sts. NW helped revive the U Street corridor. But much of the upscaling of U St. seems to have skipped that corner, which is dingy even by U St. standards.

    Now the D .C. Office of Property Management has scheduled a June 5 public meeting to hear ideas on the future of the atrium and lobby of the building, reported the WashExam. The idea is to freshen the retail mix, which now includes a convenience store, cobbler etc.

    Simply rethinking the first floor is “shortsighted,” said Dee Hunter, U Street advisory neighborhood commissioner. The entire building “should be in play,” he said, because its deteriorating condition is “hampering the revitalization of the neighborhood.”

    Maybe the whole building should be shipped off to Anacostia to help revive that part of the city. Or at least more retail could be constructed on the plaza that faces the corner.

    Let's think big Mr. Fenty.

    Four Buck Gas Good for DC

    and every other urban area in the country. "We love it out here, plus we are only 25 miles from Dupont Circle" say many suburbanites.

    Well with traffic congestion suburban life now means more time in your car and with rising gasoline prices that means more money for the daily drive on 66, 95 or whatever interstate you pick. Moreover, the extra cost per square foot of that condo can now be more easily offset because of historicly high gasoline prices.

    Of course, no one is going to move their settled family of four from Loudon to DC because of the high price of fuel. But if a family -- particularly a family of one -- is deciding where to live, the relative impact of commuting costs has changed as long as gasoline prices stay high. The way SUV sales are down, the prices of DC homes and condos tends to go up, all else being equal as the economists say.

    True enough the price will settle down after driving season is over, but the high price is contributing to the DC renaissance. No doubt about it.

    Movin' On Up

    DC continues to experience an upswing with property gaining in value as the city rebounds.

    Case in point the recent purchase by Hines of 2100 M St NW for $152.5 million at $497.29/square foot. The acquisition of the Farragut North property was done out of their value-add office investment program, said Globest.com.

    One way Hines might add value to the project would be to add an additional 100,000 sf to the building, according Hines Vice President John Harned.

    Harned may be thinking he can add a floor or two, which seems to be a trend of late. Ideally, he could add another 20, rather than just two, but alas that would mean we live in Arlington and not the nation's capitol.

    May 22, 2007

    Another Reason DC Housing Remains Strong

    Losing sleep because you worry that mortgage foreclosures will harm the DC housing market? Time to rollover and hit that snooze button.

    There were 58 foreclosures in DC in April, compared with 25,198 in California, according to the Bargain Network. Of course, California is a much, much larger market but a high level of foreclosures is not a factor here. For one thing, we have a very stable job base and economy.

    So when you read headlines warning about concerns about housing prices and their impact on the DC market: we say forgetaboutit.

    NAACP In DC: Definitely Maybe Not

    Last year the NCAACP announced plans to move from Baltimore to DC, but the WashExam reported that the deal is off.

    In fact, the developers of the Anacostia Gateway, a 63,000-square-foot mixed-use project the NAACP was supposed to move into, have put the building back on the market. The goal of the project was is to help revitalize that part of town and capture more jobs and retail.

    The deal seemed to make sense for the NAACP too. Closer to the Capitol. In the heart of the DC, African American community. Nope. Among other things, the deal to sell the NAACP headquaters in Baltimore collapsed, according to the WashExam.

    As for the Anacostia Gateway, the owners expect to have the building under contract to sell by the end of this month. Things seem like they are slowly percolating in DC's final frontier.

    May 21, 2007

    An Anacostian Tragedy

    Shakespeare would have loved this one. Intrigue. Broken hearts. Greed. Lust. Negligence.

    To the dismay of many, the Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to foreclose and sell Sayles Place at 2716 Douglas Pl SE to the highest bidder at auction Wednesday, despite the fact that the residents have financial backing to buy the property, said the WaPo.

    HUD said it is foreclosing because the residents "did not improve physical and financial conditions to an acceptable level" as required under their cooperative agreement. Among other things, the property was cited for windows that don't open, doors that don't close properly and stove burners that don't work. The property repeatedly failed inspection.

    To make matters worse . . . we mean more interesting . . . Mayor-For-Life Marion Barry is involved. "I'm going to fight as hard as I can to get this turned around." Falstaff speaks.

