By Barbra Murray, Contributing Writer
Alexandria, Va.–Wood Partners L.L.C. saw an opportunity and jumped on it. The Atlanta-based real estate company has just acquired three acres in Alexandria, Va., for the development of a 290-unit luxury apartment community that will help answer an increasing demand spurred by growth of the US Army’s Fort Belvoir base approximately six miles to the south.
Wood Partners is developing The Heights at Groveton in a joint venture with Washington, D.C.’s Redbrook Development Group at a cost of $68 million. The team purchased the site at 6830 Richmond Highway, once home to the Beacon Field Airport, from MDP Groveton L.L.C. for an undisclosed sum. “We selected this land due to the fact that it was under contract for 3.5 years, thus the site-plan was already approved, which means Wood can start construction immediately,” Leonard Wood Jr., director of the Mid-Atlantic Region of Wood Partners, tells MHN. Commercial real estate services firm Cassidy Turley represented the partners in the transaction, while Holliday Fenoglio Fowler L.P. stood in for the seller.
Construction of The Heights is on track to commence in February. Upon its anticipated 2012 completion, the development will consist of a single structure with five- and six-story elevations to encompass the high-end residences, 10,000 square feet of ground-level retail space and parking for residences and retail patrons.
While the national apartment market has yet to fully recover, the area surrounding Fort Belvoir is booming with a vacancy rate of 2.5 percent, as Wood Partners notes in a press release. And with an estimated 50,000 military and civilian employees on track to land at Fort Belvoir due to the federal government’s Base Realignment and Closure Act process, the market will tighten even more. Given The Heights’ close proximity to transit and easy access to Washington, D.C., which is approximately five miles away, Wood Partners will market the project to working professionals searching for high-end apartments minus the big-city price tag.
The words high-end and affordable rarely go hand-in-hand, but Wood Partners’ decision to build a luxury rental property on the land in Alexandria has everything to do with the lackluster economy. “Due to the economic downturn, the percentage of D.C. residents renting versus owning a home increased by 4.5 percent, compared to the national average of 1.5 percent,” Wood says. “Thus we are in a ‘renters by choice’ market. Wood Partners wanted to offer a luxury apartment community as an affordable alternative to living in the city of Alexandria; a luxury apartment is the next best thing to home ownership.”