Trammell Crow Begins Work On 9-Story Brookland Multifamily Project
A new, nine-story multifamily development just got started in Brookland, but some residents of the Northeast D.C. neighborhood are already voicing opposition.
A Trammell Crow subsidiary received permits this month to raze a two-story brick building on the site at 2607 Reed St. NE, and demolition work was underway as of Wednesday morning.
An affiliate of Trammell Crow's High Street Residential this week received a $73M loan for the project from Santander Bank, property records show. The plans call for a residential building of up to 10 stories, according to a notice posted on a fence surrounding the site.
A nearby resident sent an email to a neighborhood listserv Tuesday saying the developer is planning to build nine stories plus a penthouse with 353 total units. A CBG Building Co. worker on-site confirmed those plans to Bisnow.
Trammell Crow Senior Vice President Rich McPhillips said the team plans to discuss the project with the community and answer neighbors' questions at next month's Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting. He declined to comment further.
The developer bought the site for $12M in June 2018 from Adams Investment Group. It was previously occupied by a used car dealership. The site is zoned MU-6, allowing the developer to build up to 90 feet without needing to apply for additional entitlements.
The property fronts Reed Street NE, just off Rhode Island Avenue and roughly a quarter-mile from the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station. On the opposite side of Reed Street, Douglas Development in 2017 completed the 296-unit Brookland Press project. The project, which redeveloped one existing building and constructed a new adjacent building, reached six stories tall.
Brian Stevens, a nearby resident and former vice president of the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association, is leading a group called the 10th and Evarts St. NE Neighborhood Group that opposes the project. He said he has met with the developer's attorney, Holland & Knight's Chip Glasgow, and then Stevens sent the letter to the neighborhood email list on the group's behalf detailing its opposition to the project. Glasgow declined to comment.
Stevens' letter highlighted several potential negative effects, including that the project would block sunlight, increase traffic and competition for parking, decrease property values, create noise during construction and ruin the "historic neighborhood character."
The letter encouraged those opposed to the project to sign a petition to "show your support for blocking this monstrous development and keep profit-hungry developers from destroying our neighborhood."
Not all neighborhood residents oppose the project. Brookland homeowner Sean Andrews replied in the neighborhood email thread that he would add his voice in support of more housing. Andrews told Bisnow he thought Stevens' concerns were unfounded.
"D.C. is already an expensive enough city to live in, and our housing prices are going up," Andrews said. "All these artificial zoning limits do is drive up housing prices for existing homeowners, which doesn't help with our shortage. The whole neighborhood needs more units, and we've got so much zoned at certain levels that are arbitrary."
Stevens tells Bisnow he doesn't oppose all development and likes the Brookland Press building, but he thinks Trammell Crow's plans to reach at least nine stories go too far.
"Brookland Press was great," Stevens said. "Everyone is for getting rid of the auto shop, just stay within the lane and do 50 feet ... five stories is one thing, there's nothing in the neighborhood that's nine."
Stevens said he is also frustrated that Trammell Crow applied for its building permits before meeting with the community. He said he is in the process of retaining an attorney. He said the legal avenue he aims to pursue to halt the project centers around a deal that combined the Reed Street site with an adjacent property that fronts Rhode Island Avenue.
The letter raised concerns about a "backdoor deal" that Stevens says Trammell Crow made to merge the property with a Douglas Development-owned site at 920 Rhode Island Ave. NE, allowing it to achieve the density it sought. The two properties were consolidated into a single record lot in May 2017, prior to Trammell Crow acquiring the site, publicly available deed records show.
The 2017 deed record says the lots will remain under separate ownership and that the building on the 2607 Reed site is planned to be razed for a redevelopment. It said the consolidated lot has zoning that allows a maximum height of 90 feet.
The Trammell Crow-owned site fronting Reed Street has a lot area of 49K SF, and the Douglas site with Rhode Island Avenue frontage has a lot area of 60K SF. Douglas principal Norman Jemal declined to comment.
The Douglas-owned site includes the D.C.-run Virginia Williams Resource Center and a Budget Truck Rental lot behind that building. No construction activity was occurring on the Douglas site as of Wednesday morning and no building permits have been issued for the property this year.
The Brookland area has seen multiple battles over major developments in recent years. Menkiti Group's planned 220-unit apartment building at 901 Monroe St. NE was appealed three times, had its approval vacated by the court and remains in limbo. MidCity's 1,700-unit RIA project was appealed last year and has yet to move forward.
MRP Realty's 1,500-unit Bryant Street project — on the other side of the Metro station from Trammell Crow's — was appealed in January 2017. The developer then pivoted to build within the site's existing zoning, allowing it to move forward. MRP broke ground last month.