Friday, December 16, 2016

#1 Story of 2016: Developers Plan to Build Colossal 17 Acre Project in Reston

Four developers are teaming up to turn a 17.5-acre tangle of office buildings and parking lots at Wiehle Avenue and Sunset Hills Road into more than 1 million square feet of multifamily residential, as well as significant office and retail space.

Representatives from JBG/1831 Wiehle LLC, Bethesda’s EYA Development and The Chevy Chase Land Company gave a look at the development plan to the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee on Monday night.

The plan involves taking six parcels of land from 1831 Wiehle Avenue — the office building across Wiehle from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station — several blocks east to Michael Faraday Drive.

In addition to 1831 Wiehle, the plan will include redevelopment of 1861 Wiehle, 1860 Michael Faraday and 1840 Michael Faraday.

“We can see a large piece of property and a big opportunity at the Wiehle Metro,” said land use lawyer Brian Winterhalter, who is working with the applicants. “It is smack dab in between the W&OD Trail and the Silver Line. We see it as “the gateway to Reston.”

Bailey Edelson, JBG Vice President of Development, said the principals of the plan include high quality design; pedestrian and bike connectivity; urban parks and recreation; strategic office and mix of uses; and public art.

The development will be about 78 percent residential, with the remaining retail and commercial.

Some of the planned features closest to the Metro include:

•  A multifamily building for independent senior living along Sunset Hills Road.
•  Two five-story multifamily buildings
•  An 11-story office building at Wiehle Avenue and the Dulles Toll Road

On the East side of the development, the plan calls for:

•  A 200-unit multifamily building
•  Condo Flats and three-story condo townhouses above retail stores
•  A neighborhood of 60 more traditional townhomes
•  Underground parking
•  The retail street will be an extension of Reston Station Boulevard
•  Five park areas, including a central park (2.3 acres total open space)

Overall, the development will have 1.2 million square feet of residential (for about 1,300-1,500 estimated residents); 230,000 square feet of office; and 250,000 square feet of retail (with a plan to amend some of the retail into housing if the market forces are not there later).

The developers gave a look at the planned urban street grid, as well as pedestrian and car connectivity with the Metro station. It has not yet looked at traffic impact at that intersection, which is already one of the busiest in Reston.

JBG has talked to Marymount University and Northern Virginia Community College, both of which have locations in the affected office buildings, said Edelson. Both colleges have indicated they would like to stay in Reston.

Monday, December 12, 2016

#2 Story of 2016: Maryland Live Casino's $200M Hotel to Break Ground in Fall

The Cordish Cos. plans to break ground in the fall on a $200 million hotel at Maryland Live Casino, an expansion that will begin just months before the MGM National Harbor opens in Prince George's County.

Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. has had plans to open a hotel alongside the casino since it opened in 2012. Now, a blueprint and timeline is in place for construction of the Live Hotel to be completed by the end of 2017.

The Cordish Cos. will begin construction on the Live Hotel this fall as part of the Maryland Live casino’s $200 million expansion.

The new 350,000-square-foot hotel building, which will stand 17 stories with 310 guest rooms and 52 suites, will sit adjacent to the state's largest casino.

"The addition of our flagship Live Hotel is just the latest investment we are making to ensure Maryland Live continues to be the preferred choice for visitors seeking a world-class gaming and entertainment experience," said Robert Norton, president of the Cordish Global Gaming Group.

Outside of guest rooms, Live Hotel will have several event and meeting spaces, including a 1,500-seat concert venue, and a banquet hall with seating up to 800 people.

The Shop Live retail store, a day spa and salon and an additional 1,000 parking spaces are also part of the plan.

On the dining side, a 24-hour cafe with open kitchen viewing and community seating will be part of the hotel along with a gelato bar and a lobby bar with more than 50 seats.

Tutor Perini Building Co. will serve as the general contractor when the project breaks ground this fall. Project completion is scheduled for fourth quarter 2017.

The Anne Arundel County Council approved the expansion project last September, including a $22.5 million tax incremental financing bond. Repayment of the bond will be made from new revenue generated by the hotel.

As part of the agreement, the event center will be available for use by the county, public schools, Anne Arundel Community College and nonprofits free of charge.

The project is expected to create nearly 400 new jobs and 550 construction jobs for the area.

MGM National Harbor, along the banks of the Potomac River near Washington, D.C., is scheduled to open by year's end and will bring new competition for Maryland Live.