    Tectonic Shift: Alexandria Slipping Away From DC

    With each new feature that comes to the southern half of the city you can almost feel Alexandria and all its trade associations moving further and further away. Not in a physical sense, but in terms of travel time. While they once claimed "we're only minutes from Capitol Hill," only a year or two from now that will change to "we're only an hour, except on game days."

    The impact on traffic of the baseball stadium, the redevelopment of L'Enfant Plaza, the Waterside Mall, the Southwest waterfront, the condo development has caught the attention of Councilman Tommy Wells noted the WashExam. “Even when there’s not a baseball game. We’re going to have to come up with a new traffic plan to begin with,” he said.

    Also in the works is the redevelopment of the Randall School at 65 I St. SW, which was sold last year to the Corcoran Gallery for $6.2 million. Under the proposal, two-thirds of the original school building would be preserved and renovated to house new classroom, exhibition and studio space for the Corcoran College of Art and Design. As many as 500 new condominium units will replace the remaining buildings.

    Maybe its time for those trade associations to relocate back to the city.

    Who's The Boss

    Now that its become a "how" not an "if" question about whether the National Capital Revitalization Corp. and the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. should be folded into a single new agency, DC Bubble points to a recent collumn by Steve Pearlstein in the WaPo for an answer.

    The jist of what he recommends and we believe he is correct is that:

    • A legally independent authority is the politically the best solution,
    • The director of the authority should serve at the mayor's pleasure,
    • The authority should be self-funded through rents etc.

    What's at stake here is the Anacostia waterfront redevelopment, the future of the old D.C. General Hospital site, St. Elizabeths Hospital and the McMillan Reservoir etc.

    Things may have progress more slowly that some would have liked with these two entities, but this is DC the city with northern charm and southern efficiency. Things always seem to move as slow as molasses here, not that we object to things being pushed along.

    May 20, 2007

    The New Mantra for the Slowing Market

    "The market is soft if you don't price it right." Repeat.

    Elaborating Jane Fairweather of Coldwell Banker in Bethesda told the WaPo "You're now seeing probably 10 to 15 percent of the sellers out there who are going to see multiple contracts. Two years ago, it was probably 40 to 50 percent of the market that got multiple contracts. And the year before that and the year before that, 60 percent of the market got multiple contracts."

    Some real estate agents say that, despite key statistics that show the slowest housing market in years, they are seeing cases of multiple bids and rising prices concentrated in close-in neighborhoods such as Chevy Chase DC and American University Park.

    Peter Morici, an economic professor in the University of Maryland, added "with higher prices of gasoline, the preference of living far away is going to diminish, and that is going to make housing within the Beltway more attractive."

    May 19, 2007

    O St. Market Development Creeps Along

    After years of delays and bad luck, Roadside Development is getting ready to move ahead with a development at the 8th and O Market, reported WashBiz.

    The plans call for a new Giant Food store, a 180-room hotel, 300 condos, 300 apts, including senior affordable housing, 7,500 SF of locally owned retail, a reopened 8th St. and 700 parking spots, which will be offerred to neighboring churchs on Sunday. Can you believe?

    Roadside recently has been before the review board of the D.C. Historic Preservation Office and is still working to get approal. It also will apply for at least $40 million in tax increment financing from the city.

    Given the politics, preservation and other issues, it will be a miracle of this finally moves forward. With all the balls Roadside is juggling on this one, DC Bubble hopes the end-product is good enough to full the vow made by the developer. Armond Spikell, a Roadside Development principal, promised "This will be an economic engine for the entire corridor." We shall see.

    May 18, 2007

    Cool Moderno Condo Breaks Ground on U Street

    Ground has been broken on the Moderno on U St. Like the other buildings developed by Robertson Development and Lakritz Adler, this condo is very stylish and breaks the mold of DC residential development. This is the kind of high-end residential building that DC was lacking for so long.

    Flats. Duplexes and Triplexes with very fancy-shmancy finishes.

    Presumably there is no extra charge for the purple prose on the Moderna website. Would the following make you feel better about buying here? "The spare sophistication of the modern furniture displayed at MoMa. The newest styles on the runways of Paris and New York. Even the simple clean lines of a wine glass." Not me.

