Even as the coronavirus crisis causes rents to fall and vacancies to rise across DC, new luxury developments have continued to open. The latest to arrive is the first apartment building for Buzzard Point, the stretch of waterfront between the Wharf and Navy Yard that was, until recently, dominated by office buildings and industrial uses.
Renters started moving into the Watermark, a few blocks from Audi Field, over the weekend. According to developer Norman Jemal, about 30 of the 453 apartments are leased, six of which are now occupied. Marketing the project during a public health crisis has been a challenge, he says, with many of the initial residents unable to see it in-person before committing. “I never expected to be delivering into a pandemic,” says the managing principal at Douglas Development (which co-developed the Watermark with PTM Partners). Despite the still-weak local economy, Jemal says he’s confident renters will continue to materialize: “I expect leasing to accelerate now that we’re doing physical tours.”
The apartments range from studios to three-bedrooms, most with water views. Rents start at $1,500, and reach into the $5,000s. For now, residents only have limited access to the building’s considerable amenities—a fitness center, roof deck, infinity pool, and theater room, among other communal spaces. Does Jemal worry these types of perks will lose their luster in the wake of Covid-19? “It won’t stay like this forever,” he says. “These amenities will once again resonate.” And his building does have one amenity most others don’t: It sits on the Anacostia River, and Jemal says a floating dock with a kayak launch will be ready for residents to use by fall.
Douglas Development bought the site in 2003, transforming an existing 1970s office building—previously home to the U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Protective Services—into the Watermark. Another apartment development that’s scheduled to open in the neighborhood soon is also in a former Coast Guard building. In total, about 1,000 new residential units are expected to become available in Buzzard Point by year-end, according to local real estate site Urban Turf.
For now, here’s a look inside the first one to arrive.