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Deeds have been recorded this afternoon indicating that the Ruben Companies has bought the two empty Exxon lots on South Capitol Street, at I Street SE and K Street SW.
The purchase of the 35,000-square-foot lot at South Capitol and I gives Ruben control of the entire block known as Square 697N; the company picked up the other 47,000 sq ft of the block back in 2009 after developer JPI defaulted on its loan for what was then the site of a Wendy's restaurant.
The other lot Ruben bought from Exxon, just south of the Capitol Skyline Hotel at South Capitol and K streets SW, is about 31,000 square feet and also gives the company control of that entire block, known as Square 648, after Ruben bought the other two lots in 2005 and 2007.
This now makes four sizeable sites that Ruben owns on this three-block stretch of South Capitol Street, since the company also owns 1100 South Capitol St. SE and 1101 South Capitol St. SW across the street, both of which are being marketed as office buildings.
The South Capitol and I Exxon closed down back in 2006, when the station's operator pleaded guilty to fradulently double-billing government contractors more than $120,000.
I don't know any more specifics about the sales at this point, and it's unlikely any buildings will be immediately sprouting on either site. But it is yet another bit of commercial development news that would seem to indicate that the worst of the downswing is past.
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MJM says: (7/5/11 11:28 PM)
Guess that is good news but now they can say they own them and do nothing with them for X # of years now. Hopefully they actually bought the land with an intent to build something on them. This financial crisis excuse is getting old going on three years especially in this area. Maybe we can get the companies west of the river to buy and develop since they have no problem doing that along the Orange Line unlike our companies here who can't seem to build or lease their projects. Just had to vent.


monkeyrotica says: (7/6/11 8:10 AM)
Most gas station sites are a nightmare to clean up. They're almost as bad as dry cleaners. I wouldn't look forward to any upscale eateries any time soon.


GaryRKarr says: (7/6/11 9:20 AM)
Word is they plan to put in a restaurant where the main supplies are sauerkraut, corned beef, swiss cheese and rye bread. Ruben's Reubens.


DC says: (7/6/11 9:45 AM)
MJM - your "vent" while perhaps sarcastic in nature illustrates a view devoid of reason and that is also representative of the type of "irrational exuberance" that assisted in creating the lending environment we have today - maybe going forward try thinking before venting

Gary - hilarious


NJA1000 says: (7/6/11 10:08 AM)
Are the gas stations classified as brownfields? If so, they could take a while to clean up before anything could be built on them.


MJM says: (7/6/11 1:44 PM)
DC - what I thought about is this: why are the companies that aren't present in Near-SE but are present in Arlington able to get finacing for projects in Arlington? The companies that rushed into the Near-SE land grab didn't have their books in order. FCE got hammered and just now coming back. Opus went under. Akridge - not sure what they are doing with their prime platforms. Monument's giant hole tied to Lehman. Cohen and the sculpture boxes and now rain garden (like the rain garden but that's sad you have to give land for a rain garden because you can't get money to build). We are stuck with companies in Near-SE that are still impacted by the crisis yet other parts of the city/region have companies that apparently weren't too impacted by the crisis and are building buildings like its 2007.

I would like to see companies be cautious but to buy the land and let it sit for 10 years and blame the crisis is just wrong at this point.


Alan says: (7/6/11 4:45 PM)
Well this explains the survey/property line posts and flags on the perimeter of the Wendy's lot. What I can't figure out is why DDOT removed the parking meters (concrete bases included) from Half between I and K. They also pulled the bases from the North side of I between Half and NJ Ave; the meters were never installed. Is residential parking being implemented?


jenniferp says: (7/11/11 4:25 PM)
MJM - rental rates in Arlington are going through the roof. It's the only submarket in the metropolitan area that has seen actual rent increases. These buildings under construction in Rosslyn are supposedly looking for rents in the $65+/sf range (and it may very well be higher). The Ballston project JBG has under construction only wants about $52/sf, but JBG had a tenant for one of the properties (Virginia Tech I think) and they started the project with all equity, thinking they could get debt financing after they finished the parking garage. Our rental rates for office in the new properties are in the low to mid $40's/psf which doesn't really justify new construction yet. Lerner's deal to fill his building with Bureau of Land Management was $34/psf, so at the moment he's losing a considerable amount of money on that building. We also have yet to attract "private" tenants, we're all pretty much GSA and associated contractors. They always have a lower rental threshold. I think GSA is currently capped at $48/psf in the District and after the SEC debacle, I don't think we'll see too much non-prospectus (needing Congressional approval) leasing for awhile. GSA leased a tremendous amount of space in the District over the last two years, out of the 3M SF of net absorption in 2010, they were reportedly responsible for about 2M SF of that and conventional wisdom (and the latest stats) say that gravy train is over.

Once they can get bank financing though, I'm sure they will start building again - developers are the ultimate optimists.

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