    Trinity of Church-Owned Buildings Condemned

    Shiloh Baptist Church owns numerous buildings along quickly revitalizing 9th St., in Logan Circle/Shaw. Which of course the church would want to leverage and help its congregation and community, right? Wrong.

    Their properties are eyesores and breed crime. And many, many electrons have been spilled on the net describing how awful the situation is.

    Finally, the city has done something by condemning three of the properties, reports WJLA. Alexander Padro, an ANC Commissioner, says he has been trying for years to get Shiloh to do something about the dozen or so vacant properties the church owns around the hood." It should be embarrassing but you can't even get them to talk to you face to face," he said.

    Shiloh Baptist has been unhappy about some new development in the hood, so what do they want? As for the property, we're not sure what the next step is and have a feeling this will be part of a very long process knowing our lovable city.

    The Wash Exam reports if Shiloh does not make the necessary improvements, DC will be authorized to do the work and then file a lien against the properties for the cost. In 2006, the
    church paid more than $68,600 in real estate taxes, including penalties, on the condemned buildings, which together are valued at more than $2 million.

    Update: Now the church says it will make repairs.

    May 17, 2007

    The "Masterplan" Is Working

    In 2000, blacks made up 60 percent of the District's population. By 2006, that figure was 55 percent, according to the US Census Bureau.

    "What you see are whites moving into the city because they are able to afford the pricey housing in all these areas that are gentrifying and becoming much more middle and upper-middle class," said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, told the WaPo.

    “A lot of neighborhoods are going through a process of change and growth,” Brookings Institution demographer Audrey Singer told the WashExam, which noted changes in neighborhoods such as Chinatown and Capitol Hill.

    DC Bubble hates the defensiveness and guilt surrounding these numbers. While some African American fear there is a "masterplan" to turn Chocolate City into a place only for the blonde-and-blue eyed, many whites engage in hand-wringing because they are forcing out black families. How many blacks have been forced out of Noma or downtown where the condos were built on brownfields? Or sorry can you feel for the black family that moved from DC to PG county where the schools are better?

    Frat Boy Culture Sinking Adams Morgan

    At least, that's what Alan Popovsky, owner of Felix at 2406 18th St. believes. "We have to look toward the future," says Alan Popovsky, "and Adams Morgan is not the future," he told the WaPo. Plus there are too many Pizza joints etc.

    We agree a little. Adams Morgan has lost some of its off-beat character. Most of the Salvadorean restaurants are gone. There are more bars for suburbans on the prowl. But The Dinner and Design Within Reach show how the neighborhood can grow.

    As for Popovsky, the West End is where Popovsky sees potential: bustle and affluence. "It's the next hot residential neighborhood," so he is taking over the David Greggory restaurant (2030 M St. NW) and turning the location into an all-day "contemporary American brasserie" called Hudson. (Eric Ripert of La Bernardin, NYC, also is looking at the West End, says Metrocurean.)

    It is odd, though, hearing a bar owner complain about bars.

    May 16, 2007

    What's Wrong With Conversions?!?

    "The Bad News" On Condos: In Q1 2007, 3,472 condo units that were either in the planning stage or about to come on line in the Washington area were changed to apartments and another 790 were simply canceled, says the WaPo. Sounds like the signs of a healthy market to us because many investors want to own rental units based on the belief that people want to rent in this market.

    Need more another sign of health: there were 395 condo contracts in April of 2007 compared with 354 and 434 from the same month in 06 and 07. So April 07 was a good month, not great, not horrific.

    We beleive where the bubble is bursting is outside the Beltway, not in DC.

    Zara Zeros in on Za Zity

    The sign says it all. Zara is opening on F St. next to H & M and around the corner from Macy's and West Elm. As first reported forever ago by GPLiving, this store will be the largest Zara outside NYC (over 20k ft).
    Slowly, surely, slowly. Downtown is beginning to craft itself as a retail destination. The node on 7th St. with the movie theater and shops now has a counterpart on F St. and its all being stiched together. All so slowly. But it is happening. Wouldn't the ladies lunching at the Garfinkle's lunch counter be pleased?

    May 15, 2007

    USA Today: DC Condos A Relative Bright Spot

    USA Today reported that "Condo sales have propped up residential real estate in the nation's capital this year." This is what DC Bubble has been saying.

