Cranes All Over the Corridor
The match is lit on construction for the recently re-master-planned Columbia Town Center, and loads of development across all property types is careening down the Corridor. (They should carpool.) That’s why Bisnow has assembled the following developers for our Future of Annapolis and the B-W Corridor event coming up May 29 at the Loews Annapolis Hotel. Here's a recap of their projects.
The one thing Howard Hughes Corp’s John DeWolf would have changed had he been at the Columbia planning table would be to make the area an employment center from the beginning. Much of the market’s original office space went up near I-95 for the high visibility, and Jim Rouse’s development of the mall on Route 29 to be the center of the community did wonders for Columbia, John says. But the 50-acre Columbia Town Center has been re-imagined via a 13M SF master plan, and John has his own version of that vision. He’d love to see the submarket as an employment center, much like the tech boom in Manhattan’s Midtown South (Google’s NY office was a big driver there). That, John says, would be a home run. (It would also bring a lot more hipsters to the area so the craft brew and mustache wax industries would flourish.)
HHC took the project over from General Growth Properties in 2011 and spent that year figuring it all out—and signing on Whole Foods (under construction above)—John tells us. (It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, as the grocer has since come on board with HHC developments in Houston and Hawaii.) 2012 was the year for getting approvals for Town Center, and construction started in earnest in 2013.
Now, construction can plow forward, and $150M worth is going up, bringing cranes to Columbia for the first time in 20 years (wonder if they still recognize each other). HHC is redoing the Rouse Building (including Whole Foods), Kettler is building the 380-unit Metropolitan (above) and also will JV on 437 units on a parcel just north. About half of that next project also will be smaller to appeal to Millennials, and half will go two-bedroom to serve young families and to test empty nester demand. John predicts that his company eventually will get the courage to do condos in the Town Center, especially because the rezoning allows high-rises up to 20 stories in some parts. The next big step, though, is to clear up domain issues with Howard County and get started on the 5M SF slated to surround Merriweather Post Pavilion.
Residential Revs Up
Bozzuto Homes, meanwhile, is pouring townhomes onto the market in Howard County, says prez Tom Baum. Schools and access to Baltimore, DC, and BWI create steady demand there, and townhouses are the No. 1 seller. Sales are strong at the company’s 396-unit townhouse and condo development off Route 100, Shipley’s Grant, and thus development there continues, he says. And in Greenebaum Enterprises’ Maple Lawn master-planned community, Tom’s group has completed the 144-unit first phase of condos and half of the 40-unit second phase. The rest will come online this year.
In Annapolis, Bozzuto Homes settled the last unit in the Uptown at Murray Hill development (rendered above), one of the only large parcels within City limits, in February. The company had picked up that failed condo development site during the downturn and retooled it to urban infill townhouses and single-family homes that were more in keeping with West Street’s streetscape, Tom says.
How does a shopping center become 102% leased? Greenberg Gibbons president Tom Fitzpatrick (right with CEO Brian Gibbons) isn’t engaging in a schoolyard bragging rights competition. Rather, the company not only filled up the 650k SF of retail at the $275M Waugh Chapel Towne Centre in Crofton (the country's largest shopping center to open in 2013), it expanded the center by 7,000 SF to accommodate DSW’s 17k SF lease in January. Sales at the Wegmans there are off the charts, Tom tells us, and the Regal Cinemas is among the company's top five nationwide.
Expansion is the name of the game at Annapolis Towne Centre, too, where Greenberg Gibbons is adding 24k SF on West Street next to Whole Foods and has leased it to Pier 1, Mission BBQ, BGR (as in burgers), Bark, and Einstein Bros. Bagels. There’s room for another 10k to 15k SF, Tom tells us, but nothing’s planned yet.
At the developer’s Towne Centre at Laurel, Burlington Coat Factory and Party City have opened, and Phase 2 (Harris Teeter, Sports Authority, Regal, and some Main Street-style shopping) will open by October. (It's good to get your feet on the ground before the holiday shopping crowds knock you on your backside.) Tom says the 400k SF center is 82% leased and negotiations are underway that'll soon bring it to 90%. He says Greenberg Gibbons would consider redeveloping other malls as well, given the company’s M.O. is to find Main and Main locations (most malls are right there) and start with the anchor tenants that will make the shopping center a destination for shoppers and other retailers.
Major landowner St. John Properties sees so much leasing momentum that it’s starting new projects in the Corridor as soon as it completes others, the company’s Rick Williamson tells us. (It's a development relay race.) In BWI Technology Park in Anne Arundel County, it’s just completed a 61k SF spec flex building and a 13k SF spec retail building (Toro Bravo Mexican restaurant just signed for some of that space). And at Route 100 Tech Park in Hanover, it’s just wrapped up a 24k SF single-story office and a 10k SF retail building.
Over in Maple Lawn, which is proving the power of master planning, St. John just finished a biggie: a four-story, 135k SF, Class-A office at 8135 Maple Lawn Blvd (above). Rick expects to have a signed lease for some of that space in hand within two weeks. And three St. John buildings will break ground in Annapolis Corporate Park this month: a 29k SF one-story property and a 31k SF one, plus a 63k SF two-story property.