Cassidy Turley to Provide Leasing Services for 2.2 MSF D.C. Development

Cassidy Turley becomes part of a landmark development in Washington, D.C., with Property Group Partners' selection of the firm to serve as the exclusive leasing services provider for the I-395 Air Rights Development.

February 6, 2012
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

An artist's rendering of the Air Rights development.

Cassidy Turley becomes part of a landmark development in Washington, D.C., with Property Group Partners’ selection of the firm to serve as the exclusive leasing services provider for the I-395 Air rights Development. The premier mixed-use project, which will be erected on a platform above I-395, will produce 2.2 million square feet of commercial space with a focus on office accommodations.

“It’s going to have retail, it’s going to have restaurants, it’s going to have roof decks,” Art Santry, senior managing director with Cassidy Turley, told Commercial Property Executive. “It’s going to have everything that you’d ever want to have in an office environment.”

I-395 Air Rights will span three city blocks, sprouting up on what is the largest contiguous undeveloped site in downtown Washington, D.C. But it’s not your typical site. While the project’s five buildings will be anchored on terra firma, its pathways and roads will be above it all, above the Center Leg Freeway of I-395, to be precise. “You’re creating a space, you’re creating seven acres of land that don’t exist and that’s pretty unique,” he said.

The project’s office offerings will include four 12-story structures, among them, the 546,700-square-foot, tower at 250 Massachusetts Ave.; 200 Massachusetts Ave., featuring 407,000 square feet; the 297,300-square-foot 201 F St.; and 200 F St., a 685,400-square-foot building.

The development will also encompass a residential tower, the 180,400-square-foot, 13-story building at 600 Second St., as well as ground level retail and thousands of parking spaces. Additionally, I-395 Air Rights will be able to lure occupants with what has become a coveted feature for tenants: LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Cutting-edge technology, top-of-the-line amenities, and buildings designed by prominent architects — as Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill — will distinguish the project, as will another major factor. Size. Size does matter, and I-395 Air Rights will have it. Businesses seeking large accommodations and room for growth will be able to find a home there. Today, such users have limited options in the city. At the close of 2011, according to a Cassidy Turley report, there was only one new property with a large contiguous block of space available: the Capitol Hill submarket’s 414,200-square-foot building at 1015 Half St., where approximately 200,000 square feet is up for grabs.

The first office building at I-395 Air Rights could come online in roughly three years. In the meantime, tenants seeking anchor spaces can make their needs known to Cassidy Turley — and have them met. “We can modify the design, nothing is set in stone,” Santry affirmed. “Property Group Partners has been very specific about that. They’ve made it clear that, ‘Hey, we’ll do what the market demands.'”

And the demand, he believes, will certainly exist when the massive, multi-phase project, makes its debut. In the last few years, the Washington, D.C., office market has been buoyed by government agencies’ growth and their accompanying need for additional space. However, the government is unlikely to be a lead tenant at the state-of-the-art development. “Given the rental rates for this asset, it’s hard to make the government wok on this site, because the government has a ceiling on rent. It’s not our initial marketing focus.”

Service companies, medical industry businesses and law firms are the practical target market. “Twenty-five years ago, a big law firm deal was 100,000 or 150,000 square feet and that was a monster deal,” Santry explained. “Now they’re 350,000 and 400,000 and if you look at the average building in Washington D.C., it’s 200,000-plus square feet. So if you’re a big law firm it’s hard to get under one roof. The buildings at this development can provide a campus. It’s not crazy to think that a law firm will be 500,000 or 600,000 square feet in 10 years. So we can say, ‘Here’s your campus,’ and that is pretty unique.”

And with a low level of new product scheduled to deliver in the near future, demand is on track to increase in what is already one of the best-performing office markets in the country. According to the Cassidy Turley report, currently, new supply in the District is at its lowest level since the late 1990s and construction completions will likely remain light. It appears that I-395 Air Rights’ office towers will stand out, literally and figuratively. “They will be very high-end, forward-thinking, sustainable buildings,” Santry said. “The quality will be second to none.”

*This story was updated at 8:45 a.m. EST on Feb. 7, 2012.