    While USA Today adds that the median condo price in the District of Columbia in April was $350,000, 4% lower than last year, it fails to note that month-over-month sales have begun to creep back up. For April, the median sales price was $350k, up 2.3 percent since the prior month.

    Developers "built a lot of condos in a relatively short period of time," Vanessa de Merode, an agent at Long & Foster, told USA Today. "It slowed the market down. There were larger price adjustments."

    The market for single family homes has been more mixed. One of the strongest segments is homes priced from $800,000 to $900,000, said USA Today.

    Wanna Be A TV Star?

    First you gotta be dumpy and need of a makeover. Next you must be a house (not sure if a condo qualifies though a building that needs to freshen its image might want to send an email.)

    The producers of the TV show Curb Appeal are "looking for homeowners in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to participate in the popular series."

    "We can change the appearance of the exterior of home in the course of six to eight weeks. Experienced designers and contractors work within your set budget to make significant changes and totally transform your house."

    I wonder if they film you writing the check to their contractors too? Hmmm.....

    May 14, 2007

    Age-Old Story of Renters vs. Landlords

    It's a battle that has been fought over the years, decades and centuries. Even the title, landlord, sounds older than dcbubble or even older than the Internet.

    In the latest round, the Tenacity Group is battling the tenants at the Norword Apts. in Shaw at 5th and P Sts. "When we started complaining about the conditions in the building, they (the owners) said, 'Oh, it's time to go condo,'" Norwood tenant Randy Green told the AP as reported by the WashExam. Yikes!! This sounds truly awful for those that live there.

    As for the property owners, its about maximizing thier investment. Most of whom are fat cats, but some are old widows on fixed, albeit probably high, incomes. Besides this is a capitalist country remember.

    Tenacity obviously knows its game. They probably call themselves Tenacity for a good reason.

    Given the financial collars placed on DC (no commuter tax, height limit), its hard to forgo tax revenue for low-income apartments, especially when others want to pay double and triple per square foot. Afterall, Shaw is gentrifying too.

    Next They'll Want to Mothball the Internet

    It's hard to over-estimate how great the circulator bus is. Wanna go shopping in Georgetown but you are standing in front of your condo downtown or just finished a meeting on Capitol Hill? Take the Metro? But it don't go. Take a cab? Only if the boss is paying. The Circulator is the answer.

    So why do some malign it. "I think it is time to put the Circulator in mothballs. In my daily travels, I find most of the buses barely occupied," someone told the WaPo.

    Hello. . . The circulator is the only way to get across town. The bus got even better a month or so back when it was extended up Wisconsin Ave.

    Ok naysayers. DDOT statistics for the Circulator system show ridership is growing. Total ridership for April 07 was 202,000, compared with about 182,000 in April 06. Slow, but steady growth.

    May 13, 2007

    Ohhh....I Should Have Bought That Parking Space

    See where that SUV is parked? It's yours for 25K.

    Right smack in the middle of Columbia Heights at 14th and Euclid. Way back in the early 1990's you probably could have had a very nice apartment in that same neighbor for that same price.

    Makes one think that the smart move perhaps would have been to invest in parking, not condo. You can't really live on parking space though . . . or can you?

    May 12, 2007

    "They're Coming In To Fxxxx Rape Our Neighborhood."

    Can you believe? Next to the Metro and on a major street people would argue against, "a high rise" building. The outrage! Imagine a seven-story building!

    As the WaPo notes, the Maryland side of Western Ave. features Neiman Marcus, Saks; the DC side has dumpy retail and commercial space. (Rodman's though is a great, great store.)

    Many of the same activists oppose the condominium project, at 5220 Wisconsin Ave., between Harrison and Jenifer streets. Opponents, such as Coalition to Stop Tenleytown Overdevelopment and the Friendship Neighborhood Association, say too high, too dense. Perhaps they mean too fancy, shamancy.

    "They're coming in to rape our [expletive] neighborhood," Carolyn Sherman, an advisory neighborhood commissioner and an opponent, said of developers in the WaPo.

    Whatever. Fighting development along the avenue is bad for D.C. (think: tax base), bad for the environment (sprawl adds to global warming etc.) and holds the neighborhood back. We have to wonder if this is a case where an extreme minority is skewing the debate.

    Let Ackridge, which has worked with the community, to move forward.

