Novo Properties has received unanimous approval from the Alexandria City Council and Alexandria Planning Commission to develop a new apartment project along Route 1 in Old Town.
The multifamily investor, developer and manager out of Washington, D.C. said it plans to break ground early next year on The Grayson, a 119-unit apartment complex with street-level retail. The development is named after Sarah Gray, an African American educator in Alexandria during the late 1800s and an inductee into the Library of Virginia’s Virginia Women in History program.
Novo paid $9.25 million last July to acquire a stake in the 1970s-vintage retail complex at 1200 N. Henry St. from Avanti Holdings Group, with the venture teaming up to co-develop the new project. Located just north of the Braddock Road Metro station, the development has been drawn up to incorporate reprogrammed ground floor retail space as well as a daycare that has been redesigned to improve its layout and accessibility. Novo is exploring retail brokerage firms at this time.
“There’s a huge unmet demand for daycare in this submarket and even more now as spacing needs are changing due to COVID-19,” Novo Partner Neil Goradia said in a statement. Novo said the design changes made to the daycare and retail spaces allowed it to capture additional residential density after initially proposing a development with 115 units.
Amazon’s new home in Crystal City is expected to be a huge boon for neighboring Alexandria, where historic Old Town and the transforming Potomac Y
ard area offer potential Amazon employees the best of both worlds: a small town, suburban escape, and a fast-paced, Metro-accessible urban community, according CoStar’s latest report on the submarket. Coupled with the arrival of Virginia Tech’s $1 billion Innovation Campus in Potomac Yard, Novo said it will look to capture demand from the more cost-conscious, suburban-type renters expected to arrive with the rollout of the two campuses.
“The impact from the entry of these large employers is creating a demand for tiered apartment pricing,” Goradia said. “Not every apartment dweller will want to pay up to live in National Landing or Potomac Yards and can live a few Metro stops away for a more affordable rent and we want to capture that demand.”
Construction on the project is expected to be completed in 2022.
Nearly 100 new residences could come to Old Town, replacing a vacant building.
701 N Henry St.
Avanti, a development company, is requesting a series of changes in zoning, density and more to demolish the Alexandria Lighting & Supply building and build a 5-story multi-family building with 94 residential units, underground parking and retail space on the ground floor. The project could go before City Council for approval in early July.
Alexandria Lighting & Supply, which has been in business for more than half a century, would move to a new location.
The project would include undergrounding utilities.
At least seven of the units would be affordable housing. The residences could be rentals or condominiums.
The 0.75 acre site is at the corner of Wythe Street and North Henry Street.
A big change is coming to a triangular piece of land in Alexandria that hasn’t changed much at all in more than 70 years.
The 0.8-acre site at 1200 N. Henry St., less than a half mile north of the Braddock Road Metro station, was built up with one- and two-story industrial buildings in 1945, according to an Alexandria staff report. The proposal slated for review by the city’s Planning Commission on Tuesday would replace those uses with a 115-unit multifamily building — including 11 affordable units — a 10,000-square-foot day care center, ground-floor retail and 137 underground parking spaces.
The applicant, 1200 N. Henry Street LLC, is an entity of Avanti Holdings Group. Alexandria-based Avanti, led by principals Teddy Kim (he of The People’s Drug and Chop Shop Taco), Keinan Ashkenaziand Greg Salvaggio, has largely tackled smaller warehouse-to-office conversions and retail projects to this point. This will be its largest endeavor to date.
Designed by Davis Carter Scott Ltd., the seven-story building has a triangular footprint and rises to a maximum height of 85 feet along the western edge, where it is closest to the Braddock Gateway campus and a planned extension of North Fayette Street. A 20-foot high retail podium would front Route 1.
The site, where North Henry and North Patrick streets begin, is just south of the Route 1 bridge carrying traffic toward Potomac Yard. It is really the first thing drivers see as they come south toward Old Town. City planners, who recommend approval, say the proposed development offers “high-quality architectural design with a signature gateway element” at its northern entrance, a publicly accessible plaza, underground utilities and a $20,000 contribution to Alexandria’s Capital Bike Share Fund.
Cathy Puskar with Walsh Colucci Lubeley & Walsh PC is the LLC’s land use attorney.
