‘Editor’s Notebook’ with Diana Mosher: Mid-Atlantic Update with Hickok Cole

Once you’ve put the name with the face, it’s great...

Once you’ve put the name with the face, it’s great to catch up in person every now and then. Next time you’re planning a visit to New York, we hope you’ll schedule some time to stop by our editorial office. Besides an in-depth look at the upcoming editorial calendar with one or more of the MHN editors, the meeting will also result in brainstorming that can lead to other story ideas for MHN Online and MHN TV or perhaps an impromptu podcast.

The same outcome can be accomplished by regularly touching base at one or more industry events during the year, but nothing beats the unhurried nature of the editorial office visit.

Earlier this month we had our annual visit with the folks from Washington, D.C.-based Hickok Cole Architects.

Michael Hickok and Yolanda Cole are principals of Hickok Cole Architects in Washington, D.C.

They brought us up to date on a number of local development projects planned for the area such as the extension of Washington’s Metro through Tysons Corner to Dulles Airport. Reston Station, a transit-oriented, mixed-use development is zoned for 1.3 million sq. ft. of development and incorporating three office buildings, two residential buildings, one hotel, retail space and a 2,300-car underground garage. Ground will be broken on the garage next March and on the residences in late 2012.

While the Mid-Atlantic market has fared much better than most during the downturn, there have still been plenty of challenges for the companies operating there. But, according to Yolanda Cole, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP and principal at Hickok Cole Architects, housing is starting to perk up. “Although we had heard that was the case, we are now really seeing it.”

Hickok Cole’s Fort Totten project—with an enviable location close to the Metro—was put on hold two years ago. “It just died,” Cole said. Initially planned as a 900-unit condo, the original developer has found a new financial partner. “It’s going to come back smaller—half the size at 450 units.” And it will be a rental, rather than a condo.

“The land has been revalued lower,” added Michael E. Hickok, AIA, principal. who founded the firm 22 years ago. “No one is prepared to risk building 900 units [right now] but 450 will make the proforma work. Click here for a short video with Michael. An interesting corollary,” he added, “is that in D.C. you can’t find a high-end condo to buy.”

With rental projects in the pipeline, hiring is picking up at Hickok Cole—about eight people in the last 18 months and Hickok thinks the firm will be hiring again real soon.

“There was a time when we hired a person every month. Before the crash we could predict the future out a year and feel good about it,” said Hickok. “Now if we can predict six months we’re feeling very comfortable.”