A Fairfax-based developer said yesterday that it plans to build luxury condominiums on a now empty half-acre lot at Buzzards Point in Southwest -- a sign, real estate brokers and developers say, that the desire to build near the planned baseball stadium is rippling outward.
Walnut Street Development, a housing developer with projects in Arlington and Fairfax and in some of the District's Northwest neighborhoods, said it plans to build 90 condos and 20,000 square feet of first-floor retail at V and First streets SW near the Frederick Douglass Bridge.
Walnut Street said it expects that the city's multimillion-dollar plans to redevelop the waterfront in Southwest and Southeast will create a demand for more housing.
Construction on the project, which requires zoning approval, would probably start late next year and be finished in early 2008. The asking price is expected to be around $500 a square foot; 15 of the units on the upper floors will have two-story glass with views of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers and the Capitol to the north, according to Mark A. Schacknies, director of acquisitions for Walnut Street Development. The company said it is going to choose in mid-December from five architects who are submitting designs for the project.
Walnut Street and the landowner, Duane R. Deason, are still working out details of their deal, which is expected to close in the second quarter next year. Deason has an option to keep an interest in the land and the project, or he could sell the land outright for $8.3 million -- $85 per buildable square foot.
Deason, a 38-year-old accountant, said he bought the land last year as he was looking for an investment after selling his financial services consulting company in 2000. He paid $275,000 for it to the estate of Laszlo N. Tauber, according to city land and tax records. Tauber was a surgeon who built a large portfolio in the Washington area, mostly office buildings.
"When I was looking to buy it, the stadium deal was dead," Deason said. "I could see there was a lot of potential there though. It overlooks the marina and I knew it would be worth something some day." He put the land up for sale a few months ago.
The Walnut project is one of several planned for the Buzzards Point and the Southeast waterfront areas. Akridge, a District developer, bought nine acres from Pepco Holdings Inc. just north of Walnut where it plans to build housing, retail and office space. And Florida Rock of the District has submitted plans to the city to turn its gravel pits into another large mixed-use project overlooking the Anacostia River.
"That area is the new downtown," said Arthur B. Benjamin, a senior vice president at AMR Commercial Real Estate in Bethesda who recently brokered a $51 million deal for a Rockville-based developer to turn land that has nightclubs and taxi cab companies on it into a mixed-use project. Of the proposed Walnut project, he said, "Anytime you get waterfront property, it should be a home run for these guys."
Deason said when he bought the property, he expected it would take five to 10 years before developers were interested in buying and building there. But when the stadium came and Pepco sold its land, Deason said, "I got kind of lucky."