Urban Turf on MVT

Urban Turf wrote a brief posting on the Mount Vernon Triangle yesterday. A wide range of opinions were expressed by readers in the comments section. Below was my response:

I won’t disagree with the notion that my neighborhood will take 7-10 years to tap into it’s full potential. However City Vista has several of the core amenities you need like the Safeway and Results Gym. City Vista also has the Busboys and will sign several additional restaurant tenants for the vacant K Street retail bays at some point this year.

Let’s also consider that while MVT is a neighborhood in transition it’s only 3 blocks from the epi-center (7th & H) of the downtown’s hustle and bustle. I can be at Verizon Center and dozens of Penn Quarter restaurants with a walk of just a few blocks. Also our location is a short walk to all 5 metro lines, union station, and two DC circulator lines.

MVT will take a little time to grow into it’s own, but it’s immediate proximity to the downtown core make it imminently more livable now than say the Capitol Riverfront, NoMA, or someplace like Jenkins Row by the Potomac Ave Metro.

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DuMont for sale: $170 million

The DuMont condominiums have been in limbo for months. A tip from reader PQResident shows that the building Ideal Realty Group, on behalf of the lender, is listing the two 14 story buildings totaling 559 units at the price of $170,000,000. A four page flyer is available on the IRG website.

Reactions to this quote?:

The Esocoff architectural designed community is the most luxurious property constructed in the Mount Vernon Triangle and Gallery Place / Chinatown submarkets.

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Rent or Buy at City Vista?

The blog DC Home and Condo Prices has conducted an analysis on whether you should rent or buy at City Vista. He suggests the break even point may be 9 years.

I do squabble with one of his assumptions. New apartment buildings price units to fill the building up fast. The apartment rates at City Vista are below market. They also are offering great incentives. This will change after the building fills up. Because the rates are below market, the yearly rent increases will be higher than the 3% Keith factors into his model. The increases will likely be more like 8% until the City Vista’s rate catch up with the surrounding market. I’ve lived through this in Ballston at the beginning of the decade. I had two consecutive years of $100 rent increases on a $1200 1BR. The property management company will assume that inertia will keep a substantial percentage of people from moving. Afterall, moving every year because you feel rent increases are too high will have its wasteful costs as well. Moving trucks, service installation fees at your new address, etc will cut into any rent savings.

I will acknowledge that renting from City Vista (or DuMont) could be more financially advantageous than buying over the next 2-3 years given this economy. But buying a home is generally more forward looking than a 3 year time horizon.

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WCP: Glut City?

Washington City Paper’s Housing Complex blog has mentioned the Mount Vernon Triangle twice in the last week.

Last week the mention was MVT’s ranking in $/sf for Q4 condo sales. This week’s HC posting offers a less flattering tilt coining our ‘hood Glut City.

I won’t really refute the author’s point that there is presently a substantial amount of vacancy in the Triangle’s new construction. However I think thats focusing overly on the negative. Madrigal Lofts has gone to settlement on well over 100 units in the last twelve months – how many other DC condos can say that? The inventory is moving. It’s still going to take awhile as so much of it arrived at the same time.

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Assorted real estate misery index links

DOJ Developer in NoMA unable to secure financing: Despite having a government anchor tenant, StonebridgeCarras has been turned away by two banks for their Constitution Square project in NoMA. This project includes a Harris Teeter that would be a 5 minute bike ride from the Triangle.

Oversupply of luxury rentals: WBJ’s Mara Lee talks to real estate insiders who suggest that for at least the next three years, and possibly longer, there will be more supply than demand for high-end apartments in the Washington area.

The Stock Market tank will slow down Luxury housing sales: FranklyRealty asks who is going to unload their stocks down 25-45% to buy a house? Answer – damn few.

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EveryBlock DC

Thanks to WeLoveDC I became aware of the debut of EveryBlock in the District. This web tool parses and compiles information from a variety of live public feeds and allows end users to customize what they receive.

I’ve created an EveryBlock feed that has data including Business reviews, Calls for city services, Crimes, News articles, and Real estate listings centering around the 400 block of K Street NW. A link to this feed will be a fixture in the right hand margin of our blog.

