- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Developers are meeting this week with architects to choose a firm to oversee design of a 1 million-square-foot retail and housing project near D.C.’s Fort Totten Metro station.

The project would cover 9 acres in what Lowe Enterprises and its partners say is the last parcel of property available for such a large development near a Metro station in the Washington area.

“That was certainly huge for us,” said Harmar Thompson, senior associate for Lowe Enterprises, which is partnering on the project with Rockville developers JackSophie Development and Ellis Denning Construction. “It’s an easy walk to the Metro.”

The developers estimate the cost at $250 million to $400 million, although the groundbreaking is at least a year-and-half away and completion of the project would take more than three years.

Their chances for completing the project took a big leap forward July 11. The D.C. Council passed a resolution in which they agreed to sell the developers the last parcel they needed for construction east of the intersection at South Dakota Avenue and Riggs Road.

The developers declined to give details of their plan while negotiations with the architects and potential tenants continue. Nevertheless, at least one part of the design already has been assigned to Georgetown’s Hickok Cole Architects.

The firm is designing a 200,000-square-foot housing complex for 190 condominiums. The architects estimate the selling price at $385 per square foot, moderate for the area.

Eventually, between 750 and 850 housing units would be built for the entire complex, called the Dakotas.

The centerpiece would be retail shops, anchored by a major grocery store and “some potential for ma-and-pa shops,” said Laurence Caudle of Hickok Cole. “We’re finishing up design and going to construction documents.”

The developers say the retail component would benefit from a rapid pace of housing projects nearby by several companies, such as the West Group, Cafritz Foundation and Clark Realty. All of them are building or acquiring condominiums, apartments or town homes near the Fort Totten Metro.

About 20 percent of the housing units would be set aside as low- and moderate-income households. The rest would be sold at market rates.

“We’re looking to provide a niche for moderately priced housing near Metro,” said Andrew Schwartzberg, principal in JackSophie Development.

Level 2 Development, a Washington commercial and residential real estate developer, began demolition this week on the former, four-story Petrovitch Auto Repair garage to make room for View 14, an $80 million development of 180 luxury condominiums at 14th Street and Florida Avenue Northwest.

Level 2 Development, in partnership with Centrum Properties of Chicago, purchased the Petrovitch site for $10.2 million in June 2005. The View 14 condominium complex is designed to include 16,000 square feet of street-level retail space and a 20,000-square-foot fitness center.

Sales of the condominiums are planned to begin in early September. The units range from studios starting at $259,000 to penthouses at just under $1 million. Construction is scheduled to start in the fall of 2006.

• Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail tramstack@washingtontimes.com.

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