Edens & Avant Buys Retail Portion of D.C. Mixed-Use

Lowe Enterprises, lead developer of CityVista, a $200 million mixed-use project in Washington, D.C., said the development team has sold the 116,000-square-foot retail portion of the site to Edens & Avant. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. “This is a strategic acquisition for the company to expand its presence within the Washington, D.C., city limits,” Jodie McLean, Edens & Avant president & Chief Investment Officer, told CPN. Lowe Enterprises, headquartered in Los Angeles, is building CityVista (pictured) at 5th and K streets, NW, in the Mount Vernon Triangle section of Washington, D.C. The ownership group also includes CIM Group, Bundy Development Corp. and Neighborhood Development Company. The development is in partnership with the Deputy Mayor Office of Planning and Economic Development, which is the ground lessor. The retail portion of the 3.2-acre site includes a 55,000-square-foot Urban Lifestyle Safeway, one of only four in the United States. Chevy Chase Bank, Results Gym, 5th Street Hardware and a Busboys and Poets restaurant are among the other retail and dining offerings at the development. Two Class A condominiums are also located there, The L and The K, with a total of 441 units. Located three blocks from the Verizon Center, Gallery Place and the Convention Center, the project also has a one-acre private park known as Vista Green. McLean told CPN that about 12,000 square feet of the ground-floor retail is left to be leased. She said they will seek out “urban type of retailers” such as restaurants, convenience stores, salons and newsstands. Edens & Avant, a privately-owned retail real estate company based in Columbia, S.C., has been focusing more attention of the Mid-Atlantic region in recent years. McLean said about one-third of the company’s portfolio is now in the region, including northern and southern Virginia and Maryland. Developments include the Center at Innovation in Manassas, Va.; Haymarket Village in Haymarket, Va.; Mosaic District in Merrifield, Va.; and Riverton Commons in Front Royal, Va.; and Albermarle Place, a nearly 2 million-square-foot mixed-use development in Charlottesville, Va., that is expected to break ground in 2009 and eventually include 900,000 square feet of retail and office space. The company owns more than 130 shopping centers in 14 East Coast states from Massachusetts to Florida. Its portfolio includes many retail centers in infill locations in urban markets. “Washington continues to be a market where we see future job growth,” McLean said. “It’s a market we’re pretty committed to.” The company and a joint venture partner, J Street Development, also own about 140,000 square feet of properties in the Northeast quadrant of the city between the NOMA neighborhood and Gallaudet University, including the 86,000-square-foot Farmers Market. The market, also known as the Florida Avenue Market, currently has about 50 retail tenants. The companies will likely aim to do a mixed-use development there but for now McLean would only say, “We continue to operate it as the Farmers Market and are working with the city and Gallaudet and the current occupants there.” McLean said the company was looking to add more properties within the city. “Obviously it’s a hard moment in time in which to declare that. Economically, things need to settle down a bit,” she said. “But we will continue to grow our presence in Washington, D.C., in whichever manner–developments, redevelopments, acquisitions–lets us expand there judiciously.” Bill Collins, Paul Collins, Drew Flood, Jud Ryan and James Cassidy of Cassidy & Pinkard Colliers represented the sellers in the on-market CityVista transaction. Edens & Avant was represented in-house, McLean said.