EXCLUSIVE: DC United In Talks To Develop $200M Mixed-Use Project By Audi Field
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The soccer team is in advanced discussions with at least four top developers to build a mixed-use project on two parcels directly to the east of its new 20,000-seat stadium.
The site could support about 600K SF of development. The 1.6-acre Parcel B sits along Half Street SW between R and S streets and is occupied by a parking lot and green space. Directly to the south, Parcel C has about 10K SF of land area. The property is part of the land D.C. United leased from the District to build the stadium, and the club is working with MAC Realty Advisors to find a development partner for the site.
PN Hoffman is one of the developers behind the massive waterfront mixed-use project The Wharf, which sits about 1 mile from the site. Hines has developed multiple projects in the area, including CityCenterDC. Toll Brothers is a large multifamily developer who has multiple projects around D.C.'s NoMa neighborhood. Baltimore-based Cordish has developed large stadium-adjacent entertainment projects in Philadelphia and Arlington, Texas, and it has multiple casinos including the Live! Casino & Hotel in Maryland. Each developer declined or did not respond to requests for comment.
D.C. United Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs Sam Porter confirmed the organization is in late-stage discussions with developers and general contractors for the site, but declined to comment on which companies were involved. Porter said the project would consist of a mix of uses, would look to maximize the allowable density on the site and could cost around $200M.
The project would sit across the street from the 15K SF of retail D.C. United built as part of the stadium project, though that space does not yet have tenants. Porter said the Parcel B and C project would include ground-floor retail to complement those spaces, and the development partner could help program the existing retail to create a cohesive corridor.
"As a soccer club, we want something that's going to enhance our fans' experience and make the match-day experience even better," Porter said. "If there are food and beverage options and other entertainment options in and around the stadium that add to that experience and make it a fun place to be with more activities to do, we think that's positive for our fans."
The property and the surrounding Buzzard Point area are part of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District, which has worked to brand the area and encourage development. Capitol Riverfront BID President Michael Stevens said he thinks a variety of uses could be successful on the site and benefit the neighborhood.
"I think ultimately it could be a hospitality use, they could have a hotel there that could serve Nationals fans, D.C. United fans and Fort McNair," Stevens said. "The team may want to have offices so there could be a limited office component, and we're hopeful they would have ground-floor retail. As that sub-area of the neighborhood gains popularity, it will become a good residential site as well."
Several developments have been moving forward on Buzzard Point since Audi Field's opening, including the redevelopment of two former Coast Guard buildings into mixed-use projects that will total over 900 multifamily units and at least 80K SF of retail.
About one block north of D.C. United's Parcel B site, Donohoe Hospitality is preparing to break ground this summer on a 154-room Cambria Hotel & Suites. Donohoe Senior Vice President Evan Weisman said he thinks multifamily with retail would make the most sense for the D.C. United site. Another hotel could potentially compete with Donohoe's project, he said, depending on the style.
"Cambria is a select-service hotel, so if somebody did another select-service, it would be competition," Weisman said. "But if someone did an all-suites hotel, it would be complementary."
D.C. United plans to pursue whichever uses make the most sense for the market, and Porter said it is looking to move forward as quickly as possible. D.C. United is also developing a new 5,000-seat stadium and 40K SF training facility in Leesburg for its second-division team, Loudoun United. Porter said the soccer club is glad to be contributing to the growth of the two areas.
"Buzzard Point is very much a neighborhood on the rise that's growing every single day. When you look around, there's construction going on and things being planned and there's a vibrancy to it," Porter said. "There's a vibrancy to it and you can tell it's going to be one of the marquee areas in the city."