    May 11, 2007

    Progress on the Waterfront in Georgetown

    Soon the condo dwellers along K St., the shoppers along M St. and the homeowners along P St. will be able to walk down to a new park along the Georgetown waterfont.

    WTOP reports progress on construction on the park that will feature an interactive fountain and steps down the water.

    As we have said before, it is a shame there is no retail component to this. Of couse, we hare not suggesting a Costco, but a stand where they sell ice cream sandwiches or hot cocoa would be nic.e

    But no playground, dog run, basketball court or anything that will make the park an active site. A glass half full is better than an empty one, but the redevelopment could be so much more.

    Jr. High Picked for Temp Eastern Market

    Right across the street from the market itself, says the WaPo.

    May 10, 2007

    Believe It Or Not: The DC Condo Market Is Healthy

    Prices for condos and co-ops in DC have been nudging up this year. We will say it again: prices for condos in DC – not Rockthesda or 703 – are up. The median sales price is $350k, up 2.3 percent since last month.

    Sales are up too. In April, there were 395 contracts for condos in DC. That’s an increase of 11.5 percent over the same period last year.

    Want more: Inventory is down by 6.3 percent to 1,352 units. Adding to this trend, the number of new units on the market is down 9 percent, with only 640 new units on the market.

    Bottom Line: It seems neither buyers, nor sellers, have an advantage, though the balance is tipping toward sellers. See last month's numbers.

    source: Greater Capital Area of Realtors

    Mixed Bag for Market for DC Houses

    Prices for Single-Family homes in DC have pretty flat over the past 12 months. The median price in April was 505k, up 1.3 percent from a month ago.

    But sales are down and inventory is growing. In April there were 362 sales, down 14%, over the same period last year. And total market inventory grew to 1334, up 9.25% from the year ago period.

    Bottom line: Prices are hold their own so sellers should be pleased, but there are warning signs that should give buyers some hope for better days ahead. See March numbers.

    Greater Capital Area of Realtors


    Almost gone. Metro received an unsolicited offer for property in Shaw, so it issued an RFP. We not sure if this is related to the proposed Broadcast One center.

    The three parcels are situated two blocks northwest of the Shaw Metro station on the south side of Florida Avenue, NW btwn 7th and 9 streets. The largest is parcel three, which contains about 16K square feet and has 124 feet of frontage on Florida Avenue, NW and 177 feet of frontage on 8 Street, NW.

    In the RFP Metro notes "This area is considered one of the most attractive real estate markets in the Washington metropolitan area." One has to wonder why then did Metro wait for an unsolicited offer to solicit bids. Metro has a revenue shortfall and developing the site would boost ridership.

    The deadline for making a proposal is May 31.

    May 9, 2007

    Hands Off: No Bright Ideas for the Mall

    The Smithsonian Institution has accelerated its search for a public or private partner to redevelop its landmark Arts and Industries Building, the WaPo reports.

    Smithsonian officials pledged that any partnership would "be consistent with the mission of the Institution." That means, according to one person in the congressional briefing, "no hotel, no bed-and-breakfast, no Gap, but something compatible with the rest of the Smithsonian."

    So much for mixed-use development. What about an elaborate food court devoted to American culinary arts? Or residences for artists? Nope...only the staid and boring may apply.

    Georgia Ave. Botox

    No full on face-lift for the aged Ave. WTOP reported that improvements on a short stretch of Georgia Ave. from Fern Place to the DC line are slated to begin in late June.

    Work will include rehabilitation of sidewalks, high visibility pavement marking improvements, upgrade of wheelchair ramps, adding new tree boxes and widening existing tree boxes as necessary, said DDOT.
    Anything to improve Georgia Ave. is worthwhile. Maybe some dollars can be found to do some work in Petworth and Brightwood too. The decades long neglect only discourages investment and contributes to an overall feeling malaise.

    Shocker: DC Retail Market Underserved Says Report

    The whole region remains underserved as the growing population continues to demand more retail services, particularly in DC where there is only 8.1 square feet of retail space per capita (SF/Capita), said the Spring 2007 Retail Outlook from Delta Associates. This compares with the Metro area average of 24.4 SF/Capita and the national average of 20.3 SF/Capita.

