Month: March 2014

Which Metro Stations Have Incited Developer Bidding Wars?

New development around Metro stations continues to pick up steam (pun fully intended). Major developers have been putting in bids around the Navy Yard, Grosvenor-Strathmore, and Morgan Blvd (out by FedEx Field) metro stations, and the competition is hot. The Washington Post has the full story below:

Developers pursue projects at three Metro stations

By Jonathan O’ConnellPublished: March 30 

John McDonnell/Washington Post – Access to Metro stations is more valuable than ever to real estate developers. (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Real estate owned by Metro continues to attract a crowd.

The transit agency this month received seven bids from developers interested in building projects on Metro-owned parking lots, bus bays and other properties around three of its stations.
In November, Metro began a search for companies interested in building on properties the transit agency owns at five stations: Brookland, Navy Yard, Fort Totten, Grosvenor-Strathmore and Morgan Boulevard.Metro’s real estate unit extended the deadline for the Brookland project, but received bids for three others and is beginning to evaluate them, according to Stanley Wall, Metro director of real estate and station planning.

Three companies bid for 4.5 acres at the Grosvenor-Strathmore station, where Metro envisions a project with 475 to 600 residential units: MRP Realty, Four Points and Streetscape Partners. MRP and Four Points are mixed-use developers based in the District. Streetscape Partners built the Symphony Park at Strathmore nearby and is developing a Simon outlet center in Clarksburg,

Another site, an air-conditioning facility by the Navy Yard Metro station, is near Nationals Park. It also attracted three proposals from Akridge, Trammell Crow Co. and a team of MRP and a partner, CAS Riegler Cos, according to Wall. Metro has suggested that developers try to acquire private property next door, which would make the air-conditioning property more valuable.

The largest property, a 37-acre parcel at the Morgan Boulevard station, received one proposal from Trammell Crow. Metro is requiring that any project here replace 608 parking spaces as well as provide another 372 spaces that are currently located at the Capitol Heights station, a requirement that could be expensive.

For all the stations, Metro requires that its existing facilities be replaced after development, usually by moving parking spaces or bus bays underground or into structured parking garages.

At another station, Fort Totten, the cost of replacing Metro’s facilities was so great — likely running $10 million to 15 million — that no developers responded. Metro required a minimum of 422 parking spaces, either underground or in a garage. Wall said the idea to develop at Fort Totten would be set aside until the market improves to the point where there is more interest.

“The biggest issue is the size and scope of our facilities there versus the development potential,” he said.

He also cautioned that just because the agency received interest in the other stations didn’t mean those projects would get built. Any deal for the properties must be approved by Metro’s board of directors.

“Just because we received one development proposal for Morgan Boulevard, for instance, doesn’t mean we’ll move forward,” Wall said.

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Can You Guess This Ladder’s Fate?

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See that big wooden ladder lying sadly on its side? I’ve got big plans for it as part of The Great Redecoration of 2014. Any guesses as to what I’m planning to do with it?

(I’ve also got big plans for that entire roof – what you see now are the remnants of my boyfriend’s container vegetable garden, which was assembled without any aesthetic input from me. But that’s a subject for a whole different string of blog posts!)

International Spotlight: Tree-Inspired High-Rise in Montpelier

I thought it would be fun to take a little Friday jaunt over to France to check out this insane-looking high rise. Supposedly, the design is meant to look like a giant tree…I guess I see it? But the really cool thing about this crazy building is that it provides its residents with *tons* of outdoor space. Some units have as many as three balconies! And many are actually designed for outdoor living – and even sleeping – as apparently the citizens of Montpelier prefer to spend the majority of their time outdoors. Check out the full story from Fast Company below:

This Amazing High-Rise Apartment Building Looks Like A Giant Tree

With balconies budding like leaves, no one could complain for lack of outdoor space in this building in France.

Looking a little like a giant white pinecone, the design for this new high-rise apartment building in Montpellier, France, uses strategically placed balconies and shades to give residents the maximum outdoor space without blocking views or taking up too much room on the ground.

“We wanted to preserve the site as much as possible,” says Manal Rachdi, whose architecture firm worked on the project with Sou Fujimoto and Nicolas Laisné Associates. “The idea is to have, in this urban landscape, a continuity from an existing park to our site.”

