Maryland Office Building to Become Apartment Community

A five-story office building at 11411 Georgia Ave. in Wheaton, Md. is being redeveloped as an apartment building.

By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer

Wheaton, Md.—A five-story office building at 11411 Georgia Ave. in Wheaton, Md. is being redeveloped as an apartment building.

The transformation of the existing building, which is being undertaken by national real estate development, investment and management firm Lowe Enterprises, will add seven stories, turning the redeveloped structure into a 12-story apartment tower featuring 194 apartment homes.

In an effort to appeal to young urban professionals, the new building has been designed to offer a selection of studio, one- and two-bedroom units. The construction started in mid-June, and completion is slated for 2014.

The redevelopment follows on the heels of the Downtown Wheaton Sector Plan adoption, which calls for increased density near the Metro station. The building is next to that stop, meaning residents will have quick access into Washington, D.C. and neighboring Silver Spring, Md. on the Red Line. It is also just one block from the Westfield Wheaton Shopping Center, and is likely to enjoy proximity to additional stores as Wheaton continues with an ambitious redevelopment plan.

“Georgia Avenue is an infill location between two stabilized multifamily properties that are currently at the top of the market,” Mark Rivers, managing director of Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group, tells MHN.

“There is a new Safeway [supermarket] under construction less than a block away, and several other significant investments being made in Wheaton, including multifamily developments; the re-tenanting of the Westfield Wheaton Shopping Center with a Target, Costco and other high-profile retailers; and the future office building for the Maryland National Capital Park & Planning Commission. The recently adopted Downtown Wheaton Sector Plan, which allows for a significant increase in density and building height, also made this an attractive opportunity.”

The biggest challenge Lowe Enterprises faced is ensuring the new building really looks like a modern and inviting apartment community, not an old office building with seven stories tacked atop.

“We accomplished this by layering the new façade over portions of the existing brick, making it difficult to differentiate between the existing structure and the new,” Rivers says. “Working with the rhythm of the existing column grid and windows required the architect to design the building from the inside out, which is a bit unusual for a residential project. But there were far more opportunities than challenges. For example, because the existing structure is quite stout, very little structural enhancement is needed to support additional floors. The building dimensions also provide for very efficient units with lots of natural light. And the structure allows for finished ceiling heights of about nine feet, six inches. We were able to dedicate the entire 12th floor to state-of-the-art amenities, which include generous outdoor space with glass railings providing unobstructed views.”

In addition to amenities designed to appeal to young renters, the redeveloped structure will deliver another quality likely to make it a winner. “The building will provide a boutique, metropolitan-style space for the surrounding area, in significant contrast to other options on the market,” Rivers says.