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8 Major Projects Planned In D.C.'s Opportunity Zones

Developments in D.C. have already begun to utilize opportunity zone investments, but the money is expected to begin flowing into projects at a faster rate after the federal government released a second set of regulations Wednesday for the program. 

D.C. is the most attractive area for opportunity zone investment on the East Coast, according to a March study from CommercialCafé. The regulations and the program's implications for the D.C. region will be discussed June 26 at Bisnow's Opportunity Zones Summit

From Anacostia to Brentwood to Buzzard Point, many D.C. neighborhoods have large-scale, mixed-use projects already planned that could utilize opportunity zone investment. Bisnow found eight major developments planned in D.C.'s opportunity zones. 

Columbian Quarter

Columbian Quarter Poplar Point Redbrick
A rendering of Redbrick's 2.3M SF Columbian Quarter development on Poplar Point
  • Developer: Redbrick LMD
  • Location: Near the Anacostia Metro station

An 8-acre piece of land on Poplar Point is planned for a 2.3M SF development. The Columbian Quarter project would include five buildings with 1.6M SF of office space, 700 residential units and 52K SF of retail. The developer filed a new zoning application in October, after having its initial approval appealed, that would allow buildings of up to 130 feet tall.

Redbrick LMD founder Tom Skinner said at a Bisnow event in October the company is creating an opportunity fund to take advantage of the project's location in an opportunity zone. The developer is waiting to pre-lease a portion of the office space before breaking ground.

The site was included in D.C.'s Amazon HQ2 submission and it has competed for multiple government agency relocations, but Redbrick has yet to announce any leases. 

RIA

8 Major Projects Planned In D.C.'s Opportunity Zones
An aerial rendering of MidCity's 1,700-unit RIA development

The owner of Northeast D.C.'s Brookland Manor community plans to replace the 373-unit property with a 1,700-unit mixed-use development. MidCity's project, branded as RIA, would include replacement units for the Section 8 housing on the site and feature 181K SF of retail and a public park. 

The developer in July acquired the site of a historic church across the street, where it plans to build 108 apartments. MidCity Executive Vice President Michael Meers said at a Bisnow event in March the developer has set up an opportunity fund for the 108-unit project, and expects the program will also be helpful for the RIA development. The D.C. Council in December approved up to $47M in tax increment financing for the RIA project. 

Bryant Street

MRP Realty Bryant Street
A rendering of MRP's Bryant Street project, currently under construction in an opportunity zone
  • Developer: MRP Realty
  • Location: Near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station

The redevelopment of the Rhode Island Avenue Shopping Center property began earlier this year with the demolition of a large piece of the existing center. MRP Realty, in partnership with FRP Development Corp., plans to build 1,650 units and 250K SF of retail on the site.

The first phase will include 490 units, a nine-screen Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and another 40K SF of retail. 

When it announced FRP as the equity partner in January, MRP highlighted the project's location in an opportunity zone and said it plans to utilize the program's tax benefits by transferring gains from other ventures. 

Parkside

CityInterests Parkside
A rendering of CityInterest's planned 3.1M SF Parkside development
  • Developer: CityInterests (looking to sell)
  • Location: Near the Minnesota Avenue Metro station

Developers looking to buy a large site in a D.C. opportunity zone were presented with an opportunity last month when CityInterests retained Cushman & Wakefield to market Parcel 12 of its Parkside development. The parcel is planned for 1.8M SF of Parkside's 3.1M SF of total mixed-use development. 

Parcel 12 is planned to include four buildings with up to 750K SF of office, plus residential, retail and hotel space. The Parkside development already features hundreds of residential units, three schools and a primary care facility. The Cushman & Wakefield marketing materials highlight the project's location in an opportunity zone as a key selling point. 

St. Elizabeths East

An aerial rendering of the mixed-use town square project Redbrick has planned for St. Elizabeths East
An aerial rendering of the mixed-use town square project Redbrick has planned for St. Elizabeths East
  • Developer: D.C., Redbrick LMD and other partners
  • Location: Near the Congress Heights Metro station

The 180-acre St Elizabeths East campus is now home to a new sports arena, and it will soon welcome a host of additional development. The 4,200-seat arena, where the NBA's Wizards practice, the WNBA's Mystics play home games and other events are held, opened in September. 

In November, the Anacostia Economic Development Corp. and Flaherty & Collins broke ground on the conversion of seven historic buildings into 252 mixed-income apartments. In February, D.C. selected Redbrick LMD to develop a 567K SF town square on the campus with residential, office, hotel and retail, expected to begin construction in August.

The campus has also been picked as the location for a new hospital in partnership with George Washington University Hospital. 

Reunion Square

Reunion Square Anacostia
A rendering of the next building planned at Anacostia's Reunion Square development
  • Developer: Four Points and Curtis Investments
  • Location: Near the Anacostia Metro station

The 1.5M SF Reunion Square project was approved in 2013 for nine buildings with 945K SF of office space, 481K SF of residential and 144K SF of retail. The site along Martin Luther King Ave. SE in Anacostia includes three existing office buildings. 

The next phase of the project is planned to include a 180-room hotel, a 133-unit apartment building and 250K SF of office space. Mayor Muriel Bowser proposed a $61M tax increment financing package for the project in October, but it has yet to pass amid opposition from Ward 8 Council Member Trayon White. 

1900 Half

Douglas Development 1900 Half St. SW
A rendering of Douglas Development's 1900 Half St. SW project on Buzzard Point.

One of the first projects in D.C. to receive opportunity zone investment, Douglas Development's Buzzard Point project closed its financing deal in March. The financing includes opportunity zone equity from PTM Partners, preferred equity from Bethesda-based EB5 Capital and a $100M construction loan from United Bank

Douglas began work on the project in September, funding the early construction itself before securing outside financing. The developer is converting a former U.S. Coast Guard building on Buzzard Point into 453 apartments with 17K SF of retail, expected to deliver in fall 2020. It sits two blocks away from the 20,000-seat Audi Field, where the D.C. United soccer team began playing last year. 

Barry Farm

Barry Farm
The site plan for the Barry Farm development

The former 444-unit Barry Farm public housing community has been tapped for a major redevelopment, but the project remains in limbo. The 34-acre Southeast D.C. site was planned to include 1,400 new units, including replacements for each of the public housing units. 

The project was approved in July 2015, but then a neighborhood group filed an appeal the following month. The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the project's opponents, vacating its approval and sending the development team back to the drawing board. All but three of the households on the site have been demolished and residents have been relocated, so the team must submit another proposal to build new housing on the site. The team has yet to file a new zoning application, but it has indicated it plans to reduce the density and add more green space.