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Behind The Scenes At Capitol Crossing's Construction

One of DC's largest private developments, Capitol Crossing, began going vertical in June. The $1.3B project rising atop I-395 will be among the topics at Bisnow's Major Projects event Sept. 29, where Property Group Partners' Robert Braunohler will discuss the ambitious endeavor. This week, Bisnow got a sneak peek of the construction site to check out its progress. 

Sean Cahill Property Group Partners Billy Maloni Balfour Beatty
Property Group Partners' Sean Cahill and Balfour Beatty's Billy Maloni at Capitol Crossing in 2016.

Property Group SVP of development Sean Cahill sees Capitol Crossing not as one development, but as a combination of several projects that would each be considered major on their own. 

The first building going up behind Sean (on the left next to Balfour Beatty's Billy Maloni) is 200 Massachusetts Ave, a 414k SF office building with ground-floor retail slated to deliver in 2018. Next, developers are embarking on the adjacent 250 Massachusetts Ave, with 559k SF combined office and retail. After that they will build another office building, 200 F St, on the other side of the site, followed by a 180k SF residential building on the plot where Sean and Billy are standing. 

"For the complexity of the project, we’ve come a very long way," Sean says. "All the coordination that takes place has been a challenge, but it's been a great challenge to be able to get where we are right now and actually going vertical."

Capitol Crossing I-395

Building three new city blocks over a major highway posed complex infrastructure and transportation challenges. Before construction could go vertical, Property Group built a deck atop I-395, above, on which it is now constructing 200 Mass Ave.

To do this, it installed support beams, filled them with concrete, laid massive planks on them followed by 14 inches of concrete. This all had to be done without excessive disruption to the major thoroughfare that runs underneath. 

Capitol Crossing

Another infrastructure improvement the developer has undertaken is the Massachusetts Avenue portal, above. This new ramp, expected to open by the end of the year, will provide access to southbound 395 from Mass Ave. Sean says it will improve throughput and reduce vehicle traffic, while also creating better walkability. Those walking by the construction now must traverse a temporary bridge, but soon Massachusetts Avenue pedestrians will have a 25-foot sidewalk

Capitol Crossing parking garage site

Next to where 200 Mass Ave is rising, construction has begun on the development's 1,147 car parking garage, above. 

The developer will accommodate the relocation of the 140-year-old Jewish Historical Society, the small red building on the right, to an expanded location at F and 3rd streets NW, after moving it to a temporary site later this year. Property Group is also facilitating the expansion of the Holy Rosary Church to include a new rectory and annex building. 

Capitol Crossing 200 Massachusetts Ave

Standing on the fourth floor of 200 Mass Ave gives an up-close view of construction workers building the frame for the fifth floor. After the fifth floor, Sean says workers will complete a new floor roughly every 10 days, ultimately reaching to 11 stories. The top few floors will have views of the US Capitol, a perk Property Group is using to attract tenants. He says they are targeting typical DC tenants like law firms and associations, but also have space suitable for startup companies. 

"We’re out in the market and we’re being extremely ambitious and aggressive with tenants," Sean says. "We’re in touch with some and we’re extremely fortunate to be where we are, to be in the location we have, and I think the site will start to speak to the tenants themselves."

Capitol Crossing

Looking south from 200 Mass Ave shows the remainder of the seven-acre site, where office buildings at 200 F St and 201 F St are expected to deliver in 2020, followed by the residential building at 600 2nd St, expected to deliver a year after that. While Georgetown Law's time ran out on its exclusive rights to the residential portion, Sean says the university continues to look at the site and Property Group still plans to build the 150-unit residential building, a third of which will be affordable housing. 

Property Group had hoped to bring DC's first Eataly as a ground-floor retail tenant, but Sean says no agreements have been signed yet.

"We have proposals out to retailers and Eataly is one of them," Sean says. "They just opened up their second installation and they opened that late. They are very systematic and they’re very progressive in how they do retail, but they don’t bite off more than they can chew. We’re still speaking with them and we’ll see what happens."