March 8, 2014

DC NEW DEVELOPMENT

I wrote a post about the Newsome building on H St. NW the other day that was picked up by PoPville and others and the resulting comments have been amazingly helpful. Thanks everybody.

So I reached out to Dan (Prince of Petworth) to ask if we could post regularly on PoPville during the course of our real estate search. So I’m writing these posts for a larger audience than we typically find at cloverfoodlab.com

I admit, I left this past trip to DC feeling a bit confused. But that’s good, right? Clarity follows the cloud of confusion. Right?

Based in no small part on the comments of the loyal readers of PoPville and here on cloverfoodlab.com. I made a spreadsheet summarizing your input and targeted new sites. I asked Gary, my realtor, to focus on more developed sites this past trip to DC. We looked at a place I didn’t like at all across from the Verizon center. Great location, but no character, step down, no venting. Not the place where DC meets Clover.

We looked at some new developments. This is foreign to me. In Boston we don’t have these.

I’m even learning of stories where landlords are buying out tenants so that they can upgrade to better operators. I’ve never heard of that in Boston. And they seem to take a real interest in creating a good mix of different uses. Overall it’s a really sophisticated approach to development and pretty exciting for an operator like Clover. We love the idea of being a part of a well curated mix of retail that’s constantly picked and pruned.

We visited a development on 14th St. NW near R st. (I added the NW this time, see, I’m learning.) From what I understand this development used to be a homeless shelter that was relocated. I don’t know how that’s seen here. I can’t imagine that being done in Boston, it would be very controversial. Is that why we don’t see new developments in Boston?

There are 2 buildings, one that used to be 3 town houses, and another that’s slightly larger. There is going to be retail at the street and 160 condos above. The building is beautiful. We would be looking at one of the smaller “town houses.” The developer clearly cares about the aesthetics, and making adjustments that are historically accurate. I’m told these are going to regain bay windows, that were removed when the first floors was converted to garages for cars.

The ceilings are high. Light is beautiful. We’re looking at a space that I believe is 1,500 sq ft. We’d be paying a lot, something like $80/ square foot. That comes out to about $330/ day rent, which means we’d need about $3.5k/ day sales, which for us means 600 customers (our prices are low). Any chance of that here?

We had a great cup of coffee at Peregrine across the street (I recognize them from a visit to Union Market, and we know the folks at Counter Culture well, dating back to a visit there in 2010, we visited North Carolina in 2011 to tour Counter Culture’s operation). What do you all think of 14th NW? Would we have a lunch business?

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