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Washington Business Journal: Abdo, Bozzuto to Break Ground Near Catholic University

November 04, 2011

Abdo Development and Bozzuto Group are slated to break ground Nov. 9 on a $200 million development by Catholic University of America that they’re hoping will create a whole new market for homes, shops and offices in the Brookland neighborhood.

The pair are planning to build nearly 720 residential units, 45 townhomes and 83,000 on the site, which they were tapped by Catholic University to develop back in 2008. The project is also slated to include 83,000 square feet of retail space, 15,000 square feet of artist space, a 3,000-square-foot community arts center and 850 parking spaces.

“We have this wonderful university, and we have a Metro stop, but there really wasn’t a ‘there’ there,” Abdo Development CEO Jim Abdo said. “We are creating this wonderful sense of place.”

Abdo said one of the unique parts of Monroe Street Market is that it represents a university setting near land for private development, and property taxes that come with it. That’s in contrast to the way of many colleges and higher education facilities that gobble up land to expand their campuses but do not pay property taxes. It’s also one of the largest private developments that come without any public subsidies in D.C.

The redevelopment of Catholic University’s south campus is being financed as part of a large infusion of cash from the Pritzker Realty Group, the Chicago-based firm launched in the early-1990s to oversee the non-hotel real estate holdings of Pritzker family that founded the Hyatt hotel chain.

The project represents just a fraction of the thousands of planned residential units to be built in the Washington area as developers look to capitalize on the strong demand for rental housing in particular, but Abdo and Bozzuto noted they have not yet figured out how much of their planned development’s residential units will be for-sale units versus rental apartments. The first phase of 562 units isn’t slated for completion until mid-2013.

Toby Bozzuto, president of Bozzuto subsidiary Bozzuto Development Co., said while there is a large number of apartments planned for construction in Greater Washington, he sees Brookland as one of the untapped markets in the area where there has been little new construction.