Inspired by the shape of a tree, the architects used a smaller footprint for the base and “leaves” expanding outward on higher floors. “The tree is really the minimum space we can have on the site, but we have this really big extension with the leaves,” Rachdi explains. “Just as leaves in a tree are naturally arranged to get the maximum sun, we’ve mathematically arranged these balconies and cantilevers to catch and shade the sun.”

One side of the building curves inward along a street, while the opposite side, facing a river, is convex to give apartments the best views. At the base of the building, the architects have designed spaces for offices, a restaurant, a bar, and an art gallery. Everything’s built to run on local renewable energy, and the building also uses passive cooling strategies to reduce the amount of power needed.

Upstairs, each apartment has so many balconies–up to three, depending on the apartment layout a resident chooses–that a unit is made up of about half outdoor space. There’s even a balcony in the bedroom with enough room to sleep on when the weather’s warm.

“We discovered that in this city, people live outside,” Rachdi says. “So we came up with the idea to have an interior apartment but also have a big surface outside–about 30 square meters. We’re trying to end the break that is between outside and inside with the architecture of this building.”

The Happiest and Unhappiest Jobs in America

This article first came out soon after I had left my law firm to get into real estate, and I couldn’t help but feel that it was a sign from the universe that I had made the right choice. I mean come on, it has to be more than just a coincidence that the “unhappiest” job in America is the exact position I had just left, and the “happiest” one is the one I had recently embraced! The article resurfaced on my Facebook feed recently, and I wanted to post it if for no other reason than to keep a record of it for posterity. Enjoy!

 

The Happiest And Unhappiest Jobs In America

CareerBliss compiled a list of the 10 happiest jobs based on analysis from more than 65,000 employee-generated reviews in 2012. Employees all over the country were asked to evaluate ten factors that affect workplace happiness. Those include one’s relationship with the boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks, and control over the work one does on a daily basis.

They evaluated each factor on a five-point scale and also indicated how important it was to their overall happiness. The numbers were combined to find an average rating of overall employee happiness for each respondent, and then sorted by job title to find which occupations had the happiest workers. A minimum of 50 employee reviews was required to be considered for CareerBliss’ 10 Happiest Jobs in America, and executive level jobs, like chief executive, were excluded from the study.

“It is vital to understand how employees in these positions feel about their work environment,” says Heidi Golledge, chief executive of CareerBliss. “Whether you are someone looking to transition into one of these careers, or are currently in one of these jobs, this can help arm you with the information needed to truly understand the rewards and challenges. In addition, any employer managing people in these types of positions can gauge how their employees may feel, and can adjust elements to help create happier work environments.”

The happiest employees of all aren’t kindergarten teachers or veterinarians. They’re real estate agents. Professionals with this job title are typically responsible for renting, buying, or selling property for clients. According to the BLS, they study property listings, interview prospective clients, accompany clients to property site, discuss conditions of sale, and draw up real estate contracts. They make about $51,170 per year, on average—but top earning real estate agents rake in over $92,000.

With an index score of 4.26, real estate agents said they are more than satisfied with the control they have over the work they do on a daily basis. They’re also fairly content with their bosses.

“Real estate agents have definitely weathered quite a financial storm over the past few years but right now rates are between 2% and 3% and inventory is low, making it a real estate agents dream as new homes hit the market and are getting multiple offers in the first week,” Golledge says. “Right now, it is a seller’s market so the real estate agent’s cost of advertising and marketing is very low and commissions are high. Happy times.”

The second most blissful job is senior quality assurance engineer, which earned an index score of 4.23. Professionals with this job title are typically involved in the entire software development process to ensure the quality of the final product. This can include processes such as requirements gathering and documentation, source code control, code review, change management, configuration management, release management, and the actual testing of the software, explains Matt Miller, chief technology officer at CareerBliss.

These professionals “typically make between $85,000 and $100,000 a year in salary and are the gatekeepers for releasing high quality software products,” Miller adds. Organizations generally will not allow software to be released until it has been fully tested and approved by their software quality assurance group, he adds.

Golledge says the job requires long hours and intense demands–however, senior quality assurance engineers feel rewarded at work, “as they are typically the last stop before software goes live and correctly feel that they are an integral part of the job being done at the company.”

In Pictures: The Happiest And Unhappiest Jobs In America

Senior sales representative is the third happiest job in America, according to CareerBliss data. The profession scored a 4.19. Employees in this job are most content with the amount of control they have over the work they do, and their daily tasks.

