Most expensive construction projects in Greater DC

NEWS   |   August 12, 2019

Washington, DC

construction projects Halley Rise | Reston, VA

Crane Watch is in a constant state of flux, as it should be.

The vast majority of the projects we started with in 2017 when we launched the interactive map of the region’s largest ongoing construction projects have been completed, and replaced with, essentially, an entirely new set.

All but two of the projects in the gallery above, the top 10 largest projects underway right now (plus one bonus), are relatively recent additions.

The Washington Business Journal generally limits Crane Watch to projects valued at $50 million or more — if we do not have that information, we go with the project’s size, or our gut. The map includes, at this time, 72 projects ranging from massive mixed-use developments to new hospitals. It does not include data centers or large renovation projects.

We also recognize that we might have missed some projects. Please let us know of the gaps. Email

And please check out the full Crane Watch map.

NEWS   |   July 19, 2019

Riverdale Park, MD

Trolley Riverdale Park Station | Riverdale, MD

Calvin Cafritz Enterprises just started work on the first apartments at its Riverdale Park Station project in Prince George’s County, and it’s already getting ready for what’s next.

The Prince George’s County Planning Board is scheduled July 25 to review a detailed site plan application for two additional seven-story buildings totaling 632 units, including 195 age-restricted units, plus 450 square feet for restaurant or retail use — to be located in a refurbished, freestanding trolley car.

The buildings are slated for a future phase and a timeline was not immediately available.

Riverdale Park Station is home to Prince George’s only Whole Foods Market. The first 229 apartments there, in the Residences at Riverdale Park Station at 4650 Van Buren St., are slated for completion in the second quarter of 2020.

At buildout, the 36-acre development is expected to have 119 townhouses, 850 multifamily units, 160,000 square feet of retail, 20,000 square feet of office and a 120-key Hyatt House hotel.

The latest proposal includes 338 apartments in one building and 99 apartments and the 195 senior units in another. The application provides for 791 vehicle parking spaces — in garages set at the back of the buildings, screening the development from the CSX tracks — as well as 696 bicycle parking spaces and three fitness centers between the two buildings.

The trolley car, meanwhile, will “recall the use of such cars many years ago” on the property. It will “provide an interesting and attractive amenity at an appropriate scale in this location.”

Riverdale Park Station is about 1.1 miles from the College Park Metro, but it is a short walk to a future Purple Line stop and Riverdale Park Station offers a free daily shuttle to both the College Park and Prince George’s Plaza Metro stations.

NEWS   |   July 8, 2019

Washington, DC

McMillan Sand Filtration

Redevelopment of the McMillan Reservoir at Michigan Avenue and North Capitol Streets NW (map) may be back on track.

For more than two years, appeals have kept the planned-unit development (PUD) in limbo. However last week, the DC Court of Appeals, in its final decision on the PUD, affirmed that while the original PUD order offered insufficient justification for several provisions of the development, the response that the Zoning Commission issued on remand adequately addressed any outstanding concerns.

The PUD, helmed by Vision McMillan Partners (VMP), would divide the site into 7 parcels, delivering 146 townhouses, 531 apartments, eight acres of preserved open space, a community center, medical office buildings, and retail including a Harris Teeter grocery store. Roughly 15 percent of the residential square footage will be set aside as affordable housing. VMP is made up of Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners, EYA, Trammell Crow, and architects MV+A Architects, Shalom Baranes and Perkins Eastman.

Between this decision and the time extension granted earlier this year, the development team has until March 2021 to apply for building permits.

NEWS   |   June 17, 2019

Washington, DC

Incentive Program Penn Branch

The past month in DC has been marked by several discussions and debates regarding food deserts in Wards 7 and 8, the validity of the “East End” and “East of the River” monikers, and ongoing volleying about the DC budget and the availability of funds for various initiatives. Now, all three subjects are converging.

