Two gateway luxury apartment projects in College Park and Silver Spring are moving forward, thanks to investments from new developers that were announced this week.
UDR of Denver said it signed on as a joint venture partner to build a 256-unit mixed-use apartment building at the edge of the University of Maryland, College Park, where campus and officials are planning intense development to revitalize the Route 1 corridor. UDR is teaming up with the Hanover Cos. of Houston to develop the Domain of College Park.
In February, the Prince George's County Council approved the complex, which UDR said would cost $62 million to build. The plan includes 10,000 square feet of retail space and a 380-space parking garage at the corner of Campus Drive and Mowatt Lane, just west of the campus. The complex will offer market rate rents with the goal of attracting university faculty and staff, UDR said.
UDR touted the project as "the only privately owned, market-rate community located directly adjacent to the University of Maryland campus."
Its construction reflects the evolution of local attitudes toward development around the campus, which often used to lead to long battles over noise and traffic congestion along Route 1. But College Park officials support the Domain as part of efforts to redevelop the corridor.
"The closer things are to existing residential areas, the more concerns there are," said Terry Schum, the city's planning director. "But even our residents want entertainment and restaurants and better grocery stores."
She said Hanover is negotiating a final agreement for the city to annex the property, with details undecided on improvements to Mowatt Lane. In exchange, the city agreed to phase in property taxes from the project over five years. Hanover bought the land in 2008 for $2.75 million.
The developers have not named a tenant for the commercial space but their plan as pitched to the county council would support the county's goal of encouraging a "lively," 24-hour cycle for the development. The plan also calls for development of an outdoor plaza on a neighboring property owned by the University United Methodist Church.
The complex would form something of a gateway bookend to match the university's East Campus plan, where Baltimore developer the Cordish Cos. signed on as a partner to build a $900 million town center on a 38-acre tract that stretches along Route 1. The phased development plan includes 2,000 residential units, 400,000 square feet of retail space and a 500-seat music hall to be operated by the owners of the Birchmere in Alexandria, Va.
This is the second time UDR has pumped money into a local Hanover project after buying the company’s 180-unit Domain Brewer's Hill apartment building on the site of an old horseradish factory in Baltimore for $46 million.
KBR hired to build luxury rental housing in Silver Spring
KBR of Houston announced that it will begin construction immediately on a 210-unit luxury apartment complex using the historic buildings of the National Institute of Dryers and Cleaners in Silver Spring.
The two buildings — all that remain of a five-structure complex built from the 1920 to the 1940s — will be preserved and connected to a nine-story apartment building under a joint venture between Priderock Capital Partners of West Palm Beach, Fla., and DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners of New York. KBR Building Group will lead construction of the Heritage at Georgia Avenue, a $30 million project that is to include a two-level underground parking garage.
"The Heritage at Georgia Avenue is intended to provide high quality rental housing with well-appointed amenities," David Zimmerman, president of KBR Services, said in a news release. "Priderock’s selection of the Building Group to construct this apartment complex is attributable to our extensive experience with mixed-use projects in Greater Washington and our expertise with sustainable building practices."
The property, at the northeast corner of Georgia and Burlington avenues, had a long and colorful history. Originally opened when Georgia Avenue was still called Brookeville Pike, it served as the dry cleaning industry's trade association headquarters, with offices, class rooms and a model dry cleaning plant for and research and training. The institute also served as an industry training school for veterans returning from World War II.
The complex was designed by Arthur B. Heaton, who gained fame as the supervisory architect of the National Cathedral in Washington. The dry cleaning group occupied the space until it was acquired in 1972 by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority as part of construction of the Metro Red Line. The Heritage will be three blocks north of the Washington line and seven blocks south of the Metrorail station.
The housing project — which won Montgomery County approval in 2006 — originally was conceived as a condominium conversion before the real estate market collapsed in 2008. The county agreed to a 13 percent set-aside of units for affordable housing with the original developer, Cypress Realty Investments Realty Partners of Washington.
