Go big or go home. When Monday Properties broke ground in 2010 on 1812 North Moore, a 580,759-square-foot, 390-foot-tall office building, it was thinking big. The structure would soon be the tallest in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area—no small feat in itself—but with no tenants or financing in place before construction began, it was also a huge risk for CEO Anthony Westreich. But, despite the project’s initial critics and naysayers, Monday Properties remained confident in its Rosslyn, Virgina, skyscraper.
“This was a $300 million spec building,” says James Berkon, the company’s vice president of design and construction, who was responsible for many of the day-to-day tasks associated with 1812 North Moore. “But, given our experience, we felt it was a perfectly reasonable bet to make.”
Founded in 1998, Monday Properties has made a name for itself by concentrating on two of the world’s most competitive and lucrative real estate markets: New York City and the DC metro area. And it’s beating the competition in these markets, too; since 2002, the firm has completed more than $10 billion in transactions, and it manages and operates its portfolio, comprising 6.5 million square feet, at a healthy 90 percent occupancy. Monday Properties already owned a third of the office space in Rosslyn at the time of the 1812 North Moore project, and its robust knowledge of the area gave the company the confidence to take a calculated chance on the building.
Monday Properties began construction on the project out of pocket, but in 2013, working with financial partner Goldman Sachs, the company earned its development a $200 million construction loan from Pacific Life Insurance. Goldman Sachs partnered with Monday Properties after buying a 78.5 percent stake in the developer’s portfolio from the bankrupt Lehman Brothers. The big bank has committed to the building, providing equity until it acquires significant leasing, but the wait likely won’t be long, given 1812 North Moore’s wealth of amenities.
DC metro is considered a premier market and Rosslyn, just five minutes away from the Pentagon, with much lower operating expenses for real estate, has long been a prime location for the area’s wealthy, young, and highly educated. In 1964, Interstate 66 linked Washington directly to Rosslyn, which spurred its first development boom, and the DC metro area’s extension into Rosslyn in the late 1970s—as well as the Vietnam War-era expansion of the military-industrial complex—generated even more construction. Today, it’s a small, prosperous market, so the need to be best-in-class prevails.
“Rosslyn’s superlatives are unlike and virtually unmatched by any other community in the United States,” says Tim Helmig, Monday Properties’ chief development officer. “1812 North Moore Street is a remarkable building that will cater to Rosslyn’s exceptional market attributes.” The company is operating with the idea that, to stand out to the best, it has to offer the best, so it has created what it sees as a trophy-class structure.
On the outside, the property is a skyline-altering, glass-curtain-wall-clad symbol of Arlington County’s premier office market. Inside, the 35-story structure features luxe elements such as a limestone-lined lobby, a feature wall made of Calacatta Borghini Italian marble, and nine-foot-tall ceilings. Post-tensioned beam construction with reinforced slabs was used to achieve an almost column-free interior layout that will provide future tenants with flexibility and, of course, more space. The floors average 22,900 square feet in area, and each includes 580 linear feet of continuous window line, adding to the building’s lush atmosphere.
But, while the structure stands as an ode to extravagance, it’s built on a green foundation. Monday Properties paid special attention to the building’s environmental impact, including countless hours spent evaluating materials, detailing the lobby, and installing the rooftop pyramid made of steel trusses. The property is now certified with the USGBC’s highest rating: LEED Platinum for Core & Shell—a rarity for privately developed office buildings in the United States and almost unheard of in Virginia.
“The best view of DC is from Virginia, and by having the tallest building in the area, we offer a monumental view of the capital,” Berkon says. To create that unparalleled vantage point, it was essential that Monday Properties build in Rosslyn, which is located in Arlington County. The structures in Washington, DC, proper are held to an unusual height restriction, but 1812 North Moore exists within a two-block boundary that permits rezoning to heights of 390 feet, with a buildable-floor-area ratio of 10—far more than DC’s standard 158 feet and 3.8 ratio. The FAA set limits on the building’s height, and Monday Properties then built to the edge of those limits.
“The best view of DC is from Virginia, and by having the tallest building in the area, we offer a monumental view
of the capital.”
—James Berkon, VP of Design and Construction
Through the long-term relationships the company has developed during its tenure in the DC metro area, it was able to purchase additional air rights from Virginia Electric and Power Company—in the form of the two-and-a-half-story, 1960s-style Dominion Virginia Power Substation, a bunker that, according to Berkon, Monday Properties transformed from “an eyesore to an asset.” The firm agreed to create a new façade and new overhangs for the substation by cladding the facility in aluminum and stone panels and introducing public art elements, and the addition brought the developable site to 600,000 square feet total.
Though its most noticeable aspect is its height, the building’s healthy connection with what’s across the Potomac River is what makes it so valuable. It’s sited near four bridges that link Virginia to DC, and the Rosslyn Metro station is also close. Located where the Orange and Blue lines converge, just three minutes from Washington proper, the terminal is the second-most used in the entire system, with approximately 33,000 passengers per day. Monday Properties has actually planned a two-story, 8,500-square-foot restaurant space at 1812 North Moore in the hopes of capturing some of this foot traffic.
As a benefit to the county, the company allocated $5 million of its construction funding to the sprucing up of the surrounding streetscape, the Rosslyn Metro station, and the Metro’s commuter store. The improvements included new lighting and flooring and a revamp of the existing skybridge, but they also introduced additional challenges. Moore Street is an important transit street for the Metro, so rebuilding it without disrupting pedestrian and street traffic proved difficult. And, Monday Properties also had to schedule an excavation for a three-and-a-half-level, 480-space below-grade parking structure—an excavation that entailed rigorous planning to ensure that blasting and digging would not disturb the underground Metro or substation.
The firm’s understanding of the DC marketplace is decades old. Stanley Westreich, Anthony’s father and the former CEO of now-defunct Westfield Realty, actually erected the building that was demolished to make way for 1812 North Moore. The original structure, which was built in 1962, was, at the time, one of the area’s largest. So, in a way, Monday Properties’ latest project can be seen as a direct monument to the senior Westreich’s real estate legacy. And with its height and its pyramid-shaped top, it also serves as a nod to the area’s largest structure, the Washington Monument.
Extending the familial connections is Tim Helmig, the company’s executive vice president and chief development officer, who is also Anthony’s brother-in-law and a former Westfield partner, and whom Berkon considers 1812 North Moore’s “mastermind.” Monday Properties acquired the plot for the project in 2006, but Helmig had been dreaming up plans for it for more than 10 years while at Westfield. So, in short, the work was a long time coming.
1812 North Moore is meant to spark a revitalization of the Rosslyn community and lure commercial tenants away from crowded downtown DC. With 24 floors of office space, five total levels of below-grade parking, and, most importantly, up to $100 million of savings on its 20-year lease when compared with similar sites in downtown Washington, the building stands on its own.
But, Monday Properties isn’t finished. It’s readying itself for a longer future in the area with two more projects: another office tower and a residential tower. Together with 1812 North Moore, they signal the area’s return, and they’ll help Monday Properties maintain its deep local knowledge.