Biggest Downtown Development in America: Qatari Diar’s First US Venture

April 06, 2011 / Elizabeth Buckley, Commercial Property Analyst

Qatari Diar Real Estate is financing the 10-acre construction of CityCenterDC in Washington, DC, the current largest downtown development under construction in the US. This is the first US venture of the property unit of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, which it entered by purpose to balance its UK-heavy portfolio.

Biggest Downtown Development in America: Qatari Diar’s First US Venture

The Qataris are backing Hines, the US developer, and Archstone, the residential investor and operator, which will run the mixed-use project.

“We knew it would happen because of the quality of the site and the quality of the real estate market in D.C.,” Bill Alsup, Hines senior vice president said. “It was a matter of timing.”

The $700 million fund needed to finance the first phase is now in place. Work actually started on March 23 in the 4.5-block parcel bounded by New York Avenue, Ninth, H and 11th streets NW. The first phase is scheduled for completion in late 2013 and is expected to include 185,000 square feet of retail, 458 rental apartments, 216 condominium units, 520,000 square feet of office and 1,555 parking spaces. A 350-room hotel and another 110,000 square feet of retail are planned for a second phase.

“This project is a perfect fit,” said Mohammed Al Saad, vice chairman and managing director of Barwa Bank, whose investment banking subsidiary, The First Investor, put the financing in place. “It is the global neighborhood, the exciting neighborhood that we want to build in D.C.”

The CityCenter development team also includes D.C.’s Bundy Development Corp., Neighborhood Development Co. and Triden Development Group and The Mayhood Co. of McLean.

The Qataris are in talks over a string of deals in America, said Fadi Moussalli, regional director of Jones Lang Lasalle.

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