The new 1.9-acre project has been designed to achieve certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The Preston Partnership is the architect.
Cypress bought the property from WMATA in a public auction for $5.3 million in 2005. Priderock bought out Cypress in February for $8.4 million.
Choice Hotels signs $67M lease for new HQ
Foulger-Pratt of Rockville will build, own and manage the building housing the 138,000-square-foot headquarters of Choice Hotels International in Rockville Town Center under a minimum 10-year lease totaling about $67 million, the developer announced.
Foulger-Pratt expects to break ground this summer, with occupancy expected in 2013. Choice will be the main tenant in the 197,866-square-foot office building.
"We are thrilled to partner with Choice Hotels International in building Rockville Metro Plaza II," Clayton Foulger, principal at Foulger-Pratt, said in a statement.
The move for the Silver Spring hotel franchiser is part of a $4.4 million deal struck last year to keep the company in Montgomery County.
Montgomery County officials welcomed the news, announced Tuesday.
“The only thing better than announcing that Choice Hotels International signed a letter of intent to stay in the county is today’s announcement that they have officially signed a lease ... in the heart of downtown Rockville,” County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said in a statement.
Choice Hotels, which owns more than 6,000 hotels worldwide, has had its headquarters in Silver Spring since 1968. The company employs about 400 people at its headquarters, spokeswoman Heather Soule said.
The company agreed in October to move to Rockville when its lease in Silver Spring ends in 2013 in exchange for about $4.4 million in loans, tax breaks and other incentives from the city of Rockville, Montgomery County, and the state, said Steven A. Silverman, the county’s director of economic development.
As part of that deal, Choice Hotels will add 75 employees in Rockville, Soule said. The company also is considering building a hotel next to its headquarters, which will be at 121 Rockville Pike.
The company is expanding. As of March, Choice Hotels was in the process of building 500 hotels, according to company data.
Transwestern leasing agent for Rockville office complex
Transwestern announced that it has been retained by PS Business Parks to be the exclusive leasing agent for Metro Park North, a 53-acre business park in Rockville comprising 17 office and research and development buildings totaling 900,453 rentable square feet.
Transwestern’s Keith Foery, Jovi McAndrew and Scott Randolph will be the office leasing agents. Located in the heart of the I-270 Technology Corridor, Metro Park North is in the submarket of North Rockville. The park offers proximity to a transportation system that also includes I-370, the Capital Beltway, the Intercounty Connector and the Metro Red line.
Ruppert Properties acquires Frederick office building
Ruppert Properties of Laytonsville announced that it bought a 12-unit office condo building in Frederick's downtown historic district.
The price was $2.5 million, state records show. The Cannon Hill building at 47 E. South St. has three units vacant, according to a marketing brochure.
The recently renovated 22,000-square-foot building is part of the city's trendy, up-and-coming Eastside center.
The acquisition is a step outside Ruppert's typical industrial product.
"The building was so unique and priced well below replacement cost it just made sense," William Meissner, president of Ruppert Properties, said in a statement.
Cannon Hill was named for a nearby hill that had numerous cannons perched on it for defense during the Civil War’s Battle of the Monocacy. With four stories of brick and glass, the building is on 4 acres on the east side of downtown Frederick and only a block from the recently completed gateway to downtown Frederick, the East Street Extension, which provides direct access off Interstate 70.
The building was completed in 2007.
Silver Spring apartments get platinum rating
Blair Towns, a residential complex in Silver Spring, was certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as the first platinum multifamily project in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance.
The complex is owned by Tower Cos. of Rockville.
It earned points under the council’s rating system for its proximity to the Silver Spring Metrorail station, using environmentally friendly materials, waste management in construction, energy and water efficiency, and an education for tenants and staff to help reduce the complex’s carbon footprint, according to a company statement.
Staff Writer Alex Ruoff contributed to this report.