“Being able to control what you do and how much money you make are key happiness factors,” Golledge explains. “Sales jobs can often be flexible and provide a rewarding environment, where pay structure is based off of results. For many in this field who receive bonuses and/or commission compensation for positive results can actually boost overall happiness as seen in our most recent data.  Even more important is the work that they are doing. The economy is improving make sales success achievable and closing a deal is always a positive motivator for extroverts who choose sales careers.”

Construction superintendant and senior application developer round out the top five happiest jobs in America, with index scores of 4.10 and 4.08, respectively.

In Pictures: The Happiest And Unhappiest Jobs In America

Using the same methodology, CareerBliss also compiled a gloomier list: The Unhappiest Jobs in America.

If you happen to be a customer service associate, marketing coordinator or legal assistant and you’re constantly down in the dumps—you’re not alone.

These are three of the nation’s unhappiest professions, according to CareerBliss.

But associate attorney is the unhappiest of all, with an index score of 2.89 out of 5.

“Associate attorneys stated they felt most unhappy with their company culture,” Golledge says. “In many cases, law firms are conducted in a structured environment that is heavily centered on billable hours. It may take several years for an associate attorney to rise to the rank of partner. People in this position rated the way they work and the rewards they receive lower than any other industry.”

The second and third unhappiest jobs are customer service associate and clerk. They earned scores of 3.16 and 3.18, respectively. People in both of these jobs cite growth opportunities and workplace culture as the two things they are most dissatisfied with.

“The lack of growth opportunities was a huge factor for customer service associates,” Golledge says. “For many people in this position, not having a clear path to their next position within their current company impacted their overall happiness.”

Surprises on this year’s list: Teachers and nurses.

“[We have] found through our research that teachers appear to be quite happy with their work and their co-workers. However, the rewards for their work, lack of support, and lack of opportunities to be promoted counteract many of the good parts of the job,” she says. “Nurses, on the other hand, have more issues with the culture of their workplaces, the people they work with, and the person they work for. The factors driving the unhappiness tell different stories for these two jobs.”

Click here to see the 10 happiest and 10 unhappiest jobs.

 

24 Things Only a True Washingtonian Knows

This amusing list by Brett Nolan at Thought Catalog has been circulating all week, and I think it’s worth sharing with you guys. You may not agree with everything on the list – I certainly don’t – but you’re bound to get a chuckle or two out of it. I’m currently working on my own list…we’ll see how the two compare when I get around to publishing mine. Meanwhile, enjoy!

1. Snow > the federal government.

2. Coming from Boston, this place and its people are pretty damn friendly.

3. Coming from anywhere else, they’re rude as hell.

4. The Washington Monument looks better covered in scaffolding.

5. You’re never the smartest person in the room (and you don’t want to be).

6. People will ask you what you do for a living before asking how you’re doing.

7. If it weren’t for happy hour, I couldn’t afford to live here.

8. Seriously, BOGO for alcohol is the best.

9. Competitive karaoke is a thing, and it’s awesome.

10. Donald Rumsfeld uses the self-checkout at CVS. He goes to the one by my office.

10b. (That is considered name-dropping in DC.)

11. Work hard, brunch harder.

12. Some French asshole put rotaries or traffic circles or whatever the hell they’re called all over the place. Worst. Idea. Ever.

13. Nonprofits are a business. Their product hopefully helps others, but it’s not a bunch of absentminded idealists in a room talking out of their ass.

14. It’s the gayest city in America. No, really.

15. Chinatown should just be called China Street or China Alley. Putting Chinese lettering on a Walgreens and a Chipotle doesn’t make a Chinatown.

16. There’s a weird rivalry between the people of New York City and DC. It’s stronger than the Yankees and the Red Sox.

17. House of Cards is filmed mostly in Baltimore.

18. The metro looks nothing like it does in Scandal.

19. The humidity in the summer can make it feel like the devil is Frenching you everywhere.

20. In addition to the Smithsonian and all of the historical landmarks, there’s a wax museum that has a bunch of presidents and celebrities you can grope.

21. Heavyset tourists will take Segway tours around the monuments. God bless America.

22. Bikers will ignore bike lanes and traffic laws. They’re like honey badgers on two wheels just not giving any fucks.

23. If you’re using the escalators in the metro, walk on the left side and stand on the right. I’m looking at you, interns and conference-goers.

24. Washington, DC isn’t broken. Congress is. There are half a million people in this town who work very hard for nonprofits, private businesses, and government agencies. They support their families and great causes. They’re not broken. The people you elect and send here are. TC mark

Hello, Neighbor!

