In 2005, J Street Development and its investment partner bought this 68,000 square foot parcel, prominently located at North Capitol and L Streets, NE, in the heart of the burgeoning NoMa/North Capitol Hill submarket. The property was not on the market, but J Street became aware that the tenant had a right of first option to purchase the building. J Street approached the tenant, the Smithsonian Institution, and negotiated to purchase their option, renegotiated their renewed but amended lease, and proceeded to close on the property a few months later. The opportunity for the property was both ambitious and complex: to take an un-entitled property with historic components through the approval process and create value in an exciting new multi-phased commercial office and retail project.
The company immediately launched into the often process necessary to move the property to an entitled state, first getting it designated with the National Register of Historic Places, an important step toward entitlement, given the City’s interest in recognizing the contextual history of the C&P Telephone Company building on the site. Over the next 18 months, the company obtained Transferable Development Rights (TDR’s) to allow the site to be developed to maximum density in consideration of the need to preserve and highlight the historic nature of the property. Next steps included the retention of renowned architect, Shalom Baranes, to design a striking new mixed-use design that would pair the historically sensitive elements with bold new architecture. In 2007, the company applied for and received Mayor’s Agent approval of the project.
With the NoMa submarket gaining recognition citywide as one of the most exciting new mixed-use communities, the company was approached by several suitors interested in buying the site. Within a short period, National Public Radio (NPR), contracted to purchase 1111 North Capitol Street as their new 400,000 square foot headquarters and closed on the property in July 2008.