Teddy Kim saw early potential in the Parker-Gray neighborhood. The Alexandria native had graduated from Virginia Tech University with a degree in urban planning when in 2004 he initiated the process to buy a house in the neighborhood that was for sale by owner.
Kim, who was working in government contracting at the time and making about $30,000 a year, quickly ran into problems with securing financing. After his initial lender fell through, he turned to local mortgage broker Clay Greenway.
The process of buying the house, in the end, took months, but it piqued a lasting interest for Kim in real estate.
“I was able to fix the house up, pull out some equity and buy some new houses. That was the start of everything,” Kim said. “Within 12 months, I was onto my first commercial building.”
Kim set his sights on the former Electro Steam Generator Corp. building at 1000 Bernard St. He transformed it into office space and, in the process, found a passion for redeveloping commercial buildings.
“With the residential stuff, it wasn’t so much a passion then because I wasn’t really transforming anything,” Kim said. “The reason I started with residential was because of the low barrier to entry. You can get a lot more financing on a residential asset than a commercial asset. When I went to buy the warehouse, I designed it [and] I built it.”
Kim used some of the building’s existing features in the renovation and pulled design inspiration from his own background, including his grandfather’s Naval history. For example, on the building’s exterior he used metal in a gray reminiscent of Navy Destroyers and nautical elements like cable and natural wood for finishing touches.
Nearly 15 years after buying his first property, Kim’s company, Avanti Holdings, owns
several commercial properties in Alexandria, including multi-use space Madison Collective, which signed tenants tattoo studio Marlowe Ink and the soon-to-open Chop Shop Taco, Zweet Sport and Grateful Kitchen Co., at 727 N. Henry St.
Kim is also involved with a number of restaurant projects. Along with Chad Sparrow, Justin Sparrow and Larry Walston, Kim was part of the founding team at Mason Social, which opened in 2015. He’s since left that restaurant, but recently worked with another team to open quick service restaurant and bar The People’s Drug in the former Bittersweet Catering location.
His strategy is infill development, or developing vacant properties within already highly developed areas. He’s had extra incentive to redevelop Alexandria, where he has a vested interest. Kim was born and raised in the city, and opted to return after college to build a career. It’s where he plans to continue to invest.
“As you see D.C. really coming into this high value, a lot of people are moving into the city from other states and cities and into this area as a whole,” Kim said. “Alexandria is one of the best cities in the country.”
Kim was raised in Alexandria during a time when the city wasn’t necessarily a hot real estate market.
He grew up with his grandparents near Fort Ward Park in the 1980s and has memories of playing with neighborhood friends until the sun set.
Meanwhile, the area hadn’t hit its stride just yet.
“In the 80s, D.C. was still the murder capital of the world,” Kim said. “There wasn’t a lot going on. It was kind of the wild, wild west in Old Town and in Alexandria, in general.”
He attended several local schools, starting with what’s now the Basilica School of St. Mary’s and then moving to Alexandria City Public Schools, including Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, George Washington Middle School, Minnie Howard and, finally, T.C. Williams, from which he graduated.
As a student at T.C., Kim studied computer science and even worked at Electro Steam Generator Corp., the building he would go on to buy, for a time. Kim initially wanted to be an architect, but an advisor at T.C. convinced him to pursue computer science instead.
He headed to Virginia Tech with the intention of studying that, but didn’t engage with the classes or material. He made the switch to urban planning, which he said married his creative and analytical side.
After graduating from Virginia Tech, Kim moved back to his hometown during a time when the region was doing well economically.
“I started to see D.C. picking up. … A lot of the principles I was learning [while studying urban planning] dealt with things like revitalizing the waterfront. I could see stuff like that happening, so it was really exciting. I decided to stay here,” Kim said.
He learned about real estate by researching on the internet and turning to Greenway for mentoring and advice. Since helping him buy his house on Pendleton Street, Greenway has watched Kim grow.
“He was a young kid who had never purchased anything. He didn’t really understand the whole process of it. Back then … you met face-to-face when you did an application. We hit it off. He was really genuine and really eager to know everything on how mortgages
worked, what the process was,” Greenway said.
