Metro Selects Developers for DC’s Jackson Graham Building

Rockefeller and Stonebridge were selected and are planning to overhaul the full-block property into modern office and retail space 

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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has selected a joint venture between Rockefeller Group and Stonebridge to redevelop the Jackson Graham Building in Washington, D.C, via a long-term ground lease. 

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The WMATA’s full city block site includes an eight-story office building, at 600 5th Street NW, that has served as the transit agency’s headquarters space since 1974. The agency plans to vacate the aging building in late 2022 and will consolidate its operations across three newly-built properties. 

Rockefeller and Stonebridge will begin construction at Jackson Graham, located across the street from the Capital One Arena, in early 2023, according to information from the companies. 

The project calls for “a muscular repositioning,” Hilary Allard Goldfarb, Rockefeller Group’s senior vice president and regional development officer for the Mid-Atlantic region, told Commercial Observer. Plans call for a complete renovation and rehab of the existing building and adding three floors on top of it. Uses may range from modern high-density office space to ground-floor retail and mixed-use. 

Under the terms of the deal, Rockefeller and Stonebridge will be signing a 99-year ground lease with the WMATA, according to agency documents. The set-up will give the venture control of the development while the agency will retain its underlying ownership stake, with the rental revenue helping to support transit operations and the agency’s funding. The WMATA’s board is expected to review the deal’s terms later this week. 

The property holds three Metro station chiller plants on its roof while the Red Line tunnel runs under the property, according to the document.  

“This really is a special site and a once in a generation opportunity, so we’re really excited,” Goldfarb said. “One of the cool things about the site is there is on-site infrastructure, which from a construction and design engineering perspective, allows for some really creative programming.”

After nixing plans for an outright sale, the WMATA solicited proposals for a long-term ground lease at the site last year and chose the joint venture from 14 offers received, the document said.  

“Reimagining the WMATA Headquarters will generate new jobs, retail, and additional vibrancy between two downtown landmarks—the Capital One Arena and the National Building Museum,” John J. Falcicchio, acting deputy mayor for planning and economic development, said in prepared remarks. “We look forward to working with WMATA and the Stonebridge Rockefeller team as they deliver a dynamic project that we trust will be the next great landmark in the heart of the Nation’s Capital.”