Last week, Ward 7 councilmember Vincent Gray announced funding for a program to increase investment in grocery stores east of the Anacostia River. Based on the Chief Financial Officer’s assessment that the city has a 60-day surplus of cash on-hand, Gray announced that those funds would be used to bankroll the East End Grocery Incentive Act of 2018.

The act creates a program within the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development to allow the government to subsidize construction of new grocery stores east of the River. The incentive program would also enable the city to subsidize other retail co-anchors at nine developments: Skyland Town Center (where the city’s first LIDL grocery store was announced), Penn Branch shopping center, St. Elizabeths, Parkside, Capitol Gateway (which has languished following cancelled plans for a Walmart), Deanwood Town Center, Columbian Quarter, East River Park, and United Medical Center.

“I am excited to work with the Mayor, and her administration to leverage this dedicated $9.899 million in surplus funds, and any additional funding certified at the end of Fiscal Year 2019, for pay-as-you-go capital funding to ensure that the District develops all nine of these sites with new full-service grocery stores, retail, and sit-down restaurants,” Gray said in a statement.

Utilizing a provision passed in 2010 during Gray’s mayoral term, the city is able to split surplus funds between pay-as-you-go capital initiatives and the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) once 60 days of operating cash is available. Accordingly, another $9.899 million will be apportioned to the HPTF.

NEWS   |   May 2, 2019

Washington, DC

McMillan Sand Filtration | Washington, DC

In 2016, the plans to redevelop the McMillan Reservoir and Sand Filtration Site were about to get started. However, an appellate court decision put a halt to the project later that year, and it has been stuck in limbo ever since.

As the controversial redevelopment plan for the site remains under appeal, the Zoning Commission unanimously approved a two-year extension for the approved planned-unit development earlier this week.

Vision McMillan Partners (VMP) plans to develop the 25-acre industrial site between North Capitol and First Streets and Michigan Avenue and Channing Street NW (map) into 146 townhouses, 531 apartments, an eight-acre park, a community center, medical office buildings, and retail including a grocery store. VMP is made up of Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners, EYA, Trammell Crow, and architects MV+A Architects, Shalom Baranes and Perkins Eastman.

With the extension approval, all portions of the PUD remain valid until March 2021, or for two years from the conclusion of the appeals.

NEWS   |   May 2, 2019

Towson, MD

Whole Foods Towson Row

Grocery store Whole Foods will anchor Towson Row, a $350 million development in Towson’s core, developer Greenberg Gibbons announced Tuesday morning.

The 45,000-square-foot organic grocery store on the corner of York Road and Towsontown Boulevard will feature two levels of parking, a mezzanine and outdoor dining area overlooking the development’s plaza, according to a press release.

County councilman David Marks, who represents Towson, called the addition of Whole Foods an “exciting milestone in the revitalization of Towson.”

“We know from experience that Whole Foods attracts premier retailers and restaurants, and a strong anchor is essential to creating a welcoming and active urban project that invites the community to come together,” said Brian Gibbons, chairman and CEO of Greenberg Gibbons, in the press release.

Construction on Towson Row, which will make up 1.2 million square feet of retail, housing and hotel space, broke ground last June after a years-long delay.

Originally launched by developer Caves Valley Partners in 2013, Greenberg Gibbons was brought in and the County Council approved a $42.9 million financial assistance package to get the project off the ground.

Whole Foods was originally announced as Towson Row’s anchor tenant, but by 2017, when the county was considering the assistance package, Greenberg Gibbons told reporters nothing had been finalized.

Construction on Whole Foods is expected to begin this winter and be completed by summer 2021, according to the press release.

It will be the Towson area’s first Whole Foods, with the nearest open location in Mt. Washington in Baltimore.

