Anticipating Demand for Mixed-Use, DC Selects Team for 510,000SF School Redevelopment Project

The real estate sector in Washington, D.C., has suffered blows from the economic downturn and credit crunch just as other major cities have, but that is not preventing District officials from making plans to capitalize on widely anticipated demand down the road. The city has just chosen a team involving Stanton Development Corp. and EastBanc Inc. to spearhead the redevelopment of the former Hine Junior High School in the Capitol Hill Historic District into a 510,000-square-foot mixed-use destination.

By: Barbra Murray, Conributing Correspondent

The real estate sector in Washington, D.C., has suffered blows from the economic downturn and credit crunch just as other major cities have, but that is not preventing District officials from making plans to capitalize on widely anticipated demand down the road. The city has just chosen a team involving Stanton Development Corp. and EastBanc Inc. to spearhead the redevelopment of the former Hine Junior High School in the Capitol Hill Historic District into a 510,000-square-foot mixed-use destination.

Originally developed in 1966, the shuttered 130,000-square-foot school facility occupies a 3.5-acre site at 335 8th Street SE that will ultimately sprout a new property with a bevy of uses. The Stanton and EastBanc proposal calls for 200,000 square feet of office space, 150 residential apartments, one-third of which will be designated as affordable housing, 60,000 square feet of retail and parking to accommodate 150 vehicles. Nonprofit organization International Relief & Development has already signed on for 62,000 square feet of office space for the relocation of its headquarters in nearby Arlington, Va. Additionally, the Shakespeare Theatre Co. will house its operations at the site.

Architectural firm Esocoff & Associates / Weinstein Studio and development consultant Dantes Partners are also part of the development team.

Stanton and EastBanc are working furiously to get all its ducks in a row, including financing, to pave the way for a projected ground breaking in 2011. Despite the currently inhospitable credit market and the low demand for office and retail space, the team is not concerned about obtaining the necessary funds to move forward with the endeavor. “We’ve pre-sold and pre-leased a fair amount of the project, so we’ll be able to get a construction loan, and in some cases, users will put up their own equity,” Joe Sternlieb, vice president for acquisitions at EastBanc, told CPE. Both IRG and the Shakespeare Theatre plan to purchase their space at the property. “If lenders know where the money is coming from on the backside, it’s easier to lend on the front side. We’ve had letters of interest from conventional equity and debt sources, and we have a preliminary letter of interest from the District of Columbia’s Housing Finance Agency for financing the affordable housing segment. ”

IRG and the Shakespeare Theatre occupancy agreements notwithstanding, Stanton and EastBanc still have a ways to go to fill up the office and retail rosters for the project. Still, the developers are undaunted. “This is a unique, remarkable A-plus site–there’s no site like it in the District of Columbia,” Sternlieb said. “It’s across from the Metro and Historic Eastern Market, and seven blocks from the White House. It’s a well-established neighborhood that’s thriving and our task is to fill in the last piece of it to make it even better. This area will have a timeless, universal demand for housing and retail.” There are high hopes for the office segment, too. “There are a lot of federal jobs moving into the District and there will be demand for additional space over the next three to four years.”

The next step for the developers is the completion of land disposition and lease agreements with the city, which they are presently in the midst of drafting. “We have a very aggressive schedule for moving forward,” Sternlieb noted. If all goes as planned Stanton and EastBanc will complete development in 2013.