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November 6, 2007



Welcome to great new sponsor US General Contracting. The rapidly growing firm specializes in high end tenant design/build, lobby renovations and interior construction. Recent contracts include Archstone-Smith projects in Crystal City and DC.

That’s what developer Jim Abdo says about the 20 blocks on H Street going east from North Capitol. The pioneer of 14th Street says people are always complaining to him that they missed the boat there. He says you should circle the date on your calendar five years from today, and if you see H Street then you will be blown away. Our own Elliott spent the day recently with the hyper-energetic Abdo and snapped these pics.

This is Jim in front of the 44 luxury condos of his Landmark Lofts (going on sale later this month), and behind them the towers of Senate Square (which will become rentals at the same time).  Jim says H Street has the same late 1800’s historic fabric as 14th Street, and a similar arts district; but even better Metro access, a trolley coming into operation in the next couple years, and close proximity to one of the great transportation hubs of the east coast (Union Station). He says DDOT’s "Great Streets" program has earmarked $30M for new benches, curbs, lighting and the like, similar to the transformation of 8th Street Barracks Row

Jim bought the whole square block where those buildings are for $26M three and a half years ago, took it through the PUD process, and shifted density to create the two 110 foot tall towers with 430 units.  Behind the chain link fence here, Stuart Properties is planning a big grocery store and 230 luxury rentals.  Across the street Louis Dreyfus is finishing the final phase of 1.3m SF IM Pei-designed Station Place (new home of the SEC) and also planning other buildings. 

This is Leonard Howell, a tenant rep from GVA Advantis who bought a two bedroom brownstone about a year ago on Florida Avenue, and took us on a walk a couple Saturdays back. Here he points to the famous Atlas Theater, reminiscent of Studio Theater on 14th. He says his wife takes yoga lessons nearby, and he likes to get a cappuccino and grilled cheese brunch at the Sidamo Café.    

When Jim says his buildings are unique, he’s not kidding.  This is the 140 year old former convent he bought from the Children’s Museum.  The ceiling in this picture (being restored) was in a chapel and is being kept in this $2 million+ loft. It's domed and 30 feet high.

Jim with team members Mark Turner and Ken Bice.  Elliott reports that as they walked through all of his projects (also including Wooster and Mercer in Clarendon), Jim knew every single worker by  first name. Although sales have slowed a bit, he is not worried. He stresses that all of his buildings are unique. He doesn't mind being a pioneer in up and coming neighborhoods—in fact, he loves it.

This doesn’t exactly relate to the narrative above, but at one point Jim picked up Douglas Jemal and went to see Jim’s renovation of a 1924 Woodland Drive manse, purchased from the Nigerian government, that he’s restored to 8000 SF of luxury and put on the market for $8.5 million.  Just in case you don’t want to live on H Street.

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