Opportunities for redevelopment of sites on or near the District's aging New York Avenue industrial corridor are getting increasing attention from Realtors and city government officials.
Sites available for leasing, purchase and upgrading or rebuilding for new mixed-use development were examined Friday on a tour sponsored by the Washington Board of Realtors.
Several District government officials interested in economic development, planning and transportation emphasized that the city is interested in retaining light industrial and warehouse operations and also in creating new opportunities for well-planned developments that fit what was described as a comprehensive pattern of in-city renewal.
Alvin Mcneal of the D.C. Office of Planning and Development said that hundreds of surplus, city-owned sites -- some in the New York Avenue corridor -- are expected to be made available for private purchase. But he warned that procedures are tedious and time-consuming. He said lists of potential sites will be made available on request to interested parties.
When realty leasing professional John Smith pointed up the difficulty of encouraging tenants and owners to remain in older buildings that often lack adequate parking and unloading facilities, Lawrence Schumake, head of the D.C. Business and Economic Development Office, acknowledged the problem, adding that the District government now recognizes that unfavorable tax structures have discouraged continued occupancy and expansion.
However, Smith and leasing professionalsd Kenneth Marks and Walter Mess also pointed out that leasing prices of light industrial and warehouse spaces are far less in the city's service corridor than in new suburban sites with considerable parking and unloading facilities.
It was pointed out that there are some comparative bargains for light industrial space-users willing to adapt to older sites or improve them to meet their specific needs. Some in-city spaces are leased for $1 to $2 a square foot, compared with prices that exceed $3.50 a square foot in Beltway-oriented locations. of in-city warehouse and light industrial space. However, the one-story building is now preferred more than a structure with two stories or more because of warehousing handling cost pressures. It was suggested that sound older structures of more than two stories might be adapted for housing and office space by developers interested in purchasing sites.
James O'Brien of Coldwell Banker commented that two large potential sites for major redevelopments are available on opposite sides of New York Avenue at Florida Avenue. This area is contiguous to major railroad yards and has a Chesapeake & Ohio freight station that has seen better days. However, the advantages of rail service for major shipments were cited by Realtors.
One said that increasing amounts of California-made wine now are shipped by rail to this city. Several liquor and spirits warehouses are in the Eckington yard area. Other tenants and facility owners include printing firms, appliance distributors, auto shops, an antique clothes business and the FBI.
The bus tour also took Realtors and city officials to the fort Lincoln new town on South Dakota Ave. NE. Several visitors were surprised by the progress of residential development on the hilltop site and expressed interest in the office complex planned there.
Across the street from Fort Lincoln, an area between V Street and South Dakota Avenue has been the site of intensive warehouse and service development in recent years. Walter Moss pointed out that a 9 1/2 acre undeveloped site is available for purchase for $4.50 a square foot to settle an estate. It could accomodate development of approximately 1 million square feet of new warehouse or office space.
Was the industrial-area tour sucessful in more ways than bringing realty professionals and city officials closer together in pursuit of common goals?
Walter Mess said afterward that he had an informal note of interest in one property expressed by a competing broker as a result of the tour.
Realtor Justin Hinders commented that he hoped that a commitment made long ago to enhance the New York Avenue "gateway" to many city visitors would be revived.
Speaking for the city and its economic development attitude, director Schumake said in summary: "Let's make some things happen."
As president of the Washington Board of Realtors, Kenneth J. Luchs said: "These continuing tours arranged by member Irving' Kriegsfeld are highly worthwhile and should produce results that will expand both employment and the D.C. tax base." CAPTION:
Picture, Potential development area north of New York Avenue and past Florida Avenue. By Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post