After A Decade Of Waiting, Akridge Says Time Is Now For Buzzard Point
Ten years ago, Akridge bought a large chunk of land on Buzzard Point—a peninsula sandwiched between the Southwest Waterfront and the Capitol Riverfront—that would become the under-construction DC United stadium and a planned, seven-acre development, currently referred to as 100 V St.
Now, Akridge is moving forward with some major plans, highlighted by its acquisition of the 609k SF former Coast Guard HQ on Second Street last week.
Akridge SVP Tom Wilbur spoke to Bisnow last week about teaming up again with Western Development—the partners who delivered Gallery Place together—to take a majority stake in the project, which they are dubbing Riverpoint.
“Serious discussions about our involvement came recently," Tom says, "when [Western Development chairman] Herb Miller called Chip Akridge to ask him if Akridge would join him in this development.”
The development team plans to start work immediately, Tom says, with final designs finished by next summer and a hopeful delivery by 2019. The above rendering, released to Bisnow, is a preliminary look at how the building could be transformed.
Redbrick LMD put the vacant building (above in its current form) under contract last year, and has spent the time since bringing in lenders EagleBank and Greenfield Partners and developers like Orr Partners and Jefferson Apartment Group, which will co-develop the multifamily part of the project. Western and Akridge control the majority of the project, but the remaining partners have "significant stakes," Tom says.
When completed, if everything sticks to the plan, there would be roughly 450 residential units, a mix of condos and apartments, plus 80k SF of retail that includes potential floating restaurants. Western Development chairman Herb Miller will be leading development of the retail.
"At Riverpoint, we will create a place that brings people to a unique spot in DC—the confluence of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers," Herb says, "to enjoy great food, listen to music and relax at the water's edge."
The water's edge part is key, Tom says. It now connects Akridge's 100 V St SW parcel to the river, allowing Akridge to create a complete vision of a community.
"The development of 100 V Street had been hindered by the presence of some industrial uses separating it from the Ballpark District," Tom says. "We worked for several years to attract DC United to the neighborhood. That anchored the northern end of our site. The next piece to change the neighborhood would be to connect to the water We always kept an eye on the south piece, the former Coast Guard Building, and that opportunity really came up recently."
Tom, snapped at Akridge's offices in The Homer Building last week, says Riverpoint will have views on all four sides, including water views on three sides, making it nearly unique among properties in DC. As for Buzzard Point's viability—it's not particularly close to the Metro—Tom says DC's recent migration to the edges of the city gives him confidence.
"Buzzard Point is a bit of an edgy place, and it’s going to be a very attractive location as the various developments are delivered," Tom says. "We think this is an area where there are going to be a lot of bicycles, motorcycles and alternate modes of transportation. We’re planning 100 V Street with areas that are kind of porous."
Tom says that parcel—again, just to the north of Riverpoint—will be built with about 1.5M or 1.6M SF of development, despite having the potential for up to 2M SF, to encourage circulation throughout the site. Tom referenced Bisnow's feature on the "woonerf" streetscape and said "that's what we're doing here!" While Riverpoint is expected to open in 2019, the much bigger property "won't be very far behind," Tom says.
While Akridge is among the big developers—like MRP Realty, Douglas Development and Capital City Real Estate—gobbling up development sites and planning big projects on Buzzard Point, it recently has sold, or put on the market, sites in Chantilly and the Capitol Riverfront.
Tom says that's not an indication of Akridge's confidence, or lack thereof, in non-Buzzard Point locales. Rather, it's a matter of timing, with Akridge's financial backers looking for an exit from their funds before development can occur.