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National Gateway Project Advances With 6 More Office Buildings

By Chris Kirkham and Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, October 9, 2006

Land that once was home to locomotives is another step closer to becoming a retail and commercial behemoth.

Plans have been made for the next phase of development at the old Potomac Yard property in Arlington and Alexandria. The Meridian Group Inc. of Bethesda and Archon Group LP of Texas said they will develop six office buildings with more than 1.6 million square feet of space as part of the mixed-use National Gateway development in Arlington near Crystal City and Reagan National Airport.

The buildings will add to commercial and office space already under construction at the site.

Meridian and Archon plan to begin construction by year-end on two 12-story office buildings totaling 440,000 square feet. Those buildings will be ready for tenants in 2009, said Timothy Eden, a managing director at Meridian Group. The ground floors will have a total of 20,000 square feet of retail. One of the buildings will also have a 45,000-square-foot health club.

"Development sites are hard to come by in Arlington County," Eden said. "We really feel like it's going to deliver a tremendous project. "

The National Gateway project includes several developers, including Comstock Homebuilding Cos. and Camden Realty Trust. The project is expected to include seven office buildings totaling 2.2 million square feet, 1,550 apartment and condominium units, and 210,000 square feet of retail.

The project also will have a 625-room hotel. The Environmental Protection Agency has leased space in an office building that was completed in March. A building with 380 apartments will be completed early next year.

No completion date has been set for the entire National Gateway project.

Going Green

Bethesda-based SGA Cos. will start construction on an 85-unit condominium project early next year in Takoma Park.

The Ecco Park project will be built on the site of an old gas station and truck lot near the Takoma Park Metro station.

The building's features will include a "green" roof on which small shrubs and plants will be grown to reduce the captured heat. Residents will be offered yoga instruction and a Zipcar space.

The building will be ready for tenants in spring 2008. The first floor will have retail space along Carroll Street. No tenants have been signed. Architect Sassan Gharai said he hopes to have a bank, a grocery store and a coffee shop.

16 Buildings Change Hands

Brookfield Properties Corp. and its joint venture partner Blackstone Group, both of New York, bought 16 office buildings, totaling 4.4 million square feet, in the Washington region from Trizec Properties Inc.

The portfolio was part of a deal, worth $7.2 billion, to buy Trizec and its buildings in New York, Los Angeles and Houston.

Brookfield now has 21 buildings, totaling 6.7 million square feet of space, in the Washington area.

In a separate deal, Brookfield said it bought the former Enron headquarters in Houston and leased it to Chevron Corp.

Closings

· Reston Real Estate Investors LLC of San Francisco bought two Reston office buildings for $36.5 million. Grubb & Ellis Co. brokered the deal for Rim Pacific NOVA LLC. The properties are Executive Centre I & II, a 140,000-square-foot office complex.

· Columbia-based Corporate Office Properties Trust and PenMar Development Corp. purchased 500 acres of the former Fort Ritchie Army base in Washington County, Md., for $5 million. They plan to develop 1.7 million square feet of office space and 673 residential unit, including apartments and single-family homes, in the next 10 to 15 years. The base closed in 1998.

Dana Hedgpeth covers commercial real estate and economic development. Her e-mail address ishedgpethd@wahspost.com.

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