- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Real estate developer Akridge has found another office-building site to redevelop in downtown Washington’s East End in an area being gobbled up by commercial projects.

This week, Akridge and investment partner Mitsui Fudosan America, the U.S. subsidiary of Japan’s largest real estate investment company, said construction had begun on a 300,000-square-foot office building at 700 Sixth St. NW.

It is being built on a 28,000-square-foot parcel in Penn Quarter, where law firms, associations and government affairs firms are turning the neighborhood into an upscale version of its former self as they build new offices.

“As one of the last developable sites of its size in Washington and in a very busy neighborhood, we anticipate great success for this office development,” said Akridge President Matthew J. Klein.

It is located halfway between the White House and the U.S. Capitol, within walking distance of restaurants, hotels and cultural attractions, such as the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and Portraiture. The Gallery Place district, Verizon Center and the Gallery Place Metro station are located on the same block.

Equally important for developers is the fact the project marks part of Mitsui Fudosan America’s return to investing in the U.S. real estate market.

The company largely pulled out of the U.S. market during an economic crash in Japan in the early 1990s.

Although about 93 percent of its properties are in Japan, it invested $1.7 billion last year and plans to continue at the same rate, some of it in the Washington area.

In April 2006, Mitsui Fudosan America bought the 1090 Vermont Ave. NW building with a $57 million investment.

“Since the U.S. is the largest market in the world, we like to continue to invest in this market,” said Kosei Murakami, Mitsui Fudosan America’s chief executive officer.

The 700 Sixth St. NW site is attractive, he said. “This place is becoming very vibrant, 24/7, and central to a lot of the activities in Washington, D.C. There’s a lot of development that will attract fine tenants.”

He declined to disclose the dollar value of the project, which is scheduled for completion in early 2009. Balfour Beatty Construction, formerly Centex Construction, is the general contractor.

It has been designed by architect Bill Hellmuth of HOK with a glass curtain wall, traditional limestone columns, high-end finishes and a green roof.

In other news …

• The National Capital Revitalization Corporation said yesterday that it has completed a $23.4 million deal to build a mixed-use residential and retail project in Columbia Heights called Solea.

Construction is set to begin next month for 60,700 square feet of residential space and 4,800 square feet of retail space, half of which will be sold at discounted prices to local retailers Trade Secrets and Zawadi.

The residences, to be located at 14th and Belmont streets Northwest, would comprise 59 condominiums. Twenty-two of them would be set aside for low- to moderate-income families. Jair Lynch Companies/AHD Inc. is the developer.

The project shows the “transformative effect” the National Capital Revitalization Corp. can have on underdeveloped neighborhoods, said Therman A. Baker Jr., the city-sponsored redevelopment organization’s interim president.

c Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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