$100M Suburban Washington, D.C. TOD on the Road to Realization

Washington, D.C.--While the national apartment market took a nosedive, the market in Silver Spring, Md., held its own, and now a new $100 million project has gotten underway to accommodate increasing demand.

Washington, D.C.–While the national apartment market took a nosedive, the market in Silver Spring, Md., held its own, and now a new $100 million project has gotten underway to accommodate increasing demand. Washington Property Co. just broke ground on 1150 Ripley St., a transit-oriented development that will bring 286 new residential units to the suburban Washington, D.C., town.

The new apartment community will mark yet another step in Montgomery County’s continued effort to transform downtown’s Ripley District—a site that forms a triangle between Bonifant Street, Georgia Avenue and the CSX Railroad—into a bustling live-work-play destination. At 1150 Ripley, easily accessible transportation is the central theme. The 17-story tower will sit across from the new multi-modal, state-of-the-art Paul S. Sarbanes Silver Spring Transit Center and its 34 bus bays and direct metro and rail access. Touted by local officials and Washington Property as the first major construction endeavor in nearly two decades, the 417,000-square-foot Lessard Group-designed building will also offer 7,000 square feet of ground-level retail space. In addition to studio, one- and two-bedroom residences, the property will feature four levels of below-grade parking.

“We hope to be the next new apartment project to come along within the two-year window,” Charles K. Nulsen III, president of Washington Property Company, tells MHN. “The demand for accommodations in downtown Silver Spring is very clear. In the last 24 to 36 months, six new residential projects have been developed in the central business district and they all have been absorbed.” According to a report by Transwestern Mid-Atlantic Multifamily Group, from midyear 2009 to midyear 2010, the vacancy rate across Suburban Maryland dropped 250 basis points to an enviable 1.9 percent.

Demand or no, Washington Property was unable to escape the squeeze of the credit crunch. “The project was delayed not because of demand—we saw downtown Silver Spring outperform most areas—it was the financial crisis,” Nulsen says. “Bank lending requirements took a long time to negotiate.” But local officials worked hand in hand with the developer to make sure 1150 Ripley could get off the ground. Montgomery County’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs provided Washington Property with $5 million in short-term financing from its Housing Initiative Fund.

Back on track now, 1150 Ripley is scheduled to reach completion in 2012. “Demand will be very strong for the property, not just because Silver Spring is an attractive, desirable place to live, but because it will be 300 feet from public transportation. Downtown Silver Spring appeals to transit-oriented individuals.”

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