    Plus, it's not like there is alot of space sitting empty either. Compared to the national vacancy rate of 7.2%, DC, as well as Loudon and Fairfax Counties, have vacancy rates below 1.0%.

    This is shocking given the number of condos that have been built over the past decade or so. And are still on the drawing board.

    Given the way the DC population grows each day with office workers and tourists, the amount of retail should be relatively high, not relatively low. Part of the problem is the continued misperception of DC has as the home of the poor and unsophisticated. So unture and so hard to change.

    Here is what the WashExam had to say.

    May 8, 2007

    Options Emerging for Temp Eastern Market Space

    DC looking at temporary spaces for displaced Eastern Market vendors, says the WashTimes. Among three suggested replacement locations: the north parking lot of Hine Jr. High School, the plaza at the Eastern Market Metro stop across Pennsylvania Avenue and along Seventh Street Southeast. Sounds like the Hine Jr. High site is the fave.

    MLK Memorial Moving Along

    The Martin Luther King Memorial is one step closer to reality, says the WashExam. The memorial campaign so far has collected $78.5 million, including $10 million from General Motors and $5 million from Tommy Hilfiger.

    The MLK memorial is slated for a four-acre plot on the Tidal Basin, immediately northeast of the Lincoln Memorial, southwest of the Jefferson Memorial and adjacent to the FDR Memorial. The design features a crescent-shaped stone wall inscribed with excerpts from King’s speeches and the “Stone of Hope,” a 30-foot likeness of the legendary Baptist preacher.

    May 7, 2007

    14th St. Steals Universal Gear From 17th St.

    Men's clothing store universal gear is moving to larger digs on 14th St, says the WashTimes. The new, 5,000-square-foot store, at 1529 14th St. NW in the Matrix Condominiums (below) building, is nearly twice as large as the existing shop.

    Owner David Franco said he is excited to move to 14th St., which he calls the "future of retail" in DC. "We feel very strongly about 14th Street as an up-and-coming vibrant retail area," Mr. Franco said. "We've watched it grow for many years -- the past decade."

    Two Parks Seed Hope for the Future

    The National Capitol Planning Commission gave a preliminary thumbs up for the estimated $5 million park in the old convention center site, reports the WashExam.

    A triangular “bow-tie” section bounded by NY Ave., I, 10th and 11th streets, called for two fountains, fixed and moveable benches, a reading grove, and a variety of trees. It will be set up for lunchtime concerts and other events, and fit up to 1,000 people.

    “We think it’ll be a very good gathering place, something that’s very needed downtown,” said Konrad Schlater, project manager in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. “This basically gives us the green light to move forward with the basic concept.”

    Also JBG is donating $2.5 million for Washington Canal Park, reports the WashBiz. The contribution is required by a D.C. Office of Zoning order establishing the planned unit development for the new Transportation Department headquarters.

    Washington Canal Park, at the corner of Second and M streets, directly across from the new DOT headquarters, will be the first public park built as part of the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative through a funding arrangement that includes the federal government and private developers.

    May 6, 2007

    What Height Limit?

    How does the DC height limit have any meaning if there are 30 story buildings Rosslyn? These buildings will be visible from the Mall, G-town, the Capitol steps.

    Sounds like Arlington thinks the DC height limit is backed by a bunch of chumps. "It will become Rosslyn's main attraction," said Jim Pebley, an Arlington planning commissioner told the WaPo. "It will beat anything else in the capital, including the Washington monument. It will be where you take your folks when they come to visit."

    May 5, 2007

    Insurance Could Cover Cost of G-Town Library Repair

    The Georgetown Library fire was caused by contractors doing renovations, according to the District fire chief. The contractor had a general liability insurance policy for $2 million, and there was an additional indemnification clause that protects the District from any loss, says WTOP.
    A spokesperson for the Office of Contracts and Procurement, which oversaw the contract, says Dynamic Corp. carried a bond that should cover all the costs to rebuild the library.

    JFK Slept Here

    And the lucky lady was .... No the DC Bubble is not going to stoop. The point is that the Dorchester Apt. at 16th and Euclid Sts. was once home to young naval ensign John F. Kennedy, who lived in Apartment 502 in the early 1940s, reports the WaPo.

    The gem is of a building is over by Meridian Hill Park.

    by Kyle Walton