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WBJ: The hunt for the next hot spots

The latest weekly issue of the Washington Business Journal arrived in my mailbox with an 84 page magazine insert called OnSite: Greater Washington’s Real Estate Quarterly. The feature article in the magazine is titled “The hunt for the next hot spots.”


The most important factor in figuring out where we’ll be living in the future is to look at how we’ll be living. Just as the automobile in the 1940s and ’50s and racial turbulence in the 1960s and ’70s drove their parents and grandparents to the suburbs, look for today’s younger generations to affect what tomorrow’s communities will look like.

Just consider developer Jim Abdo’s successful bet in the late 1990s that Gen X-ers (born from 1965 to 1980) would line up for new places in the city if he helped remake Logan Circle.

“Generation X and Generation Y are putting much more emphasis on life-work balance,” says Adam Ducker, managing director at Richard Charles Lesser & Co., a real estate firm based in Bethesda.

One of the main ways to achieve a better life-work balance, Ducker says, is foregoing a large home in the suburbs and the long commute it carries for a smaller home closer to work. Commuting in exchange for a bigger house was a deal baby boomers were willing to make for their family. For younger generations, that’s not a reasonable trade-off.

That means neighborhoods like the established Dupont Circle and the emerging Capitol Riverfront around Nationals Park in Southeast — where you can walk or Metro to work, shop, exercise and socialize, all without getting in your car — will only grow in popularity as Generation Y (those born between 1979 and 1996) ages.

According to Richard Charles Lesser’s research, 77 percent of Gen Y-ers plan to live in an urban core — a far cry from the baby boomers’ suburban dream of a white picket fence and a two-car garage.

Developers are paying attention: The 80 million Gen Y-ers (30 percent of the population to the boomers’ current 25 percent) will drive the real estate market in the coming years. They’re expected to transition from renters to homeowners starting around 2012 and flood the market with demand for more urban developments. That means more condos, more apartments and more townhouses. At the same time, even many boomers are moving back toward the city in search of walkable communities.

Generation X accelerated the trend toward city living — just look at the wildly successful Ballston and Clarendon areas — but the Washington region will only see more in-fill and new urban neighborhoods spring up in the years to come.

Much more in the online article including thoughts on how density in the suburbs, even off metro such as Shirlington and the Reston Town Center will also continue to be models for the future.

Not in the online article are WBJ’s spotlights on emerging hot spots. The list was not meant to be inclusive but rather highlight a few locations inside and outside the beltway across DC, Virginia and Maryland. Those included Anacostia, Poplar Point, Fort Totten and Hill East in the District; Rosslyn, Braddock Road, Columbia Pike and Occoquan in Virginia; Gaithersburg, Green Belt, Landover, Laurel and Mount Rainier in Maryland. No direct mention of the Triangle but I think, with the exception of Rosslyn, these were meant to be longer term speculations than MVT or NoMA.

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Developers should be pissing their pants.

This post is about me venting, so please take it with a grain of salt.

OK. So I don’t care what anyone says (specifically real estate agents representing developers) the market is NOT doing well. SO why do I feel like when it comes to developers in this city is it that they refuse to go above and beyond their duties as soon as you sign on the dotted line. In case these overly optimistic people haven’t noticed, interest rates are going up, people still don’t want to dive in and make these big purchases; especially when you refuse to budge on your price of 540 p/sq ft. And even when I agreed to pay that you refuse to do me even the simplest of favors?! I still can’t be too specific about the situation as I am still trying to work through it but you bet that once i’ve followed through there will be a pretty sizeable story about the incompetence of these people that work for marketing firms representing developers.

Well I have news for you Mr Condo Sales Person, I have no qualms about walking away without my deposit and when me and 10% of the 40% of condos you sold thus far do the same you are in a real big pickle.

Here are some links for our readers to take in everything in the same negative light that I am viewing the situation:

The City Paper: These Prices are INSANE!

DC Housing Prices: DC sales December 2007

Bubble Meter: More Condo Projects Going Rental

Fortune: Real Estate, Buy Sell or Hold?

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