New Digs: NAR to Become Capitol Hill Neighbor

July 1, 2002

REALTORS® will have a new Washington, D.C., headquarters beginning in 2004—a Class A, environmentally friendly building just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol.

At its meeting in mid-May, NAR’s Board of Directors approved the plan for the 12-story building, to be located at 500 New Jersey Ave., N.W. Total cost of the project, including land acquisition and construction, is estimated at $45 million—but the building will ultimately save the association significant money, according to a committee of REALTORS® that developed the building plan.

“The new NAR building will raise the bar for the area in terms of design,” says NAR President Martin Edwards Jr. “The design is dramatic and modern, yet appropriate for the location, and incorporates state-of-the-art environmental features. And the location makes a statement about NAR’s commitment to participate actively in federal policy-making.”

NAR currently leases space at 700 11th St., N.W. The lease expires in October 2004 and could be extended to 2008. By contract, the association would need to exercise its option to renew by April 2003. But REALTORS® considering the alternatives found abundant financial reason to choose new construction over a lease renewal. When fully rented, the new building is expected to save NAR more than $500,000 a year, says Jim Helsel,CCIM, CPM®, SIOR,Chair of NAR’s Real Property Operations Committee, which oversees the national association buildings in Chicago and Washington. RPOC, composed of members who specialize in commercial real estate, spent 18 months reviewing options for leasing, buying, or building, Helsel says.

By owning the building, NAR will eventually incur no occupancy costs and will generate revenue from rents. The new building will house approximately 93,000 net rentable square feet. NAR staff will occupy the top four floors, using about 33,000 square feet, with the balance of the space leased, most likely to lobbyists and other professionals, according to Helsel.

Edwards notes also that the location near the Capitol makes the building an excellent investment.

“This site is absolutely dynamite,” agrees Richard Rosenthal, CRE®, who chaired the Washington, D.C., subcommittee of RPOC that headed the search and the negotiations. “It really illustrates the concept of ‘location, location, location.’”

Groundbreaking on the building could begin as early as this fall, pending approval by the District of Columbia Board of Zoning and Adjustment. The building will be completed before the fall of 2004, NAR officials say. “When it’s completed, it will be one of the most ‘green’ commercial structures in the nation. Features will include a photovoltaic solar array on the roof, a double curtain wall for heat dissipation, and a recyclable water system,” Rosenthal says.

Three world-class firms—Graham Gund Architects of Cambridge, Mass.; Clark Redfield Architects of Charlottesville, Va.; and Bing Thom Architects of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada—submitted design concepts.

The Graham Gund design was selected by a distinguished panel of jurists that included George White, FAIA, former Architect of the Capitol, the position that oversees architectural work to federal buildings and monuments in Washington, D.C.; Harry Robinson III, FAIA, former dean of architecture at Howard University and chairman of the Washington, D.C., Commission of Fine Arts; Colden “Coke” Florance, FAIA, a prominent Washington, D.C. architect; Helsel; Rosenthal; Dale Colby, RPOC vice chair; Steven Leader, CRE®, past president of The Counselors of Real Estate; and Al Mansell, CRB, NAR first vice president nominee. The developer of the project is Lawrence N. Brandt Inc. of Washington, D.C.

L. William Chapin II, FAIA, a Daytona Beach, Fla., architect and former president of the American Institute of Architects, conceived of and facilitated the juried competition for NAR. “The architects invited to submit designs were picked for the interesting perspectives we thought they’d bring to this building,” he says, “with an eye toward creating long-term value and a landmark presence for REALTORS® in the nation’s capital.”

Pamela Geurds Kabati is the former publisher of REALTOR® Magazine and senior vice president of communications for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Notice: The information on this page may not be current. The archive is a collection of content previously published on one or more NAR web properties. Archive pages are not updated and may no longer be accurate. Users must independently verify the accuracy and currency of the information found here. The National Association of REALTORS® disclaims all liability for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information or data found on this page.