The $1.2 billion casino and hotel project will have 308 guest rooms as part of the 1 million-square-foot resort.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

#3 Story of 2016: $400M Mission Hospital Tower Largest in Asheville’s History

A massive $400 million medical tower that will soon be built at 509 Biltmore Avenue will be the largest construction project in Asheville’s history.

The new tower will allow to Mission Health to shutter its aging St. Joseph’s campus and consolidate all operations on the newer Mission campus side of the operation.

Last year, the City Council voted its approval to Mission Health to build a new 12-story, 681,000 square foot tower, which will include new operating rooms and an emergency services department.

The project’s architect is HDR and the general contractor is Turner Construction.

The project’s large size meant it required a Level III review under the city’s Unified Development Ordinance and a council vote.

The tower would have frontage on Hospital Drive and Victoria Road, replacing the St. Joseph’s hospital campus, which is on the opposite side of Biltmore from most of Mission Health’s facilities.

That has meant at times patients are transported by ambulance across the busy road.

The hospital began seriously looking at changes four years ago. The facilities at the St. Joseph’s facility were aging out, and there was a need for a new emergency department.

The St. Joseph’s facility is outdated, cannot accommodate new technology, and would be too costly to renovate.

The tower project on the Memorial Campus achieve cost savings by eliminating the duplication of services required to maintain facilities on both sides of the street, as well as to improve patients’ experience and safety by eliminating the need to transport them back and forth.

Construction on the tower, which will have two floors underground, is set to be completed in November 2018.

City planning director Tod Okolinchany said it will be the biggest project Asheville has ever seen. “The Asheville Mall exceeds 900,000 square feet but was completed in phases over several years,” he said.

The tower will have 216 beds, and services such as a heart catheter lab and endoscopy, intensive care unit and medical-surgery recovery floor, along with a cafeteria, an 84-bed emergency room, and support offices.

The project calls for retaining walls as high as 28 feet in some places. To soften their effect, the hospital plans to use plants and design elements.

There are also plans for a small park area at the corner of Hospital Drive and Biltmore.

The former St. Joe’s site will later be redeveloped to provide needed affordable housing, as well as commercial use and retail shops.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

#4 Story of 2016: Reagan National Airport to Undergo Massive $1B Renovation

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, across the Potomac River from the nation's capital, will undergo a massive $1 billion renovation, its managers announced this week. 
The airport in Arlington, Virginia turned 75 years old this month. Despite its being in better condition than other major airports, such as New York's La Guardia, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority plans to add 1.1 million square feet to the airport.

The added space would shorten security lines and improve customers' experiences while traveling, the authority said.

More than 23 million passengers used National last year, making it the second-busiest airport in the region, after Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport. Last year was its sixth straight year of record-high passenger traffic. And there is little indication it will taper off.

And that’s the problem.

Such phenomenal growth was not part of the original plan for the airport, which sits on 860 acres of infill in the Potomac River.

But in the years since President Franklin D. Roosevelt watched the first American Airlines DC-3 aircraft touch down on the runway, the airport has grown in ways that few could have anticipated. It now serves more passengers than Dulles International — an airport 14 times its size.

The irony is that while airport officials have fought against growth at National, they have been forced to accommodate it.

They have reconfigured space, even re-purposing storage closets and conference rooms to manage the passenger boom. In 2014, they spent $37 million to remake historic Terminal A, adding security lanes and brightening the interior.

This fall, they will break ground on the airport’s biggest building project in nearly two decades. The centerpiece of the ambitious $1 billion program will be a new commuter concourse on the airport’s north side.

The building will replace Gate 35X — a notorious choke point where travelers, in rain, sun or snow, are required to board shuttle buses to get to their planes.

"Over the next four years, there's going to be a transformation of the passenger experience at Reagan National to decrease congestion near the gate and to improve passenger flow through the terminal," said MWAA spokesman Rob Yingling.

The authority released a video that shows security checkpoints being moved and housed under the roadway west of the airport, toward Crystal City.

Some of the checkpoints will be underground and have natural light coming in through glass ceiling panels. Terminal C, which currently houses the airport's executive offices, will be transformed to hold short-hop flights.

The authority said much of the construction will be done overnight so as not to interfere with airport traffic. The work will not begin until spring 2017 and is expected to be completed by 2021.