Hoffman Development Inc. didn't have any plans to sell the National Science Foundation's planned Alexandria headquarters, slated for completion in 2017, but the prospect apparently was too appealing to interested buyers to ignore.
Newmark Grubb Knight Frank broker Brendan Owen, chair of the brokerage's asset services division in D.C., said several interested developers asked about buying the project while Newmark was shopping a residential development site in the same Hoffman Town Center complex. Among them was USAA Real Estate Co., which reached a deal to buy the project earlier this month from Hoffman for an undisclosed price.
The timing — and the fact that Hoffman didn't initiate potential sale talks — appears to quell some speculation in the commercial real estate community that Hoffman was having trouble financing the project. Those questions arose soon after the General Services Administration picked Hoffman to build the NSF's new home.
As he tells it, Owen approached Hoffman not long after he moved from Vornado Realty Trust to Newmark in April 2013, about two months before the GSA awarded the NSF lease. Hoffman retained Owen and Newmark to seek tenants for a newly renovated building in Hoffman Town Center, at 2461 Eisenhower Ave., and to market a planned residential development site known as Hoffman Town Center Block 11. In seeking buyers for that site, which is slated to include 642 apartment units above a Harris Teeter grocery store, several interested buyers including USAA asked about other properties for sale in the same area. That led to the NSF, and the rest is recent history.
"It was an unintended consequence of marketing Block 11, and they certainly weren't the only people touring and taking a look at it," Owen said. Meanwhile, Owen said, Block 11 could sell later this spring.
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