Buzzard Point Is What's Next
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The Wharf is a year away from opening and blowing everyone's minds, NoMa and the Capitol Riverfront are littered with cranes of their own, and a handful of developers are making sure Northeast DC will be a location to envy in the not-too-distant future. So what's coming after that? Some of the smartest money in DC is betting on Buzzard Point.
You wouldn't know that by looking at it. Most of Buzzard Point—the peninsula that juts out where the Anacostia River and Washington Channel split in Southwest—looks like a giant, industrial construction site. That's because work is beginning on the future DC United stadium, the piper drawing the developers to the area.
"If you look back over time, many developments didn't seem like the most logical when they first started, but they do now," Douglas Development Corp principal Norman Jemal tells Bisnow. "I think this is one of those cases."
The neighborhood isn't quite walkable to Metro, and there's no real draw to speak of right now, except for the big one: privately owned, undeveloped land on the water. That's good enough for Norman and other developers in the area.
The stadium, the land for which DC acquired from Akridge via eminent domain, is set to open in 2018, and a handful of developers are trying to time their upcoming projects to deliver around the same time.
The first project planned in the area comes from Capital City Real Estate, which bought a half-acre lot along V Street SW for less than $10M. The land is undeveloped and basically along the water, abutting Buzzard Point Park. CapCity is planning about 100 condos over retail.
"Private waterfront land is incredibly, incredibly limited in this area,” Capital City director of acquisitions Jerry Zayets told Bisnow in January. Despite likely being the first to market in the neighborhood, CapCity's low acquisition price means they believe the fundamentals work for the project to begin construction next year.
Douglas Development owns this building, at Half and T streets, that's still partially occupied by an office user. That didn't stop one of DC's most prolific developers from filing plans to tear out part of the building that faces the water, add glass and turn it into a residential-over-retail project.
The building is being designed by Antunovich Associates—the same architects working with Douglas on its award-winning Uline Arena project—and will have around 462 units, 25k SF of retail and 324 parking spots. Considering Douglas bought the development 11 years ago and just filed plans last month, Douglas' activity is a good indicator that some developers feel the time is now for Buzzard Point.
An under-the-radar developer, Redbrick LMD, is also quietly making moves. The Washington Business Journal reports the developer has put the Transpoint Building overlooking the water (above) under contract, with plans to redevelop the 609k SF former Coast Guard offices into a mixed-use project.
Although the short-term development gets more buzz, what comes next may be even more transformative. Akridge still owns a big plot of land at Buzzard Point, and has signs up advertising a 2.7M SF mixed-use development.
Next to Douglas' project, MRP Realty recently placed a piece of land under contract currently home to the Ziegfield-Secrets nightclub you see above. MRP's John Begert, leading the project, says the acquisition was a long-term play, but he loves the market.
"We’re just excited to have something down there," John told Bisnow after MRP closed on the property at Half and S streets SW. "Half Street is going to be the big north-south spine road, with retail and circulation as the Buzzard Point concept plan is laid out currently. It’s a good corner; it’s great proximity to the stadium."
Right now, Half Street is mostly gravel. Bisnow took its tour of Buzzard Point yesterday morning, and we were the only non-construction, non-police souls to be found outside. It's hard to see the area's future.
But when some of DC's biggest players, like Douglas, MRP and Akridge, are all buying in—Guy Steuart also owns a plot of land in the area—the neighborhood's future sure seems bright. Maybe someday soon its name will be changed to reflect it.