Jair Lynch fills up Penn Branch retail center
NEWS | May 12, 2021
Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners has leased nearly all of the empty retail and office space at The Shops at Penn Branch — more than four years after it reached across the Anacostia River to acquire the property formerly known as the Penn Branch Shopping Center — thanks to a flurry of deals with tenants including Chipotle and a cajun restaurant from the owner of D.C.’s Po Boy Jim.
The D.C.-based developer has signed about 9,000 square feet of retail leases at the 89,000-square-foot center, located at 3200 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, and has fully leased the property’s 16,000 square feet of second-floor office space to a mix of local and national tenants. That activity builds on momentum Jair Lynch hoped to generate when it signed a 20,000-square-foot lease with Planet Fitness in 2017. Since then, with the aid of property management and retail leasing firm Rappaport, it has sought a mix of neighborhood-supporting merchants to fill out the remaining space, said President and CEO Jair Lynch.
The center was previously home to a D.C. Municipal Services Center and a substation of the Metropolitan Police Department.
The developer spent about $7 million to renovate the property, which was more than half empty when Jair Lynch acquired it, and those steps helped support the property’s existing merchants and draw new ones to the site, Lynch said. The anchor fitness center has also helped generate additional foot traffic, even during the pandemic.
“Hillcrest and Penn Branch are these strong, home-based communities that need services and need foods, especially if they’re not going out to restaurants, and the ability to get food delivered to them,” Lynch said. “We invested in the property, so we improved everything from sidewalks to signage to storefronts, and allowed the existing restaurants to survive. As a result of that, we’re able to show that there’s daytime traffic that’s in the area, and I think that has really helped the retailers get comfortable with it.”
Joining fast-food chain Chipotle, which announced ambitious expansion plans on Monday, are: Shark’s Fish and Chicken, replacing the former Star Pizza; a pair of brands from the Black-owned Miskiri Hospitality Group, Miss Toya’s Soul Juice and Miss Toya’s Southern Cajun Kitchen; and Highlands Café, from Penn Branch resident and chef Moe Garay, whose first restaurant opened along the 14th Street corridor in Northwest D.C. in 2008.
Chef Jeffeary Miskiri of D.C.-based Miskiri Hospitality Group is behind other restaurants, including Po Boy Jim and is expanding to the Hyattsville Arts District with Suga & Spice. He said in a statement his company is committed to serving the communities where its businesses are located and looked forward to opening at Penn Branch.
Jair Lynch, with the aid of Civitas Commercial Real Estate Services, has also landed office tenants including the D.C. Office of State Superintendent of Education, Bluerock Care, North Capitol Collaborative and KBEC Group. Combined, those retail and office leases bring the center to about 96% leased.
The leases were signed over a period from June 2019, for the State Superintendent of Education, to earlier in May, for Miss Toya’s. Representing the tenants in those deals were: Sean Harcourt, H&R Realty, for Chipotle; Marc Rosendorf, Rosendorf Group, for Miss Toya’s; Fletcher Gill and Victor Dambrosia, The Genau Group; for North Capitol; Adrian Dominguez, Gittleson Zuppas Medical Realty, for Bluerock; and Timothy Foley, Studley, for the State Superintendent.
Towson, Maryland, is transforming into a bustling college town that will rival the most livable towns across the nation. Crossroads, jointly developed by Gilbane and Greenberg Gibbons, anchors the 1.2 million sf. mixed-use development called Towson Row by Master Developer Greenberg Gibbons. It is prominently found at the intersection of two major streets—York Road and Towsontown Boulevard—at the southern gateway into Downtown Towson. Here, MV+A was tasked with the challenge of planning and designing a Whole Foods Market and plaza facing in-line retail with stick-built residential atop it all.
The tight urban building site presents several challenges, most notably a 35′ height difference across the site, activity wanted all around the perimeter, and the existence of a historic railroad abutment. MV+A was able to make creative use of the grade difference across the site by stacking the grocer above plaza-facing retail and residential lobby programs. This arrangement makes use of the rapidly rising sidewalks around the building to allow all retailers, including the grocer, and the residential lobby to have direct access from the sidewalks. While this arrangement creates the desired all-around perimeter activation, the nature of that activation varies as one walks around the block. A much quieter experience with the residential lobby lining the majority of the York road frontage changes to a plaza-fronting retail experience along Towsontown Boulevard and eventually culminates in the Whole Foods Market experience along the higher, newly planned Towson Row Avenue at the center of the development.
The linear plaza along Towsontown Boulevard provides much needed outdoor space for the community and allows the retail programming to spill out into the outdoors. The plaza extends all the way east and incorporates within its footprint the historic railroad abutment found at the previously mentioned southern gateway. The building corner here is carved to acknowledge the existence of the abutment and while it functions as a contrasting background to the abutment, the architecture language here has been devised to give the viewer a layered timeline of the past and the future at this site. As Downtown Towson is being made over, MV+A considers itself fortunate to have a hand in sculpting its future.
MV+A is designing the master plan for a 36‑acre parcel adjacent to the Reston Town Center Metro station. In July of this year the plan received unanimous approval from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The Board approved the Conceptual Development Plan for all 36 acres and Final Development Plan for Block F, the first phase of a grocery anchored project with over 350 stick‑built apartments above. The overall program includes 1.9 million square feet of office, 1,630 residential units, a 200‑key hotel, and 300,000 square feet of retail and entertainment including an 80,000‑square‑foot grocery. Using color, texture, and form to delineate different functions, the design team developed a simplified language for the building that will integrate with the overall progressive nature of the architecture planned for the development.
MV+A is excited to be designing Faraday Park, the redevelopment of a seven-acre site just east of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, on the Silver Line in Reston, Virginia. It will be part of a larger redevelopment effort for the area. The once low-density enclave of small office buildings is being transformed into a walkable community featuring a new grid of streets, a denser mix of uses, and diverse open spaces. By helping establish the street grid, MV+A has created the framework to support designs for Rooney Properties, which include two seven-story rental apartment buildings containing 408 units and ground floor retail, as well as twenty-six townhouses arranged around a network of public parks.
Faraday West, the building closest to Metro, contains 242 apartments and has 10,000 square feet of retail at the corner of Reston Station Boulevard and Michael Faraday Drive. Taking advantage of proximity to Metro, the architecture establishes a grand commercial statement for the anticipated restaurants and shops, and then transitions to a quieter residential character along the east and west facades.
Faraday East transforms a surface parking lot into 166 modern apartments, using similar massing and materials as the west building. The architecture of the east building is distinct from Faraday West but maintains a compatible dialog with its neighbor to the west.
Both buildings are flanked by a series of townhouses, separated by linear garden spaces that end in a public park with many individual and team activities available. The garden facades of both Faraday West and Faraday East are articulated with small projecting bays facing the townhouses to create similar scaled elements between the 7-story apartments and the 4-story townhouses. Balconies and terraces also bring activity and human scale to the gardens, contributing to the feel of a welcoming and pedestrian-oriented living space.