All these years later, Greenway said he isn’t surprised that Kim has successfully built a real estate portfolio of his own.
“There’s so many people I talk to that never get [it] or they get it, but they never act on it,” Greenway said. “That’s one of the things I like about Teddy – he’s so driven and he goes for it, which is what it takes.”
Many of Kim’s biggest real estate opportunities have come together as a result of long-running relationships and a lot of persistence.
Mason Social came about in that way, over frequent conversations with the owner of 728 N. Henry St. Kim had seen the building – which had long hosted frequent T.C. haunt Esmeralda – become vacant, and saw potential for a neighborhood spot. Once he got in contact with the building’s colorful proprietor, he would visit him at 700 S. Patrick St. frequently – sometimes twice a week – and talk to him about his life, never hesitating to ask about the building at the end of the conversation.
“I ended up hearing about his life over a two-year period and going to this gas
station on a regular basis of about twice a week,” Kim said. “We became friends. I would always ask him about the restaurant and he would always say ‘Come back when you have time.’”
While conversations with the owner remained ongoing, he reconnected with an old school friend, Chad Sparrow, who had also seen potential in the building. They decided to pursue it together, bringing on Sparrow’s brother, Justin, and Larry Walston. Once they opened in
2015, the accolades followed.
“The feedback from the community was great. We had people coming in saying that they moved into the Belle Pre because of Mason Social,” Kim said. “They had come from other markets like Clarendon and they were coming to a place where they appreciated something cozy, something where it’s your neighborhood spot.”
Kim exited that partnership when he decided to focus on quick service restaurant models, a category into which the recently opened People’s Drug fits. That project was also done with old friends, Seth McClelland and Ian McGrath.
“We remembered the joys of eating at the counter at [local pharmacy] The People’s Drug and places like G.C. Murphy’s at Bradlee,” Kim said. “As a kid, I remember biking there with the cards in your spokes at about 6 or 7 [p.m.] and it would be a group of five of us from the neighborhood, sitting at the counter and buying these fake candy cigarettes and a grilled cheese sandwich.”
Kim, McClelland and McGrath brought those memories and the Americana trend to The People’s Drug, which features American-inspired sandwiches and cocktails. Kim said the space, which is less than 1,000 square feet, perfectly houses the concept. Chop Shop Taco, which will open as part of Madison Collective on Henry Street, will fit into the same model as The People’s Drug.
It’s being opened in collaboration with Kim’s college friend, Kris Garcia, and chef Ed McIntosh. The restaurant’s name pays homage to one of the building’s former occupants, a “chop shop” for stolen cars.
That speaks to Kim’s strategy, which involves preserving and often enhancing a building’s historic features, while transforming it into something new.
“We’re not going to hide much of the original structure – we’re going to honor it,” Kim said.
James Marlowe, owner of Marlowe Ink at Madison Collective, said that’s something he liked
about working with Kim.
“He’s a local and is very interested in the history all over Alexandria. That was really appealing to me, but, at the same time, he wants to move forward and bring a little bit of new life, without changing everything. It’s not like he wants to tear everything down, obviously,” Marlowe said. “This is a classic building – it’s keeping that element.”
Kim isn’t someone who holds on to a building just to hold on to it – he’s always thinking about profiting from the value he provides.
“I’m always thinking about the value position I’m sitting at. In some instances, the value is capital. I’m trying to get to that place, but I’m not there yet. My value is the sweat poured into the transformation,” Kim said.
“Typically, what I like to do, until I get to where capital is my value, is getting an asset that needs some type of re-working, whether it’s tenants, construction, rezoning. I put my value into it that way and then move on to the next project. Once I get the asset where it is something that I think is the peak for the time, I decide to move on and exit to the next project.”
Kim’s company, Avanti Holdings, is balancing multiple commercial projects, including the building the company is housed in at 1605 King St.
Avanti Holdings’ logo at the investment group’s headquarters at 1605 King St., a building the company owns (Photo Credit: Mae Hunt)
The company, founded by Kim, Keinan Ashkenazi and Greg Salvaggio, started with a $2 million warehouse on Calvert Avenue that the three decided to go in on together.
