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Capital Business
Posted at 11:52 AM ET, 10/13/2011

Who wants to live in this 1980s-era office building?

A couple of stories online Wednesday pointed to a deal that closed in Alexandria recently, in which the home builder EYA bought 601 N. Fairfax Street, an Old Town office building, with plans to covert the building into condominiums.

It’s rare to see office buildings transformed into residential buildings. But given how much stronger Washington’s residential development market has been than the office market, it was inevitable that owners of certain office buildings would try to convert them to residential properties. The question is how many properties actually lend themselves to that type of transition.

The brick EYA building is oddly shaped; it looks sort of like a ziggurat (a stepped pyramid) that slants down to a rather barren plaza. It’s in a nice location, as it overlooks the Potomac River and is six blocks north of restaurants and night life along King Street. EYA, of which JBG is a major investor, bought it for $21 million.

Whether the 24-year-old building can be easily transformed into a residential property remains to be seen, but leaving it as an office building capable of attracting high-end tenants would likely have required at least a major overhaul.

Even then the offices would have been competing with other buildings that are emptying due to Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) moves, which affected this building as well.

It will be interesting to see whether developers in other areas — Crystal City in particular, where BRAC is emptying multiple buildings — will also try residential conversions.

By  |  11:52 AM ET, 10/13/2011

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