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Commercial Property Executive: Bozzuto/Pritzker JV Invests in $200M Mixed-Use Project at Catholic University in D.C.

August 16, 2010

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Less than a month after announcing the formation of a joint venture with an initial capitalization of $75 million for multifamily acquisitions and developments, Greenbelt, Md.-based The Bozzuto Group and Chicago’s Pritzker Realty Group have made their first investment. The team has provided equity to Washington, D.C.-based Abdo Development for the construction of a $200 million mixed-use project at The Catholic University of America in the nation’s capital.

The 885,000-square-foot pedestrian-friendly project will occupy five blocks at Catholic University’s South Campus, an approximately nine-acre site the college has long planned to redevelop into a coveted mixed-use, transit-oriented destination. To be developed in phases, the South Campus project, at full build-out, will encompass approximately 720 residential apartment, 45 townhomes, 15,000 square feet of artist studio space, 83,000 square feet of ground-level retail and a 3,000-square-foot community arts center. A Metro station sits just across the street, and drivers will be accommodated with 850 parking spaces. Phase one of the enterprise will produce a multifamily building with ground-level retail space, as well as the arts walk component, which will feature a multifamily building atop 27 ground level art studios flanked by retail space along a path to the Metro station.

Plans for a sizeable mixed-use development, particularly one with such a large residential component, may not make sense in many cities across the country, but Abdo, its new partners and university officials believe it makes perfect sense in the District, particularly in the project’s designated locale. “We’ve always been very bullish on this specific location within the city,” Toby Millman, vice president of project development with Abdo, told CPE. “It’s close to major employers including Washington Hospital Center, and there isn’t a lot of housing in the immediate area to serve individuals like doctors and nurses who work in shifts around the clock. Also, there is background demand from employment levels throughout the city; Washington, D.C., has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.”

With Bozzuto and Pritzker onboard, all equity is now in place for the Catholic University endeavor. “We always knew we would need to bring in an equity partner,” Millman said. “We were starting to look at the same time Bozzuto and Pritzker were in the process of putting together their equity fund, so it all came together; it was perfect timing and a perfect match.” It was on July 27 that Bozzuto and Pritzker announced the creation of their new joint venture focusing on the acquisition and development of multifamily properties in high-growth areas in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, with a particular focus on the Washington-Baltimore region.

While Abdo has fully addressed equity needs for the Catholic University project, it has not finalized terms on the debt size; however, the company has no fear about the matter. “We were not held up by the credit crunch,” Millman noted. “We just got Planned Unit Development approval from the D.C. Zoning Commission in January, and then we started looking, and there is a lot of interest in terms of the location and project type.” Abdo and partners are on track to commence the redevelopment of Catholic University’s South Campus by the close of 2011.