They decided to make their partnership official and incorporate the company, named after the main chairlift in Aspen and after the Italian word meaning “to move forward.” Ashkenazi called Kim the brains behind the real estate.
“He has the uncanny ability to kind of weed through a lot of the details and nonsense and other things on a real estate deal that’s presented to us and very quickly analyze whether it’s a good deal or not,” he said. “… He does it with people that have been in the industry 20 years longer than him and he’s a lot sharper than 99 percent of them.”
At the moment, the company’s investments are focused within the city limits. Ashkenazi said that’s by design.
“Most of what we try to do is really improve the fabric of the city in areas that maybe just are kind of stale and old. We try to bring some vibrancy and interesting tenants,” Ashkenazi said. “We won’t just let anyone be a tenant. We try to get better, more interesting, more vibrant [tenants]. Rather than just another nail salon, we try to get something that’s a little more interesting for the growth of Alexandria.”
Kim is motivated to focus on local investments both because he knows the city well and because he keeps seeing the potential that prompted him to return after college.
“Being born and raised here is really helpful. And living within five blocks of the majority of our projects is very helpful. Hearing and knowing what the community needs is helpful,” Kim said. “Right now, as we continue to grow, we still see a lot of opportunity here in Alexandria.”
Kim said the city is poised, more now than ever, to grow.
“The fact that Old Town, as a generalization, has been slow to adopt is because these industrial areas weren’t developed until now,” Kim said. “I understand not wanting to change much of King Street when you have a building from the 1700s, but, in those areas where you have a warehouse from 1960, that’s a great opportunity to do something.”
Block by block, the Parker Grey neighborhood continues to receive new residents. The latest result of recent growth within the thriving community: The Madison Collective, a development playing host to several businesses within one block. The development, created by Avanti Holdings, is slated to open this summer at 1008 Madison St., adjacent to the corner of North Henry Street. And its offerings will be as diverse as the neighborhood it calls home: A taco shop, a juice bar, a fitness gym and a tattoo parlor will all be opening within the coming months. “What we’ve been trying to do for a long time is to keep Alexandria current, to keep it in line with other options in the DC area,” said Madison Collective principal owner Teddy Kim. “… Alexandria is quickly becoming more known as something that’s a little different than the other pockets (such as Georgetown or the D.C. Wharf).” Kim, a resident of Parker Grey, is not new to the area’s business scene: He and his business partners are the founders of nearby Mason Social. And between Mason Social, Lost Dog Café, the Solidcore gym and Sugar Shack, the new Madison Collective won’t be alone in its quest to draw neighbors in — but its offerings are different from what’s currently available, as well. Chop Shop Taco, its name an homage to the automotive chop shop that sat on the development’s land for so long, will offer tacos, tortas and other Latin-American-inspired food for lunch and dinner. Zweet Sport will help diners work off their meals with a cycling studio and fitness space. Grateful Kitchen will offer an array of juice and coffee via a walk-up window, and James Marlowe of Marlowe Ink is bringing his tattoo artistry to Parker Grey in a new studio. “It’s an interesting mix,” said Judy Noritake, president of the nearby Braddock Metro Citizens’ Coalition. “I think that Avanti and Teddy Kim … has a real understanding of who lives in the neighborhood and where the neighborhood should be going from a retail standpoint.” Madison Collective’s storefronts will open this summer, some perhaps ahead of others. And Kim says he’s looking forward to the impact the development will make within the neighborhood and the city. “I’m most excited about (Madison Collective’s) diversity,” Kim said. “I think that’s representative of the diversity of Alexandria.”
Avanti Holdings announced their latest development in Alexandria. Madison Collectivewill open this summer. Located in the heart of Parker-Gray neighborhood at 1008 Madison Street, just off N. Henry Street, Madison Collective will be home to Chop Shop Taco, Marlowe Ink, The Waiting Room, Grateful Kitchen Co, and Zweet Sport.
Born and raised in Alexandria, Avanti principal Teddy Kim has long dreamt of bringing locally owned businesses to the neighborhoods surrounding King Street. Once a partner in, and an instrumental part of opening, Mason Social, Kim hopes to serve the growing community of Parker-Gray. Formerly a used car lot and automobile chop shop, the space where Madison Collective now sits will be put to good use.
