Jair Lynch Predicts New DC Trends
We knew developer Jair Lynch must be a health-conscious guy—for Pete's sake, he was a silver medalist in gymnastics at the 1996 Summer Olympics.
But we saw it first hand when he suggested breakfast at something called the Health Bar and ordered oatmeal and fruit…making us feel just a little guilty craving an omelette. (This newsletter is basically an excuse to eat.) He goes there, around 16th and U, two or three mornings a week. It's a warm but unassuming joint near his office, symbolizing the fact he's physically located in, and has become a major influence in, the newly developing areas of DC.
So we figured who better to spot or predict new trends. Here's what he sees:
- A big potential market for "non-assisted" senior urban living. He quotes a statistic that 48% of the federal work force is within five years of retirement. He thinks a fair portion of them will want to live out their years not in Stafford and Loudoun, or Florida, but in DC. Of course, downtown is not so affordable, so the natural growth areas for this would be neighborhoods like where we're eating.
- The 48% would be replaced by a whole new crop of eco-boomers, more technically savvy, environmentally-conscious, interested in quality of life and saving commute times, keen on being near the bright lights of the city. Here he's doing some testing. Last April he won the rights from NCRC to purchase 3910 Georgia and put in 130 rental units, which he's designing with Frank Schlesinger and Environmental Design Group Architects. The housing would feature low emissions, Energy Star appliances, green building designations, better indoor air quality and light, high efficiency heating and cooling, healthier finishes, recycled material. And it will include 20,000 ft of retail with Results the Gymbecause eco-boomers like that convenience, he says. They'll break ground in first quarter of '08.
- A growing interest in "inter-generational housing," where you'd have a one bedroom flat on first floor for the elders, then a two to three story townhouse above for the kids and grandkids. He's looking for a townhouse development site where he can offer this product. He has been trying it out as rentals in Savannah Heights,SE, via 15 or so of 100 units he did with AHD back in 2004. He's also testing the concept in a development called Woodson Heightsnear the Benning Road Metro station, where he's building 106 units for Ameridream, Inc.
Although he grew up in Shepard Park (his father still lives there and keeps the silver medal in his den), he actually says this vision of a demographic-driven new DC hit him most when he spent the '05-06 academic year on a Loeb fellowship at Harvard, living outside the Square and taking courses at the design and biz schools. He already had both a bachelors of science in civil engineering and bachelors of arts in urban design from Stanford, but at age 35 is glad he stepped back to re-think. He's becoming a developer now with visions, not just business plans. But still grounded in his oatmeal.