SW Waterfront Arrives!
After nine years, one recession, 500 community meetings, three Acts of Congress, and a global search for financing and design cues, PN Hoffman and Madison Marquette are set to break ground tomorrow on The Wharf. By the end of 2017, they're expecting 20 million visitors a year.
Yesterday we snapped PN Hoffman CEO Monty Hoffman in the project trailers at 700 Water St, pointing out elements of the mile-long, $2B, 3.2M SF undertaking (Phase 1, the next four years, will be $1B and 1.8M SF of that). "We wanted a design that doesn't look contrived," Monty says. He and Amer Hammour, Madison's CEO, took trips to Barcelona, Oslo, Helsinki, Cape Town, Barcelona, Sorrento, and the Mideast to get inspiration. (Most of the financing is coming from cashing in frequent flyer miles.)
They're planning 20 restaurants and already talking with food celebs Robert Wiedemeyer, Mike Isabella, Fabio Trabocchi, and Philly's Stephen Starr; Monty reports two-thirds of the restaurant space is already under LOI.
Here's the 278-room, four-star Intercontinental (one of three hotels planned), which Carr family patriarch Oliver Carr will be doing with them—making it a sister of his Willard Hotel, with equity Carr contributing with Hoffman-Madison and construction king Jim Clark. For the first phase, Hoffman-Madison has spent $65M and expects to ante up $25M more, plus it’ll be getting $198M in city TIF pilot bonds for public improvements like sewers and piers, $220M from an investor (that other sources have ID'd as a Canadian pension fund), and $400M in debt. Amer visited China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Mideast, and Europe on the team's successful quest for financing.
Outside the office, we snapped Steve Moore, the former DC Economic Partnership chief now working on leasing, branding, and event planning for Hoffman-Madison. "Grit and glamour" is how Monty defines the Wharf's feel, noting it will include narrow streets among the buildings, cobblestone walks, 10 acres of parks, and a 50' x 450' public pier. His team took notes from NYC's Meatpacking District as well as San Fran's Ferry Building, Seattle's Pike Place, and Boston's Faneuil Hall. The first phase will have 238 condos, 655 apartments, and a concert venue designed by the famed Rockwell Group (which did Hollywood's Kodak-turned-Dolby Theatre) and 9:30 Club music impresario Seth Hurwitz.
If you're driving down Maine Avenue now, you can't miss the bright yellow sign that'll greet visitors at tomorrow's groundbreaking. Monty says the Wharf isn't trying to monopolize waterfront action; it's delighted to complement other exciting and growing nearby spots like Georgetown's coastline, Old Town, The Yards, and National Harbor. (Learning how to share the water is the No. 1 things fish are taught in school.)