2006-10-18, 17:01

Mixed use above Union Station

By: Jonathan Groner
Bisnow on Business' Real Estate Weekly, a lively, free online publication published in the D.C. area, is reporting that the Akridge company, a major D.C.-area developer, is poised to build its biggest project ever -- a development above the train tracks at D.C.'s Union Station. Akridge just purchased 15 acres of air rights over the tracks from the federal General Services Administration. This space will support three million square feet of offices, condos, apartments, stores, and even a hotel, Bisnow on Business reports. It is so large that first occupancy will not occur till 2013.

Bisnow on Business reports that "Burnham Place," named for Daniel Burnham, the visionary designer of Union Station itself, "will be Akridge’s biggest undertaking in its 30-year history, and a major move into mixed use. Historically, Akridge has been an office developer, with a sweet spot between 170,000 to 400,000 square feet and ground floor retail. . . . In recent years Akridge has added some residential components: Such predominantly office-focused projects as Gallery Place and The Hartford in Clarendon have included condos (192 and 70, respectively). Plus, they are considering a mixed use project in their current planning phase for seven acres at Buzzards Point. However, the Union Station development could be as much as 50% residential. In part this reflects an intentional new direction, although in large part it's also just a natural accommodation of new urban trends combining living, working, and playing. "

The project will have an estimated value of $1 billion, and Akridge has already brought in major out-of-town equity investors. Akridge is about to open a design competition to find an architect.

It seems to me that if Akridge and its investors are investing so much money and time in this project, mixed use is definitely here to stay. Those "new urban trends combining living, working, and playing" have tremendous commercial appeal.


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