The JBG Cos. has an anchor tenant and will soon begin construction on its new office building at 500 L’Enfant Plaza.
Five years after the developer first announced plans for the office building, it said Tuesday that Urban Institute has signed for 121,000 square feet covering six floors. Terms of the lease were not disclosed. Urban Institute will leave its headquarters in the West End to take over about 60 percent of the 12-story, 212,000-square-foot-building near the Southwest Waterfront.
The new building is part of JBG’s multiyear renovation of L’Enfant Plaza. It recently began construction at 900 L’Enfant, where the new International Spy Museum will open in 2018.
The podium for 500 L’Enfant, which will be part of the JBG Smith portfolio after the Chevy Case-based company merges with Vornado this year, is already constructed. Vertical construction will begin by March, JBG said. Urban Institute, currently located at 2100 M St. NW, is anticipated to occupy the space in the second quarter of 2019.
“We have been working with Urban Institute for more than a year,” said JBG Principal Britt Snider. “We are excited the building is going forward. One of the concerns from prospective tenants was whether the building was going to go. Now, it obviously is, and we hope this will get people interested in it.”
The new building will include a conference center with a broadcast auditorium for the Urban Institute’s programming and a 5,500-square-foot rooftop deck overlooking the Southwest Waterfront. The rooftop will also include a catering kitchen for events.
Urban Institute President Sarah Rosen Wartell said in a statement the research policy organization is excited to “launch its next chapter” as it stays in the District, where it has been located since its founding in 1968.
JBG has had plans for the space since before the 2009 recession and 2013 sequestration. The company purchased 1.7 million square feet of space at 955 and 470.490 L’Enfant Plaza for an estimated $200 million in 2003. The 955 L’Enfant building, built in 1967, underwent $12 million in renovations and reopened in 2014.
Eyeing a government agency as an ideal tenant during the downturn meant the building plans languished.
In 2012, JBG offered up an equity stake in the office properties and said it would put $140 million into upgrading the underground shopping area at L’Enfant.
That same year, a D.C. Superior Court judge ordered JBG to sell the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel to Stanford Hotels Corp. as part of a 14-year-old lawsuit over the property’s rightful owner. The hotel closed in 2014 and is expected to reopen as a Hilton in 2018.
Overall, JBG’s development plans are envisioned as adding additional vibrancy to Southwest, alongside Hoffman-Madison’s massive The Wharf, which is expected to open in late 2017. The projects are part of a 110-acre Southwest D.C. Ecodistrict aimed at transforming the area from the National Mall to the waterfront.
“Southwest is really being reshaped,” said Snider. “Its proximity to Metro, The Wharf and the excitement about the Spy Museum. Everything going on all around it all at once makes it an attractive location.”
This article appeared in the Washington Business Journal on January 3, 2017. Article by Karen Goff.