NEWS   |   March 21, 2019

Washington, DC

Michael Faraday | Wiehle Reston Station, VA

A planned, two-building multifamily project near the Wiehle-Reston East development has landed the financing needed to break ground.  Rooney Properties secured $29.1M in preferred equity from Parse Capital for the 407-unit Faraday Park development. HFF’s Walter Coker and Brian Crivella brokered the deal on behalf of Rooney.  The project, branded as Faraday, will consist of two seven-story multifamily buildings with 10K SF of ground-floor retail at 1831 Michael Faraday Drive in Reston. The site is currently occupied by a low-rise office building. It sits within a half-mile of the Silver Line station and 1 mile from the Whole Foods-anchored Plaza America shopping center.  MV+A designed the buildings, which will include units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms averaging 842 SF. They will feature amenities such as a rooftop swimming pool, a fitness center, kitchen and dining space, coworking space, a dog park and a refrigerated package room. With the financing deal secured, HFF said construction is slated to begin immediately.  “This investment is an endorsement of the strength of the Reston market and demonstrates the ability of experienced developers like Rooney to obtain capital for best-in-class projects,” Crivella said in a release.

NEWS   |   March 14, 2019

Washington, DC

Trader Joe's sleepy industrial site

The development team planning a 1.2M SF project in an opportunity zone in Montgomery County has landed a popular grocery store anchor and is now looking to cash out.
Finmarc Management and Bernstein Management recently signed Trader Joe’s to anchor the first phase of the joint venture’s planned White Oak Town Center development along Columbia Pike in the northern portion of Silver Spring, a source familiar with the deal tells Bisnow. The team has retained Cushman & Wakefield to market the property, either for sale or for a joint venture partner. The team is marketing the development site’s location in an opportunity zone as a major selling point and says it is already hearing from investors looking to take advantage of the new federal program.  “The response from opportunity zone investors and developers has been extraordinary,” said Cushman & Wakefield Executive Managing Director Paul Norman, who is marketing the property, along with John Pellerito and Brendan May.  Finmarc principal Marc Solomon said he thinks White Oak is one of the most attractive areas in the region to be designated as an opportunity zone, and having a project as far along as White Oak Town Center is seen as an advantage in the emerging market for opportunity zone investments.  “Relative to a lot of other opportunity zones and projects in opportunity zones, this is one where the retail is leased, the plans are almost approved and it’s ready to go,” Solomon said.  The brokers, development team and Trader Joe’s declined to comment on the grocery store lease. Trader Joe’s has an existing location about 3 miles away on Columbia Pike, plus one in Bethesda and one in Rockville, which was also developed by Finmarc.  Finmarc and Bernstein are currently going through entitlements for the first phase of the White Oak Town Center development, with approval expected within three to four months. The 7-acre development site for the first phase is currently occupied by a vacant industrial building. The Phase 1 plans call for 275 apartments and 73K SF of retail.
The 13-acre Phase 2 site has industrial and retail buildings that are near full occupancy. The buyer could hold onto that parcel as an income-producing asset, or it could exercise lease termination clauses that would allow it to move forward with the development envisioned as Phase 2.  Conceptual plans for the Phase 2 site call for five-story multifamily buildings with ground-floor retail that could bring the total density of the White Oak Town Center development to 1.2M SF. Solomon said the Finmarc and Bernstein team decided to bring the property to market because the company does not have experience in multifamily development. He said the team would be open to selling the full property or bringing on a joint venture partner to build the apartments while the owners retain control of the retail portion. He sees the area as prime for new retail development and said the project is experiencing strong retail momentum. “We think there’s absolutely a demand for lots of good quality restaurants and food and beverage facilities that is lacking in the market,” Solomon said. “There’s a large daytime population and residential population, and there are very limited services in this area.”  The property fronts Columbia Pike in between the Tech Road and Industrial Parkway intersections. Across Tech Road to the north, the Westech Village Corner shopping center features a TGI Fridays, Chick-fil-A, Panera Bread, IHOP, Qdoba and other retailers. The site is within 3 miles of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters campus, which the agency is planning to expand, and less than a mile from Adventist HealthCare’s new White Oak Medical Center, slated to open in August.  “The job creation in that area between the Adventist Hospital campus and the expansion of the FDA are really big drivers for the retail interest,” Norman said. The employment growth is also making the area more attractive for multifamily, Norman said. Past county ordinances have restricted the amount of housing that could be built in the area, due to concerns around traffic and school congestion. But the county has approved land-use plans allowing higher density development in the White Oak area. In addition to the White Oak Town Center project, Percontee is moving forward with its $3B Viva White Oak development, ultimately planned for 12M SF of mixed-use development.  “There is pent-up demand for new multifamily because nothing has been delivered in a couple decades there,” Norman said.  The area does not have a Metro station, but a new bus-rapid transit system is planned along Columbia Pike that will include a stop in front of the White Oak Town Center site. Pellerito said the BRT does not have the same appeal as a Metro station, but it is still a consideration investors are thinking about. “Most of the suburbs don’t have Metro,” he said. “This is a suburban mixed-use center that’s going to develop its own amenity base. It’s not transit-oriented from the perspective of Metro, but you’ve got great vehicular capability and you’ll have BRT.”