Chop Shop Taco A partnership between Avanti Holdings, Kris Garcia and Chef Ed McIntosh of Tortilladora, Chop Shop Taco will offer an ever rotating menu of tacos, tortas and snacks influenced by the season, childhood nostalgia and community. Chef McIntosh plans to use premium ingredients and “off the spit” chopped meats including Al Pastor, Chicken, Pork Belly and Brisket, all in a casual setting. Converted from an actual automobile chop shop, the restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner.
Marlowe Ink and The Waiting Room With an artistic atmosphere and high energy tattooing, Marlowe Ink at Madison Collective is the newest location belonging to beloved tattooer, James Marlowe. Marlowe has been tattooing for approximately 30 years, having opened his first location, Marlowe Ink, in Fairfax, VA 15 years ago. The new Alexandria location will be the home base of tattooers Danny Zelsman and Jen White, with guest spots from Hayden Zelsman, Anya Gladun, Phil Watkins, and many out of town names.
The Waiting Room is a neighborhood gathering space in the middle of Madison Collective, below Marlowe Ink. Designed to be a place where people can wait for a reservation at Chop Shop, host events and parties, or meet up with a friend before taking a gym class, the refurbished warehouse space will be decorated with art curated by Kari of Artbot.
Zweet Sport Zweet Sport Total Fitness encompasses two unique, elite fitness studios under the same roof: a 35 bike cycling room and small group fitness/personal training space to be used for one-on-one or semi-private sweat sessions. Zweet Sport Total Fitness is a boutique fitness studio that takes these top-notch disciplines and combines them so that you are able to have one membership and a common community while also enjoying a customized experience. This is the second venture for the owners of Zweet Sport Total Fitness, who also operate a hot yoga school nearby.
Grateful Kitchen Co. Next to Zweet Sport will be Grateful Kitchen Co. a standing room only juice bar with a walk-up window serving made to order juice and espresso to be enjoyed outside, on the go, or inside at the counters. Similar to a European coffee bar, Grateful Kitchen Co’s menu will be centered around health and the idea of food as medicine. The intention is to create food and drink that not only tastes good but serves a purpose for the body. Many of the options will be plant-based.
After signing a General Services Administration lease at its Braddock Metro Center office complex in July, WashREIT is cashing out.
WashREIT signed a letter of intent this month to sell the 356K SF office complex, CEO Paul McDermott announced on the company’s Q3 earnings call Friday morning. He did not disclose the buyer or price, but said it expects the deal to close during the fourth quarter.
McDermott said the sale continues WashREIT’s strategy of selling out of the suburban office market and focusing on quality buildings in D.C.’s urban core. The CEO said the capital earned from the sale of Braddock Metro Center will go toward its recent $135M acquisition of Watergate 600. It plans to launch extensive renovations on the property, a 309K SF piece of the famed six-building Watergate mixed-use complex.
WashREIT acquired the four-building Braddock Metro Center complex in 2011 for $101M. It faced a large vacancy this year with one of its anchor tenants, Engility, leaving 134K SF when its lease expired in September to consolidate into other locations. The landlord got a win in July when it landed a new federal government tenant, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, for 131K SF.
The deal also fits with the REIT’s strategy of limiting its exposure to large government leases and instead filling its buildings with small to midsize private sector tenants, McDermott said.
The property at 1310-1340 Braddock Place sits just steps from the Braddock Metro station, an area with loads of new development in its pipeline. Jaguar Development got approval in July for a 258-unit mixed-use building, the second phase of its Braddock Gateway development. Jaguar sold the parcel for the project’s first phase in 2011 to Trammell Crow, which built a 15-story, 270-unit residential building that is expected to deliver this year.
The project’s third phase would add a 317K SF mixed-use building with 250 to 300 units and 8K SF of retail. Avanti Holdings Group is planning a 100K SF development, likely multifamily or hospitality, on a a nearby site.
Also on Friday’s earnings call, McDermott announced the sale of the 212-unit Walker House Apartments in Gaithersburg for $32.2M. He said that capital would also be reallocated to 600 Watergate.
