Here's What The Potomac Yard Area Will Look Like After The New Metro Station Opens
The construction of a Metro station at Potomac Yard in Alexandria took a big step forward this week as the FAA and National Park Service approved the project. With so much of the DC area's development taking place around Metro stations, the addition of a new station becomes an obvious location to add density and build walkable urban communities, and some of the region's biggest developers are already working on it.
Alexandria economic development partnership CEO Stephanie Landrum sees these approvals as a major milestone that allows the city to move from preliminary design to start committing significant resources to the project.
"This is an indicator to those thinking of investing and building in Potomac Yard that there’s no turning back," Stephanie tells Bisnow. "The Metro is coming, so it's time to start putting shovels in the ground to make sure there are buildings when the Metro comes."
The developers who control the land around the station are certainly taking Stephanie's advice.
The JBG Cos has plans for 7.5M SF of development at Potomac Yard North. It expects to deliver 1.2M SF, including 732 residential units, 290k SF of retail, and either a 115k SF office building or a 120-room hotel.
Just south of that project, JBG is teaming up with MRP Realty on the 2M SF Potomac Yard Town Center development, rendered above. The JV plans to deliver the next wave of the project in time for the Metro's opening in 2020.
Part of the JV's next wave of deliveries includes the two office sites it sold to Alexandria companies looking to move to Potomac Yard, both of which will keep MRP on to develop the buildings. The Institute for Defense Analysis bought a two-acre site to build a 370k SF HQ and the National Industries for the Blind will build a 100k SF building for its HQ, which will have 10k SF of ground-floor retail.
"Both NIB and IDA would not have picked out Potomac Yard town center without knowing Metro would be coming," MRP founding principal Fred Rothmeijer tells Bisnow. "It's absolutely vital."
Fred says the JV is in talks with another company interested in moving its HQ to Potomac Yard, and he hopes it can close that deal and move forward with another office building to coincide with Metro's opening. He says the developers have not ruled out building additional office components on spec, but will wait until the Metro's construction begins to see if the office market continues its improvement.
"It will be a Metro-served town center," Fred says. "There is a tremendous opportunity to serve the market that we see on the residential and office side. Everybody wants walkability to the Metro and amenities."
JBG and MRP have already delivered two multifamily buildings at Potomac Yard. In March, the JV sold a 323-unit apartment complex, which delivered in 2014, to AvalonBay, which will brand it as Avalon Potomac Yard. It also delivered the 253-unit Notch 8 with a street-level Giant as the retail anchor.
Bozzuto and Wood Partners have also each delivered multifamily projects on the southern part of Potomac Yard, totaling 432 units. Stephanie says the housing has all experienced solid absorption and has begun to create a vibrant community that will support all the development the area has in the pipeline.
"The demographics of people moving into Potomac Yard are younger," Stephanie says. "They’re professionals with disposable income who are choosing a city setting. They have fewer cars, they like transit. That has been great because it's building up the customer base for the commercial portion of Potomac Yard, those people are clamoring for restaurants and retail."
The first phase, which is expected to deliver about a year before the Metro, will include 400 apartments, 130 condos, a 130k SF office building, a 190-key hotel and 132k SF of retail. The office building's rendering, above, is newly released to Bisnow and shows a pedestrian plaza for the workers.
StonebridgeCarras principal Doug Firstenberg says his firm would have moved forward without Metro coming because the recent addition of rapid bus transit that connected Potomac Yard with Crystal City made it accessible enough for mixed-use development to be viable. But taking into account all the density his company and JBG and MRP plan to add to Potomac Yard makes the Metro station a critical component.
"For all that development to happen, the Metro is essential," Doug says. "For us what we’re doing now, it's a great add, but it's not a linchpin to our development. That said, anybody who says they don’t want a Metro .35 miles from their development would be crazy."
As part of the first phase of development, StonebridgeCarras will repurpose a portion of an existing self-storage building into a 10k SF ground-level market, rendered above. Doug expects it to be used for events and farmers markets and says it will help activate the plaza in the heart of the project.
Doug says Oakville Triangle will complement, rather than compete with, JBG and MRP's Potomac Yard developments.
"Long term, there's a real opportunity for this area just to absorb all of this development," Doug says. "We’re going to connect the neighboring communities and it's going to be a tremendous live/work/play area. It works in the short term, and when Metro is up and matured, it’ll continue to spur development. It will be a spectacular area."
Doug, Fred and Stephanie will all be on hand to discuss Potomac Yard at Bisnow's State of Arlington County and Alexandria event on Dec. 7.