DC CityCenter Construction Begins at Former Convention Center Site
On Monday April 4, Hines|Archstone’s CityCenter broke ground at the site of the former DC convention center, with the simultaneous announcement of a full equity investment from Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co. (QatariDiar), reports Real Estate Bisnow and The Washington Post. Mayor Vincent Gray and members of the DC City Council met at the area, currently a parking lot, to celebrate the beginning of the site’s construction.
Gray called CityCenter, “one of the most important projects in the history of the District of Columbia,” in a lavish tent where reporters, developers, neighbors, businesspeople and District officials gathered for the celebration.
CityCenter DC is a 10-acre, mixed-use development, located in the heart of downtown Washington on a 4.5-block parcel bounded by New York Avenue, 9th, H and 11th Streets NW. A total of six buildings are to be put up over the next three years as phase 1 of the project, according to the Washington Post, split between apartments, condos and office space, all connected by a public courtyard. Shops and restaurants will line the street level with four levels of underground parking, and 10th and I Streets will be reopened to reconnect the city’s street grid. A second phase of the project is planned to include an upscale hotel, along with additional square feet of retail.
The project is an enormous undertaking for the city, and promises to transform the east end of Downtown, however its history of development troubled financing and development has kept that area of the town in limbo for years. According to the Washington Business Journal, Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans joked about meeting to discuss the project years ago with Bill Alsup (of Hines, based in Houston), George Washington and Pierre L’Enfant.
But with financing plans now in place, Gray is already touting the achievement of CityCenter as “the last piece of the puzzle for downtown Washington.” If successful, CityCenter would accordingly transform Downtown into a more substantial neighborhood, where citizens don’t only work and go out, but live.
Anchor investor QatariDiar is the real estate investment arm of the Qatari Investment Authority. Barwa Bank’s investment banking subsidiary, The First Investor (TFI), financed the project. TFI will co-invest in and manage the dedicated TFI U.S. Real Estate Fund.
“This effort has been almost a decade in the making, and we look forward to the progress that will be made on the site of the old convention center as this last missing piece of our downtown is redeveloped,” Mayor Gray said. “I am excited about the more than 190 District Certified Business Entities that are involved in the planning, design and construction of this project, and the thousands of construction and permanent jobs that it will create. This is a huge development for the residents of and visitors to our city.”
According to the Washington Post, construction is not scheduled to finish until 2014, and phase 2 will not be done until late 2015 (though it is probably fair to assume unexpected delays and hurdles, as par for the course).
Gray, touting the job opportunities within the project, expects it to create 1,700 construction jobs and almost 4,000 permanent jobs. Nearly 100 local companies have already secured contracts with the development team.