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Northeast D.C. Site Planned For 1,500 Units Sells To New Developer

A 13-acre property that is approved to add more than 1,000 residential units next to a new D.C. agency headquarters has sold to a new development team. 

A rendering of the Northeast Heights development, seen from Minnesota Avenue NE.

Standard Real Estate Investments acquired two shopping centers at the intersection of Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road NE, where it plans to move forward with a 1,500-unit project with 120K SF of retail, the buyer announced Monday. 

The firm didn't disclose the sale price, and it hasn't yet been posted to the D.C. Recorder of Deeds. Standard said the overall cost for the project, branded Northeast Heights, will total $650M.

It is partnering with National Housing Trust, which plans to build 110 of the project's roughly 300 affordable housing units. And it secured financing from the Black Economic Development Fund, an entity managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corp. and Forbright Bank. 

Cedar Realty Trust, the seller in the deal, received entitlements for the Northeast Heights development and has begun construction on an office building as its first phase. The 257K SF office project, which wasn't included in the sale, is fully leased by D.C.'s Department of General Services.

The D.C. government announced the plans in 2020 to move DGS from the Reeves Center to the Northeast Heights project as part of Mayor Muriel Bowser's initiative to spur more investment in the historically underserved neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River. In May 2021, Cedar secured a joint venture partnership with Goldman Sachs Urban Investments and a $105M construction loan from JPMorgan to move forward with the office phase. 

The office project and the multifamily and retail component that Standard is now taking over are both being built on the sites of the Senator Square and East River Park shopping centers, near the Minnesota Avenue Metro station. 

The deal is Standard's second acquisition of an east-of-the-river development site this year. In January, it bought a seven-property assemblage near the Congress Heights Metro station where it plans to build 240K SF of offices and 179 affordable housing units in partnership with NHT and Trammell Crow

"These projects speak not only to our business philosophy of creating value in underinvested communities by importing new economic activity, but our strong commitment to the D.C. region over the long term," Standard President Jerome Nichols said in a release. 

Standard is a minority-owned firm, and its financing partner touted the deal as not only creating economic opportunities in underserved neighborhoods but as part of its efforts to increase access to capital for developers of color. 

"The plan aligns with the BEDF’s mission to close the racial wealth gap by increasing capital access for Black-led businesses and developers," Tiffany Durr, senior director of fund investments for the Black Economic Development Fund and LISC Strategic Investments, said in a statement.