Capitol Riverfront: What’s the Latest?

by Mark Wellborn

Capitol Riverfront: What’s the Latest?
Foundry Lofts at The Yards

When Nationals Park opened in March of this year, the neighborhood that surrounded it was just beginning to take shape. And even though the transition is creeping along (and will continue to evolve for the next four years), the area that is being called Capitol Riverfront may soon be a destination for home buyers who want to invest in one of DC’s untapped zip codes.

Once completed, this 500-acre section of DC just south of Capitol Hill will have 15 million square feet of office space, 9,000 residential units, 900,000 square feet of retail space, 1,200 hotel rooms and four public parks. (A full development timeline is available here.) This is pretty amazing considering that the stretch of land used to be known mainly for the variety of strip clubs that it offered.

The area will service 100,000 employees and 16,000 residents when all the developments have been completed, and owning a car will not be a necessity as the neighborhood is accessible by the green line (Navy Yard stop) and the orange and blue lines (Capitol South stop) of the Metro. At present, 700 housing units have been completed and about 1,200 people live in the neighborhood, according to Michael Stevens, Executive Director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District (BID).

The first development to open in the area was 20 M Street, a 190,000 square-foot office building, in March 2007. Three residential towers opened this summer (The Jefferson at 70 I Street, The Axiom at 100 I Street and Onyx on First at 1100 First Street SE). While these projects opened on time, the second and third phases of Monument Realty’s Half Street, a development with 370 residential units, have been delayed. However, this is the only residential project that has been postponed, according to Michael Stevens, who notes that the current economic downturn is just affecting one area: office leasing.

“I am not sure how big a role the credit crunch is playing, but there has been a falloff in office leasing,” Stevens told UrbanTurf. “There has just been an overall slowdown because there is a lot of office supply out there right now.”

Despite that, Stevens was pleased to tell UrbanTurf that the four office buildings slated to open in 2009 are still on track. And he indicated that the current deceleration has been something of a blessing in disguise.

“We think that a pause like this gives us a chance to catch up with developers in the sense that we can focus on developing the streetscape and fostering amenities to help us with office development,” Stevens said. “It is a great opportunity to examine ways to position this area as the next great neighborhood in DC.”

While no new developments are set to open in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood for the rest of 2008, a number of projects are opening or coming online in 2009. We have outlined a few below:

  • The first phase of the Capitol Quarter Townhouses (160 townhouses) will be completed by early 2009. All of the homes in the first phase, priced from $600,000, have been sold.
  • 100 M Street, a 12-story Class A office building, will open in January 2009 at the corner of 1st and M Streets across the street from the Department of Transportation headquarters. SunTrust Bank has signed a lease for a section of the ground retail space with the rest scheduled to be restaurant space.
  • The 200-unit Velocity Condos is set for completion in the summer of 2009. Located at 1001 First Street, the development will have condos ranging in price from the low $300,000s to the upper $500,000s. Twenty-five percent of the units have already been sold.
  • The 909 at Capitol Yards will be completed by the summer of 2009. The 237-unit apartment building at 909 New Jersey Avenue will have retail space on the ground floor that will feature a bar and there will also be a fitness center with an Asian-themed spa in the development.
  • The Yards Foundry Lofts will open in the fall of 2009. The development will be in a historic industrial building and it will consist of 170 loft apartments, 33 of which are two-level penthouse apartments. There will also be 10,000 square feet of street level retail.

Keep your eye out for the full neighborhood profile of Capitol Riverfront, which UrbanTurf will be publishing in the coming weeks.

Update: An October 29, 2008 article from The Washington Times says that the current economic turmoil has halted the progress of many developments in the Capitol Riverfront area.


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