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WBJ's Michael Neibauer, with his teeth as always deeply sunken into the news of Lower 8th Street, is reporting what I had heard within the past few days but could not confirm, that the National Community Church is buying the old Navy Yard Card Barn, aka the Blue Castle, at 770 M Street SE.
Madison Marquette, the current owners of the Blue Castle, put it on the market about a year ago, after purchasing it in 2007 from PREI, which had bought it in 2005.
WBJ reports that the sale price is expected to be between $25 million and $35 million, with the church benefitting from a $4.5 million donation to help fund the purchase, along with income from existing leases for the Castle's remaining tenants to help cover the $1.5 million-a-year mortgage.
As you may recall, NCC went on a Lower 8th buying spree back in 2010 and 2011, snapping up 10 lots on the block bounded by Virginia, 7th, 8th, and K, including the old Miles Glass building at 8th and Virginia, which was demolished in 2012. (Their holdings do not include the lot on the corner of 8th and L, where "The Brig" beergarden is going to go.) The church also owns and operates out of the former People's Church a few blocks to the north, on Barracks Row.
When making the Square 906 purchases in 2010 and 2011, it was with an eye toward perhaps some combination of coffee house, performance space, and church offices, though no designs or plans have ever publicly begun moving forward.
The church's Virginia Avenue lots are also right on the front lines of the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel project--and back in August the Post quoted NCC head Mark Batterson as saying, "It’s been difficult to take the first step because we don’t know exactly what or when CSX will build and how that will affect us." Which, alongside today's news, does make one wonder about the NCC-related future of those properties.
WBJ says that Batterson told his congregation that the church "hopes to tack on several new floors" to the building--though I have no doubt that that will be a festive trip through the historic preservation review process, along with the Navy giving the stink-eye from across M Street.
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SWag says: (11/4/14 5:01 PM)
what are they gonna do with it? and I hope they don't add a single thing to it.


Gamble Rogers says: (11/6/14 11:30 AM)
This is a really interesting development. It's too bad Madison Marquette couldn't make a go of the building, but the NCC is building quite an empire on Lower 8th. It will be interesting to hear their ultimate plans for the building; do they plan to seek investors for a condo project on the lower half of the building facing 7th Street SE?

My understanding is that while the side of the building facing 8th Street falls under Capitol Hill historic restrictions, those same restrictions do not apply to the "newer" portion of the building that faces 7th Street. And the building has some wiggle room in its zoning "by right;" I think the property is zoned up to 45 feet. That's plenty of height to build condos or apartments, but an investor may need to go higher to justify the investment and guarantee return. My understanding was that Madison was planning to seek zoning relief to build higher -- then reality hit.

It would be great to hear from Batterson about his long term plans. With the NCC and the Beer Garden, we could finally get that Saints and Sinners nickname up and running!


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