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First Residential Building Breaks Ground in DC’s NoMa Neighborhood

Washington, D.C., July 30, 2007… A neighborhood block party just north of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. kicked off construction of the first residential project in the NoMA (north of Massachusetts Avenue) Business Improvement District (BID). The Cohen Companies will deliver the first phase of Union Place, ultimately planned for about 700 rental apartments, in mid-2009. Union Place is located at 3rd and K Streets, N.E.“This is a celebration of a community, not a project — a community that had the foresight to restore peace and prosperity,” Cohen Companies President Ronald J. Cohen told approximately 200 neighborhood residents gathered for the ground-breaking ceremonies and block party on Saturday, July 28.

“It was a pure grass-roots force of residents who had faith in the future and saved this neighborhood, and the leader was Loree Murray,” Mr. Cohen continued as he announced the naming of the Phase I building “The Loree Grand” in honor of Mrs. Murray, who founded the Near Northeast Citizens Against Crime and Drugs civic association more than 20 years ago.

D.C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who also spoke at the event, told Mr. Cohen: “What you are about to do here says why it is important to stay and have faith in the neighborhood. Thank you for not giving up.”

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty said the Cohen project “represents what’s great about the District of Columbia” and its developers. Other speakers at the event included D.C. City Councilmember Kwame Brown (At-Large), chairman of the Council’s Economic Development Committee, and D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) Director Emeka Moneme.

The first phase of Union Place consists of 212 apartments, about 30 of which will be designated as affordable workforce housing for families earning up to 80 percent of the area median income. The developer committed to allocating 11 percent of all apartment homes as affordable, with no public subsidy or financing, as part of the District’s Planned Unit Development process.

Also included in the first phase is construction of an interior courtyard that will be open to the public during the day, an accredited child care center, underground parking at the ratio of one space per apartment, a green roof, a fitness center, and about 4,000 square feet of ground-level retail space.

Union Place will offer seven different floor plans ranging from junior one-bedroom units starting at 516 square feet up to two-bedroom-plus-den units of more than 1,400 square feet. Upscale finishes will include granite kitchen countertops. An indoor/outdoor swimming pool opening onto the courtyard is planned for Phase 2.

Residents of Union Place will live within two blocks of both the Union Station and New York Avenue Metro stations. To enhance the pedestrian experience in NoMA, DDOT has started refurbishing the K and L Street underpasses below 2nd St., N.E. When the work is completed, the underpasses will have new sidewalks, bright lighting, and public art displays.

“We are excited to have our first residential community under construction in NoMA,” said Elizabeth Price, President of the NoMA BID. “NoMA is well on its way to becoming an all-new community with over 20 million square feet of mixed-use space to be built out over the next two decades. By this time next year, we will be under construction with seven major developments totaling 1.5 million square feet of office space, 1,500 multifamily residential units, 100,000 square feet of retail space, and 400 hotel rooms.

Mr. Cohen began assembling the land for Union Place in 1988, eventually acquiring 42 separate properties. Twenty abandoned row houses were demolished to make way for Union Place. “This neighborhood has transformed itself through the energy and sacrifice of individuals who wanted to rid their community of drugs and crime, so that their children could grow up in peace and safety,” he said.

The NoMA BID is bounded generally by Massachusetts Avenue on the south, North Capitol Street on the west, and Q and R Streets on the north; it also extends eastward just beyond the CSX/Metrorail tracks. Centrally located within the BID is the New York Avenue Metro Station, situated near the new ATF headquarters building. Private developers are investing more than $1 billion this year with plans to develop over 20 million square feet of office, residential, hotel, and retail space in the 35-block area covered by the NoMA BID over the next 20 years. For more information about the BID, including a development pipeline map, see the BID Website at For more information about Union Place, visit

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