Rock Creek partnered with Avanti Holdings Group LLC last month to acquire 5904 Richmond Highway for $8.3 million from an affiliate of retired property owner Bill Fetch. The acquisition includes a 78,000-square-foot office building that is about 65 percent leased and recently underwent a $1 million renovation. KLNB Principal Joshua Simon, who represented the buyers in the deal, said Rock Creek and Avanti will focus in the near term on boosting the building’s occupancy but, on a second track, will explore pursuing a larger redevelopment of more than 1 million square feet.
The property is one of several nodes along Richmond Highway that Fairfax County has identified in a comprehensive plan for higher density development, Simon said. Rock Creek and Avanti would only be able to unlock that potential, he noted, by teaming up with the owner of the adjacent Ourisman Chrysler Jeep Dodge of Alexandria at 5900 Richmond Highway.
“You can’t do anything with it by itself, so this comprehensive plan essentially says our site, linked up with Ourisman, would unlock this very, very great amount of development potential,” Simon said, adding the two parties have had informal talks but have not yet reached the point of formal negotiations. “They bought it with the intent of leasing up the remaining vacancy, as a straight office play, but there definitely is an open eye to whatever is possible there.”
Fetch retained Gates Hudson & Associates to market the site, which started out at a higher asking price of around $13 million but came down to its ultimate sale price of around $106 per square foot.
Rock Creek and Avanti have also retained KLNB to handle leasing for the property, and Simon said he believes the office building is positioned in the near term to benefit from factors including WashREIT’s plans to add 550 units to the 1,222-unit Riverside complex.
Simon said he already had discussions with a handful of prospective tenants weighing relocations from nearby Old Town Alexandria, where the office rental rate hovers at about $10 per square foot higher than the roughly $23-$24-per-square-foot range KLNB is shooing for at 5904 Richmond Highway.
KLNB, a Maryland-based real estate brokerage firm, has announced the sale of 5904 Richmond Highway, a 78,000-square-foot office building in Fairfax County, for $8.3 million.
Joshua Simon, principal at KLNB, represented the buyer — a joint venture of Rock Creek Property Group and Avanti Holdings Group, LLC — and has also been retained to handle leasing of the building. The property sold on Sept. 8 for nearly $106 per square foot.
The structure is a newly renovated office building in Fairfax’s Huntington submarket with suites ranging from 1,800 to 15,780 square feet. The building has access to Route 1, Old Town Alexandria and National Harbor. It’s within walking distance to the Huntington Metro Station and Mount Vernon Trail.
In a statement, Simon described the Huntington area as “an untapped submarket with great potential and high expected future density.
As companies continue to look for lower lease rates compared to Old Town Alexandria, they will immediately see value in Huntington thanks to its prime location and anticipated growth.”
5904 Richmond Highway is currently 65 percent leased, with a remaining five office suites available.
KLNB’s offices are located in Towson and Columbia, Md.; Washington, D.C.; and Dulles and Tysons, Va.
The high-rise office building located at 5904 Richmond Highway was sold in early September for $8.3 million, according to a press release from KLNB, the real estate firm that brokered the deal.
The 78,000 square-foot building is now owned by Rock Creek Property Group and Avanti Holdings Group, LLC.
The press release noted that the property had recently been renovated and was acquired for a “favorable price.” Fairfax County property records show the assessed value for 5904 Richmond Highway in 2016 was $13 million.
“We are incredibly in tune with the Huntington market and it’s clear that it is an untapped submarket with great potential and high expected future density,” KLNB’s Joshua Simon, who represented the buyer, said in the release. “As companies continue to look for lower lease rates compared to Old Town Alexandria, they will immediately see value in Huntington thanks to its prime location and anticipated growth.”
Some of that anticipated growth includes a plan to greatly expand the adjacent Riverside Apartments complex. That proposal, which is scheduled to before the Fairfax County Planning Commission next week, calls for five new buildings with nearly 800 units to be added to the Riverside complex, which already contains more than 1,200 units in three buildings.
5904 Richmond Highway actually sits far off of Route 1, behind the Great American Steak & Buffet and Ourisman car dealership. Office space in the building ranges between 1,800 to 15,780 square feet, and the building is currently 65 percent leased, the KLNB release said. Among the businesses currently located there are Curb (formerly known as Taxi Magic).