On Barracks Row: Eyeing Millennials, Investor Will Develop/Redevelop Three 8th Street Properties
by Larry Janezich
Tuesday night, Chris Martin of Martin-Diamond Properties, unveiled a concept/plan for development of the last empty lot on Barracks Row – the Shakespeare parking lot at 526 8th Street, SE. Appearing before ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee in support of an Historic Preservation Application for a proposed new three-story mixed use building, Martin introduced himself to commissioners as the owner of the former Phase 1 tavern at 525 8th Street and said that he has a contract pending for the purchase of the Shakespeare Rehearsal Space at 507 8th Street, SE. Martin-Diamond is a partnered with an international investment company specializing in developing retail properties targeting Millennials.
Martin, who said he was excited to be part of the development of Barracks Row, later told Capitol Hill Corner that he did know what tenants might occupy the retail spaces the new building will provide. He said they could be dry goods retail, offices, or a restaurant. Martin also said that he was uncertain what would emerge from the renovation of the Shakespeare Rehearsal Space, assuming that purchase goes through. The former Phase 1 (and AXNO cider bar pop up) is undergoing extensive renovation and is up for lease as a restaurant. The timeline for the parking lot and rehearsal space development is uncertain because both are currently under lease to the Shakespeare Company.
Nearby neighbors – residents of G Street – whose properties back up to the Shakespeare parking lot, raised concerns regarding what impact the new structure would have regarding traffic in the alley which they use to access garages. They had other concerns about the lack of notification of the project and lack of communication with the developer. In order to allow time for the residents to meet with the developer, the Committee voted unanimously to take “no position” on a recommendation for the full ANC6B which will consider the case at its June meeting next Tuesday, June 12.
Martin-Diamond Properties LLC, is an “urban retail specialist” headquartered in Delaware with an office in DC. It has partnered with NW1 Partners, a real estate investment advisory firm focused on small cap value-added property investments in the US, UK, and Europe. NW1 raised $175 million this year to invest in Washington, DC, retail outlets focusing on Millennial demographics. Martin-Diamond’s job will be to find and manage real estate opportunities; in March, they purchased the Georgetown Theater building on Wisconsin Avenue. NW1 is headquartered in London and Chicago.