Have you seen City Center

So Tuesday I was lucky enough to take a virtual tour of City Center, the gigantic development in downtown DC. Supposedly it is the second largest urban development in the US after the World Trade Center site.

There are 6 current buildings, 2 office buildings, 2 rental buildings and 2 condos. We were touring the condo building which is is very premium. The next 2 phases include a 5 star hotel and another office building at the 9th / NY Ave corner.  The good news is that I street will be restored and extended from 9th street to the corner of 11th Street. The final block between 11th and 12th south of New York will be a park which shoudl maintain some of the light.

The building we saw was the Condo development, 2 buildings with different condo boards but common facilities. That could be a sticky issue or a great boon depending on who gets elected.

If you are a very neat person and have the money to spend. These are for you. One person said it’s like living in a hotel which it does seem like. Everything has premium fixtures. The closets and kitchen cabinets are custom built in Italy. If you want to live an urban sophisticate lifestyle, this is for you.


DC in Surplus but guess how – ugh!

Mayor Gray announced that DC will have a $400 million dollar surplus for 2012. Unfortunately most of the additional money comes from the $85 million in traffic tickets the new speed cameras have generated……

A bill for DC statehood has been introduced in the Senate sponsored by 4 Democratic Senators although it is mostly symbolic. How many states does DC have to outnumber in order to receive representation? We already outnumber 2, Wyoming & Vermont and if the population continues to pre 1960 status (800k) we could outnumber 2 more (Alaska, North Dakota). Taxation without Representation continues…

Under “I’m not sure why?” the Nationals have announced a 5th racing President. William Howard Taft, in a slimmed down version will join the four traditional racers. He is not exactly one of the leading presidents in history so i am not sure why he was chosen over someone else……

It seems Obama’s new Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, will not be biking to work as he used to. In his former role he woudl bike down from his house in MD to get exercise but despite local groups protestations that biking his good for his stress relief and the fitness of his security crew, it looks like he will be clogging up the roads with teh rest of us.

Drawing down Section 8 Housing in Shaw?

So according to EastShawDC, the Lincoln Westmoreland II complex on 8th Street between R & S Streets has announced that they will no longer be Section 8 housing. What does this mean?

Section 8 is a government program that subsidizes housing for those making less than 50% of the median income for an area. i.e. low income housing The complex offering 1, 2, & 3 bedroom apartments has been a good option for young families wanting to stay in the neighborhood but can’t afford a townhouse. As rental units, the owner leases and maintains the units and receives a payment coupon from the resident along with their rent which the owner redeems from the DC government.

  1. Current residents will stay as long as they want (and continue to pay their rent).
  2. As new units become available, they can be rented out at market rates.
  3. The owner has the option to redevelop the buildings if and when proper payment and consideration is given to current residents.

Lincoln Westmoreland developments One and Two (owned by 2 different companies) have been at the center of many of the crimes in the area. Conversion of the properties to market rate will increase the likelihood that the owners will invest more in the complex and hopefully clean up some of the more troublesome elements.

As EastShawDC points out, this was already occurred down at the Washington on 7th Street which has resulted in its renovation. If the trend continues, we may lose some of our low income residents but those that remain will have nicer places to live.





No bids for a prime property in Georgetown?

For those who have driven / biked / run through Rock Creek park, you can hardly miss the large concrete building at the head of the C&O Canal on the way into Georgetown. The building is a power plant the GAO has owned as a backup generator for their office buildings downtown. So the building has lain fallow for several decades as power upplies to the capitol has improved and more sophisticated ways of generating power evolved.

Now the GAO has decided to repurpose the building and is offering it for sale. The prime spot is a big draw to developer and expected to draw a big price. Except it isn’t.

Evidently there are currently no bids for the building. Not because it is not attractive as profitable but because getting the permits to repurpose the building will be near impossible. City organizations and community groups have made it clear that the building may not be taken down. The not attractive structure must be maintained and no new windows can be cut out of the existing structure.

I would love it if the building could be taken down but failing that, can we allow developers enough to make it into a great building. If you have $500 and want a fixer upper check out the online bidding with the GAO.

Congrats Chix!

Our 11th Street neighbor, Chix, has just opened up its first downtown location! As businesses continue to flock to  our neighborhood, a new Martial Arts gym has opened up at the corner of 14th & Florida. Cork is celebrating 5 years on 14th Street. As one of th initial investors in the area, I am grateful to them for  sticking it out through the recession and wish them more success.

Congrats to Cafe Bohem on its great write up in Borderstan.

New gossip: The building across from TOWN on the northwest corner of Florida and 8th Street is being renovated into a bar. It’s a good time to do it before the developments across the street can object.

Along those lines, DC is one of the most expensive rental areas in the country.

Check out the open flames coming from this fire on T between 15-16th Streets.

A great way to invest in your neighborhood….

This is a fascinating new idea. Fundrise, a group that looks for investors looking to put money into buildings in our neighborhood.

The developer (WestMill Capital Partners) is looking for funding from in and around the area for a building they want to develop. I think this is a great way for developer to avoid bank restrictions, keep renovating buildings and provide a financial and small business return to the community.

Currently the offering is oversubscribed by 95% which says a lot for this strategy of soliciting money for investment. It seems a bit labor intensive but if they can do it more often the costs will come down and procedures will be come easier. Of course there is risk in any investment and while the numbers seem good there is no guarantee that there will be a return. If you have $1000 to invest it might be worth it.