NEWS   |   February 7, 2019

Reston, Virginia

Halley Rise | Reston, VA

Brookfield Properties, the developer behind the Wegmans-anchored Halley Rise mixed-used development in Reston, is partnering with a Boston-based self-driving car company to deploy driverless vehicles.

Optimus Ride, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology spin-off company, starting in June will provide tenants in buildings currently on the Halley Rise site at One Reston Crescent and Two Reston Crescent with access to its reservation system and on-demand ride services completely contained within the 36-acre development. Brookfield (NYSE: BAM) rebranded Reston Crescent as Halley Rise last year.

During the initial phase, three self-driving vehicles will transport tenants in office buildings to parking lots at the site. An onsite operations team will monitor the fleet service as well as provide maintenance, cleaning, charging and updating of the vehicles.

In the future, Optimus Ride plans on deploying its self-driving cars at Brookfield properties worldwide.

“Brookfield is constantly exploring innovations that can improve the experience of our tenants,” Greg Meyer, executive president at Brookfield, said in a press release. “We are excited to engage with Optimus Ride to deploy this program in an effort to increase mobility and add convenience for our tenants in their day-to-day lives.”

Wegmans will take 80,000 square feet by the planned Reston Town Center Metro station, as the retail anchor in one of the planned mixed-use building. Construction will begin mid-2019 with the first phase — with 640 residential units, 450,000 square feet of office, 200,000 square feet of retail and two new parks — expected to deliver in 2022. The overall 3.5 million-square-foot development will encompass 10 blocks, including two existing office buildings, with a mix of 1,500 residential units, 1.5 million square feet of office, and five acres of open space.

NEWS   |   November 5, 2018

Rockville, Maryland

Trader Joe's | Travilah Square, Rockville, MD

Prolific restaurateur Sam Fox’s first D.C. area outpost of Flower Child opens in Rockville this week, kicking off a large Beltway expansion for the health food brand.

The 4,000-square-foot location at 10072 Darnestown Road is scheduled to open on Wednesday, November 7, at 11 a.m. The brand, which falls under the Fox Restaurant Concepts umbrella, has about a dozen national locations, mostly in Arizona and Texas.

Popular menu items coming to Rockville include vegan poke bowls made with marinated beets, grass-fed steak wraps, kombucha on tap, and fresh-squeezed juices.

Three more planned stores across the D.C. area are expected to sprout up by next spring, simultaneously joined by a handful of North Italia locations — Fox’s national Italian chain. Flower Child’s website says Bethesda, Tysons, and D.C. locations are “coming soon.”

To celebrate opening day in Rockville, the first 100 guests will get $25 gift cards to use on their next visit. The spot will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Sunday.

Fox, an 11-time James Beard Award semifinalist for restaurateur of the year, has nearly 50 restaurants falling under 13 brands. In all, he plans to open 18 new restaurants throughout the U.S. by early 2019.