Japanese home-building giant Sekisui House announced Wednesday that it is buying the main Fannie Mae headquarters building on Wisconsin Avenue NW in an $89 million deal for one of the largest development sites in the District.
The deal was one of three for Fannie Mae properties. Sidwell Friends School, located across the street from the campus, is buying a separate Fannie building at 3939 Wisconsin Ave. NW for $8.2 million. Fannie is selling a third building, 4250 Connecticut Ave. NW, to Bernstein Management for $24.8 million
Fannie put the three headquarters properties on the market last year. The housing agency plans to move to a new downtown headquarters being developed by Carr Properties in place of the former Washington Post headquarters.
Sekisui is buying the main property in partnership with D.C.-based Roadside Development, which has built projects including CityMarket at O in the Shaw neighborhood and Cityline at Tenley in Tenleytown.
The deal is for the 228,000-square-foot central building, at 3900 Wisconsin Ave., a stately brick complex that has housed Fannie Mae operations since 1958, and about 10 acres of land that surrounds it.
Sekisui has built more than 2 million homes, and its North American unit has already made major investments in the Washington area, including when it bought a majority stake in One Loudoun, the mixed-use community in Ashburn. Sekisui also has U.S. propeties in Texas, Washington, Colorado, North Carolina and elsewhere.
Richard Lake, a founding partner of Roadside, said in an interview Wednesday that his company planned to preserve the main building as part of its plans. He said the companies not plan to seek zoning changes.
“Our vision is very similar to what we did at CityMarket at O. … We know it’s going to be mixed-use. We like to do projects that have multiple dimensions to them,” Lake said.
“We want to preserve [the buildings] and we are interested in working with the community and city in preserving that experience all the way through. Our vision is not to gut them and just keep the facades. It’s really to use them, to incorporate these buildings,” he said. “Beyond that we have not really begun our conversations with the community.”
The three properties were assessed for a total of $204 million by the District in 2016 — well above the $122 million that Fannie Mae is getting for them. Experts say neighborhood opposition to new development in the area potentially affected their value.
Fannie spokesman Pete Bakel defended the deals, saying they constituted a strong return for taxpayers and that the properties would be in good hands once Fannie Mae moves out.
The housing agency plans to remain in its current space until construction on the new location is complete. Bakel said the final move date has not been decided.
“This was a very competitive sales and bidding negotiations processs, but we found all three of these separate buyers to be very strong corporate citizens with the best interests of D.C. in mind,” Bakel said.
“We feel very strongly that the price was in the best interests of the taxpayers by a long shot and we’re pleased to move forward and move into our leased space, which will increase our efficiency,” he added.
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