The site at the corner of 11th and I streets and New York Avenue NW, across from George Basiliko's and George D. Stamoulis's land, had been in Jan Evans' family since 1908. Her grandfather, who made the family's fortune in the brewing business, had bought it, leaving it to his wife when he died. When she died in 1956, she left it to her grandchildren and since then it has been passed down to generations of the Heurich family.
Eventually, 20 different families owned a small portion of the site.
Some owned only a 1/66th fraction of the lot, Evans said. D.C. developers previously interested in the land said they dreaded the idea of dealing with that many owners.
A Hertz car rental location now sits on the site. Its 50-year lease runs out in two years. Evans wanted to make sure the future of the site was planned before she died.
"When you get to be 71 years of age, you want things completed so that you can see they're done," Evans said.
Evans said she didn't want the land sold to a developer. Rather, she wanted her family to pay a fee to have it developed and to hold on to the land. But she was overruled after numerous discussions.
"No one owned enough of it to buy the other out or to develop it," she said. "Some who owned pieces of it are very young and would like to have the money."
"The fact we could get together and agree to sell it was amazing," Evans added.
It took four lawyers to negotiate the family's side of the deal when the 17,000 square foot site was sold in July to Tishman Speyer Properties, a New York developer. The price Tishman Speyer paid for the Hertz site is confidential. Industry sources estimate it sold for $24 million -- a price that rivals the going rate for land in downtown.
Tishman Speyer said it plans to build a 170,000 square foot office for law firms, associations and corporate tenants on the Hertz lot. Construction is slated to start next year and be completed by the end of 2007.
The Heurich family had gotten at least three previous offers from other prominent downtown developers in the last five years, which they had turned down. This time, the decision was simpler, Evans said: "They gave the best price."
-- Dana Hedgpeth