- The Washington Times - Monday, June 18, 2001

A trio of developers wants to demolish a vacant department store in Gaithersburg and replace it with luxury apartments.
The empty Uptons store which closed about two years ago would be replaced with roughly 300 to 400 units under a plan being prepared by the developers.
The 5.8-acre site sits next to a shuttered Boston Market restaurant at the corner of Quince Orchard Boulevard and Great Seneca Highway, in the Kentlands planned community.
"Retail doesn't work there. Nobody wants to be at that site," says Lowell Baier of Baier Properties in Bethesda, which controls the site with two partners, development firm Stanford Partners and Archstone Communities, a real estate investment trust.
Retailers have failed at the site because it is hard to access from the highway, Mr. Baier says. The property is better suited for apartments because they would appeal to workers in the growing Interstate 270 biotechnology business corridor.
Mr. Baier says the development team is meeting with Kentlands residents to get their ideas on the design of the proposed apartment complex. He says he won't know how much the project will cost until he finalizes a development plan.
"We're not going to file [the plan] until we have met with the Kentlands residents and everyone has a high degree of comfort with what we're proposing," he says.
Empty-nesters and young professionals are creating more demand for upscale apartments nationwide, according to a new study by the National Multi Housing Council. The market for luxury apartments will grow 12.9 percent between 1995 and 2010, the report says.

High-rises on the horizon

Developers have broken ground on three high-rise apartment buildings in Arlington, which has one of the region's tightest rental housing markets.
The Donohoe Cos. is developing the tallest of the three towers Twin Oak, a 19-story building near the Rosslyn Metrorail station.
The other projects are in Pentagon City. KSI Services is building the Metropolitan, a 15-story upscale complex, and Lcor is developing the 17-story Warwick House II.
D.C. architecture firm Weihe Design Group designed all three buildings.
There are roughly 7,600 high-rise apartments in Arlington, and about 1 percent of them are vacant, according to local real estate research firm Delta Associates. The average vacancy rate for all high-rise units in the D.C. area is also about 1 percent, Delta says.

Construction completed

Clark Construction of Bethesda has finished building a $37 million office tower in Fairview Park, a business park in Falls Church.
The Orr Co. and a private partnership developed the 15-story, 385,000-square-foot building, and an adjacent, 400,000-square-foot parking garage.
Clark has finished two other big projects in Northern Virginia.
The company completed construction of Plaza Ridge I and Plaza Ridge II, two six-story, 158,000-square-foot buildings in Herndon. Tishman Speyer Properties developed the complex.
In addition, Clark has finished Virginia Square Plaza, a $16 million office building in the Rosslyn-Ballston area. New Boston Fund and the Meridian Group developed the property.

In other news

Baltimore developer MIE Properties has started two buildings at the 82-acre Ashburn Technology Park. The buildings, which can be used as offices or warehouses, will have almost 840,000 square feet.
PEC Solutions will lease 150,000 square feet at the Fair Lakes Technology Campus in Fairfax. Local brokerage CB Richard Ellis arranged the lease.
SoftMed, a North Bethesda software development company, has preleased TechHill Two, a 71,500-square-foot office building in Silver Spring. International real estate investment firm Grosvenor owns the building, which is part of its WesTech Business Park.
Rockville real estate services firm Scheer Partners will be the facility manager of the Maryland Technology Development Center at 9700 Great Seneca Highway in Gaithersburg. The 52,000-square-foot facility serves as a business incubator and the headquarters of the Technology Council of Maryland.
Information security firm Ubizen has finished building a new 30,000-square-foot headquarters in Reston. M Group of Vienna designed the office, which was built by Cysa Management and Dietze Construction.
Royal Auto Glass will open a corporate headquarters in Capitol Heights, where it has leased 27,348 square feet in the Hampton Commerce Center. Local brokerages KLNB and CB Richard Ellis arranged the deal.
D.C. architects BBMG will design Novak Biddle's offices on the 13th floor of the new Chevy Chase Bank building in Bethesda. The venture capital firm plans to occupy 6,500 square feet in the tower, which is under construction at the intersection of East-West Highway and Wisconsin Avenue.

Chris Baker can be reached at 202/636-3139 or baker@twtmail.com.

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