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Planning a Town Center at Land Bay G

Site could embrace restaurants, hotels, movies.

— In 2007, MidAtlantic Realty Partners, a veteran Washington area real estate developer, bought 17 acres of land from the Pulte Group for $70 million. MRP’s plan was to develop Potomac Yard’s Land Bay G, the third largest parcel in the city’s concept of Potomac Yard and what Alexandria planners saw as a “Town Center” — a place with restaurants, stores, movies, offices and hotels could serve the giant residential neighborhood being developed next door by the Pulte Group.

MRP had developed the 14-story Carlyle Overlook, a 250,000-square-foot office building in 2008 in Alexandria’s growing center on East Eisenhower Avenue and city planners knew of its work.

Land Base G runs from Route 1 on the west to Potomac Avenue on the east. The northern boundary is the parking lot of the Target store and on the south is East Glebe Road, which will connect Route 1 to Potomac Avenue.

In late 2010, MRP formed a joint venture with JGB, a major 459-employee, Washington area development firm that has built 30 million square feet of offices and 15,000 residential units over the past 52 years. Bisnow, a web page real estate paper, said last year that JGB “acquired” a “$51.5 million loan to recapitalize” the Town Center project.

Stephen Collins, director of entitlement at Pulte Group, said Pulte builds homes and saw MRP as a partner for the offices and hotels planned for Town Center. Frederick W. Rothmeijer, one of the principals of MRP, said in an interview last fall that its first plan had been to build a large proportion of the project in office space, “but the market has changed in recent months” and they plan to seek approval to reduce the square feet of office space and increase the number of residential units until the office market hardens.

MRP and JBG bought a second 750,000-square-foot parcel in Land Bay H, just south of G, where they ultimately may a build a complex of office buildings to be a government center and attract government agencies to locate there. But in 2011, the General Services Administration cut it demand for office space by some 5 per cent and is endeavoring to better utilize space it already has.

On Feb. 6, MRP and JBG announced that in the second quarter of 2012, they will begin what they called “The Exchange,” a nine-building complex that will surround the open area of Town Center. The 1.9 million-square-foot mixed use project will include some 800,000 square feet of office space and hotel space, two hotels with some 625 rooms and 534 apartments. There will also have some 100,000 square feet of retail that Rothmeijer said might include a Harris Teeter type of food store.

Construction began land preparation in February.

The first part of the Exchange will be 323 apartment units out of the total of 534 with work beginning in June 2012.

In June 2013 another building with 212 units of residential and retail space will begin construction.

In a sense Land Bay G seems to duplicate developments in North Potomac Yard where nearly 3,700 residential units are planned, but Rothmeijer said the time table of the two developments are quite different. He estimated that it would take McCaffery 2.5 years to get the approvals for moving their project forward and it could stretch over 10 to 15 years.

Land Bay G was the site of railroads maintenance area and had deep set environmental contamination and has voluntarily become part of a Virginia Department of Environmental Quality cleanup program.