This week I hope to drill down deeper on some of the issues we recently chatted with MVT CID Bill McLeod about earlier this month. McLeod is limited in comments he can make about land use. Our readership is not bound by such requirements.
We asked McLeod about the prospects for office development in the Triangle. Office development is needed to come closer to realizing the vision of a vibrant mixed use community that has active streetscapes 18 hours a day. Yet we have yet to have any of the planned office developments from Wilkes‘ Mount Vernon Place or Steuart Investment’s Square 483 breakground. Elsewhere around the city in NoMa and the Capitol Riverfront continue to move forward with office projects and land major tenants even in the market slowdown.
The Triangle clearly has locational advantages over other emerging office markets including proximity to all 5 metro lines and I-395. What are people’s theories on the complete absence of progress? Do Steuart and Wilkes lack the same access to equity as developers (Akridge, Lerner, J Street, etc) in the other emerging office markets? Are MVT developers waiting for the residential projects to bear the burden of boosting the safety and vibrancy of the neighborhood? Is tenant demand simply higher in the other emerging markets because they will charge $15/sf less for Class A office space than the Downtown BID and MVT developers hope to charge downtown rents.
If Mount Vernon Triangle office developments will charge the same premium rents as downtown what kinds of tenants can we expect? Does that limit the playing field to law firms, finance and the like? Will the General Services Administration continue to steer government agencies like ATF, DOJ and DOT away from downtown?