There are more than a dozen Metro stations in Prince George's County, but unlike at stops in Fairfax and Montgomery counties, there is no private development near the stations on land owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
That's about to change. Prince George's County officials and developers held a groundbreaking ceremony last week to mark what will be the first private mixed-use development of office, residential and retail on about 20 acres owned by WMATA at the Prince George's Plaza Metro station near East West Highway and Belcrest Road in Hyattsville.
The $160 million project will be developed in phases over the next three years. It will include a 300,000-square-foot office building and 260 luxury apartments, which will rent for $1,500 to $1,700 a month. It also will have about 130,000 square feet of retail, including a Staples, Bally's Total Fitness and Circuit City, according to the lead developer of the project, Taylor Development and Land Co. of Miami. The developer also plans restaurants and other small shops for the center.
The project comes as the area's retail offerings are starting to improve, with the multimillion-dollar renovation of the Mall at Prince George's and the addition of movie theaters and a grocery store at the nearby University Town Center project.
Construction on the retail part of the new complex will start in the first quarter of next year and be completed in the second quarter of 2007. Residential construction will start in the next month and be done in 21/2 years, according to MCF Investment Co. of Silver Spring, which is doing that part of the project.
Work on the large office building will begin in the first quarter of 2007, and Taylor Development officials said they are seeking a federal government agency as a lead tenant for that building. The developers will lease the land from WMATA for 99 years.
"We're excited we're at a point where we can get moving on our project and get it built," said Jennifer Rademacher, a vice president at Taylor Development.
In the same way that many Prince George's residents express chagrin that their county lacks high-end and fashionable retailers, county officials and local developers have shown frustration that their county has not seen the intense development that has grown up around such Metro stations as Ballston in Arlington and Grosvenor in Montgomery County.
Some say the uncertainty of the market in Prince George's made developers leery of doing deals. Others privately blame WMATA for being bureaucratic and cumbersome in how it does its land deals, although they said they are nervous about criticizing the agency publicly because they want to land future deals with it.
"For market reasons, developers headed to other parts of the region," said Rosalyn Doggett, a senior development staffer at WMATA.
At least five other projects are planned on WMATA-owned land in Prince George's, according to WMATA officials. There are 15 Metro stations in the county.
"Developers realize we have sizeable sites in Prince George's County," Doggett said. "There's greater interest in transit-oriented developments because people don't want to drive so far anymore."
135 Townhouses Set for SE
District-based developer Joe Horning, who is best known for redeveloping the Tivoli Theater in Columbia Heights, said he is going to build 135 townhouses -- some of them moderately priced -- on an overgrown lot in Anacostia near Stanton and Morris roads SE.
Horning, who has owned the 10 acres for about 40 years, said he expects to start building the $20 million project in September 2006 and expects it to be completed in the spring of 2007. He said that the land was once owned by freed slaves who built houses on it and that many homeowners lived there until they died. The lots have "spectacular views of the city," he said. The new market-rate houses will start around $200,000.
"The resurgence of the city has reached Southeast and Anacostia," Horning said. "People are finding the pricing is affordable and there's proximity to downtown."
Survey Finds Inequality
An organization for women in commercial real estate said in a recently released study that although the number of women going into the industry is rising, men earn more than women based on comparable levels of experience and age.
The national survey of almost 2,000 real estate professionals, which was done by the organization Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW Network), found that 58 percent of men in the commercial real estate industry had incomes of $150,000 or higher, while only 24 percent of women reported incomes in that range.
The group represents women who work as leasing brokers, architects, engineers, investment sales brokers and financing executives in the industry.
* Brascan Corp., a Toronto-based conglomerate that invests in real estate, bought 77 P St. NE -- a 325,000-square-foot office building that is leased mainly to the District government -- from District developer Douglas Jemal. Cassidy & Pinkard, a real estate services firm in the District, handled the sale for Jemal. Brokers there declined to disclose the purchase price, although the building was assessed last year at $82 million, according to tax records.
* The NFL Players Association, the union that represents football players, and Players Inc., the for-profit arm that controls the royalties of NFL items, paid $46 million for 1133 20th St. NW, an 118,000-square-foot building. Summit Commercial Real Estate of the District represented the groups in the purchase. The groups are selling and moving out of a building they owned at 2021 L St. NW.
* American Petroleum Institute renewed its lease for about 76,000 square foot at 1220 L St. NW.
* Louis Dreyfus, a District developer, bought 801 17th St. NW for $80 million, or $350 a square foot. An executive at Louis Dreyfus said the company may tear down the building and redevelop it with a high-end office building once the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the largest tenant in the building, moves out in June 2006 to a new campus in Arlington.
* Elm Street Development of McLean and NV Retail of Tysons Corner said they have broken ground on a development in western Loudoun County, 15 miles north of Leesburg in Lovettsville, that will include 158 single-family homes, a park of almost four acres, 120,000 square feet of retail and 22,000 square feet of office space. The project is expected to be completed at the end of next year.
Dana Hedgpeth writes about commercial real estate and economic development. She can be reached at email@example.com.