Ok, so I absolutely love this. A woman who has lived in Ledroit Park for over a decade has launched a campaign to “bring back the ‘neighbor’ to our neighborhood.” She’s tired of the averted eyes and awkward responses she gets when she simply says “hi” to people she passes on the sidewalk, and is determined to foster a more neighborly culture in her little hood. She’s already got a number of supporters, and I can’t wait to see how effective her efforts turn out to be. I couldn’t agree with her more – one of things I love most about living on the the Hill is how well I know my neighbors and how friendly everyone is! Back when I lived in NW, especially when I lived in multi-unit/high rise buildings, that neighborly spirit was nowhere to be found. I’m thrilled to see that folks are taking a proactive approach to fostering a more neighborly culture in DC.

Here’s the full story from DCist:

LeDroit Park Resident Starts Campaign To Bring “Hi” Back To Her Neighborhood

By Sarah Anne Hughes

ledroitparkronnier.jpg
Photo by Ronnie R.

 

How many times did you say “hello” to someone you passed on the sidewalk this morning? Did anyone say that five-letter word to you?

One D.C. resident thinks her neighborhood is lacking in this most neighborly convention and wants to change that through a campaign that encourages people to simply say “hi” to one another. From a post on the Bloomingdale neighborhood blog:

Spring has sprung – isn’t this a good time to say “hi” to your neighbor? Unfortunately, it seems, many of our neighbors have recently moved from places where saying “hello” on the street was not the custom. They look at you strangely, when you say “hi.” Or they avert their eyes. That makes me sad! One of the things we loved most about Ledroit Park and Bloomingdale when we moved here was that everyone said “hello”!But all is not lost.

I am looking for a few volunteers who want to bring back the “neighbor” to our neighborhood. I am thinking of a small behavior change communications campaign. We’ll make flyers! We’ll walk the streets, smiling! We’ll have fun!

Maria Fyodorova, the nine-year resident of LeDroit Park behind the idea, said via email that the campaign didn’t come from one incident. “I have just seen the number of neighborly “hellos” slowly diminish over the last two years,” she said.

And I am a very “hello-ish” neighbor and am out and about a lot — walking my dogs, walking to yoga, walking to the store, walking with my daughter, walking to bus. (We don’t have a car!) … I also work on behavior change communication campaigns professionally — this issue seemed like a good candidate for such an approach. The premise is that MOST people want to feel like they are part of a community and would be willing to say “hi” if they knew that it was okay, accepted and even expected. It is really about maintaining our neighborhood culture, but we shouldn’t assume everyone is coming from a similar experience.

Fyodorova, who’s lived in D.C. since 1991, says she “really [believes] that saying “hi” is the first step toward building a relationship with your neighbors and then toward building a community.”

“My block is really tight,” she continued. “Many of us will sit on our stoops and chat, we borrow sugar from each other, we walk each others’ dogs, etc. I really feel like I can count on my neighbors — they’ve got my back. And it all started with a simple ‘hi.'”

Since the post was put up on Sunday, Fyodorova says she’s gotten about a dozen volunteers “and a few ‘way to go’ notes.” She plans to develop a set of materials, including flyers, “that any community can easily pick up and tailor for their own use.” When asked if any detractors have contacted her, she said they hadn’t: “Who could criticize saying ‘hi’?”

 

First Look: The New Trader Joe’s at 14th & U

The brand new Trader Joe’s at 14th and U Street opened last weekend, and I couldn’t be more thrilled! I have to say, I really couldn’t visualize a TJ’s – complete with underground parking – going in at that intersection, but they’ve really pulled it off beautifully. The aisles are MUCH roomier than the Foggy Bottom TJ’s, the wine section is quite substantial, and the cashiers are super-speedy (in typical TJ’s fashion.)  Also, the decor pays homage to U Street’s musical history through some great murals and decorative touches – keep an eye out for them in the photos below. I saw all of my favorite TJ’s goodies and sections, including the sample section (which was featuring some super tasty meatballs on my visit.) Currently, they’re open 7 days a week from 9am-10pm, but I’m told they’re discussing the possibility of opening at 8am. Makes sense to me – I’m sure plenty of folks in the area would appreciate being able to hop in there before going to work.

Take a look inside!
Click here to see listings near the new Trader Joe’s at 14th and U.

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Click here to see listings near the new Trader Joe’s at 14th and U.