- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 29, 2008

Record high gasoline prices and public transit are putting the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood high on the agenda for Washington area real estate developers.

Residents of the formerly rundown section of the District get to live downtown, within walking distance of attractions such as the Washington Convention Center, the Verizon Center and K Street businesses.

While commuters from Washington’s suburbs endure some of the nation’s worst traffic and now are paying gasoline prices that can be more than $4 per gallon, Mount Vernon Triangle is experiencing office, retail and residential growth. The rest of the region’s real estate market is barely treading water.

“That’s a big factor in the market,” Robert Gladstone, chairman of Quadrangle Development Corp., said about the centralized location of Mount Vernon Triangle.

The neighborhood is bordered by New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts avenues in Northwest. The Gallery Place, Judiciary Square and Mount Vernon Square Metro stations are within two blocks of its boundaries.

Projects developers already have planned or are building would add 2 million square feet of office space, 5,000 residential units, 600 hotel rooms and 120,000 square feet of retail and restaurants to Mount Vernon Triangle.

Mr. Gladstone estimated these developments are about one-third completed and would take another eight years before the last of the buildings opens.

He spoke yesterday during a meeting of the local chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties at 455 Massachusetts Ave. NW, one of the new office buildings in the Mount Vernon Triangle redevelopment. The association is a trade group for commercial real estate developers, owners and managers.

Other projects rising nearby or recently opened include the City Vista residential and retail complex at Fifth and K streets Northwest and the Dumont East and Dumont West condominiums with first floor retail in the 400 block of Massachusetts Avenue Northwest.

The biggest project consists of 11 buildings between Massachusetts Avenue, K Street, Third Street and Fifth Street in Northwest, which are known collectively as Mount Vernon Place. The mixed-use community being built by Quadrangle Development and the Wilkes Co. consists of more than 2.1 million square feet of office, residential and retail space.

Developers say they expect to get $10 to $15 more per square foot in rent from commercial tenants as Mount Vernon Triangle property values rise.

In other news …

c The federal government’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is scheduled to dedicate the opening of its new headquarters today at 99 New York Ave. NE.

The new building consolidates most of the bureau’s employees in one location. It is designed to stringent security standards that would allow it to withstand the kinds of explosions that would turn most buildings into rubble.

Local business groups say the new ATF headquarters on the site of a former trash transfer site will act as a magnet for other development in the North of Massachusetts Avenue, or NoMa, neighborhood.

“ATF brings over 1,000 new employees and visitors to NoMa every day, which will support the growth of additional retail and restaurants in the area,” said Elizabeth Price, president of the NoMa Business Improvement District.

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