Buying the Building: Renters Invoke TOPA in Capitol Riverfront

  • Aug 13th 2012

by Shilpi Paul

Buying the Building: Renters Invoke TOPA in Capitol Riverfront: Figure 1
The Onyx on First.

Renters at Onyx on First, a 266-unit apartment complex in Capitol Riverfront, are trying to purchase the building before its owners can sell to Equity Residential, reported the Washington Business Journal late Friday.

The renters are invoking the DC’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), which gives residents the right to submit a bid for ownership. Onyx on First at the corner of 1st and M Streets SE (map) is currently under contract to sell to Equity Residential for $82.5 million.

The 120 residents who are organizing to purchase the building are worried that Equity would raise the rent and/or reduce the quality of certain aspects of the building, and are exploring options that include converting some or all of the units to condos or finding a new owner.

From the Washington Business Journal:

“We don’t want to become the face of the new displaced in the near Southeast area,” Bolden said. “It’s a great neighborhood, a great mix of people, and we just want to see what our options are.”

In some cases, residents who invoke TOPA are rewarded even if they don’t get to stay in their homes. A few years ago, UrbanTurf wrote about the residents of Garden Towers, a building in the U Street Corridor. When Garden Towers was under contract to sell, TOPA gave the residents bargaining power. With the help of a lawyer, they were able to strike a deal that gave residents a $20,000 buyout option upon leaving.

Onyx on First residents are in the early stages of the TOPA process, having just submitting the paperwork with the city on Friday. Once accepted, they will have 120 days to figure out what they want to do.

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This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/renters_invoke_topa_in_capitol_riverfront/5898.

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