Behind The Deal: Great Gulf Expands Into Washington, DC
Great Gulf is expanding into Washington, DC, with the launch of a mixed-use project—developed in partnership with Edens—in the uber-hip Union Market district. President Christopher Wein tells us more.
Christopher, seen at left with Great Gulf SVP Alan Vihant, tells us the project—an 11-storey tower with 144 condo units and 10,700 SF of ground-level retail—fits squarely with his company’s new strategic focus: “We want to get heavily involved in the US multifamily market.” The firm's been actively pursuing opportunities south of the border, and has multifamily projects in Dallas, Atlanta and Florida. But DC has long been a key target. “Demographically, we see it is a very strong area for growth,” with a robust economy, positive migration and a "dynamic, well-educated young population.”
Great Gulf’s project will be the first condo built in burgeoning Union Market, the conversion of a historic food terminal into an 8M SF retail-residential-entertainment district (another company is developing a purpose-built rental tower there). Spearheaded by Edens, an urban retail REIT, the 40-acre multi-phase project is in the heart of DC, which Christopher says is “right where we wanted to be” in the US capital for its inaugural development. “We love the energy we’re witnessing in Washington generally and in Union Market specifically.”
An 11-storey building is small-scale for Great Gulf, known for its tall towers, namely 79-storey One Bloor (seen nearing completion above). "But in Washington you can’t be taller than the US Capitol dome," Christopher notes. "Everything is restricted to 10 or 11 storeys.” Great Gulf's building will be adjacent to Masseria, one of DC’s finest dining spots (seen below). And Christopher says the condo's commercial space could be occupied by a restaurant as well, or a boutique retailer that fits with the area's Soho / Queen West vibe. “We want the space to feel funky and warehouse-y."
Great Gulf hopes this will be the first of several condo buildings it develops for Edens at Union Market. “That’s our MO when we go into a new market,” Christopher says. “We don’t just want to do one-off buildings and leave. We want to establish ourselves.” There'll be 500k SF of residential at Union Market at build-out. And there's potential for the firm to do a dozen or more buildings in the Washington area over the next decade, says Christopher, including taller projects in bedroom communities like Tysons. “We see a lot of opportunity in DC."
Meanwhile, back home, Great Gulf’s got a packed slate. Occupancy at One Bloor is scheduled to begin in November, and the podium is being readied for Nordstrom Rack's arrival. Work on Monde is ahead of schedule, and construction will soon start on Yonge + Rich. Later this summer, Great Gulf launches sales for 8 Cumberland, a 52-storey tower with a block of heritage buildings on Yonge Street (rendered above). Paired with the preserved structures at Plaza Corp / Bazis Inc’s 1 Yorkville, “it’ll be one of the nicest heritage blocks in the city,” says Christopher.