October 27, 2014
Mill Branch Residential Trust made itself the first buyer in the coming Westside mixed-use project in Laurel.
The Rockville multi-family developer paid $11.7 million for almost 27 acres off Van Dusen Road on which it plans a substantial project of 484 multi-family units. The deal is the first of what are slated to be four different transactions in Westside for seller Strittmatter Companies. Beyond Mill Branch, Manassas, Va.-based Strittmatter also has contracts with other companies to build a hotel, to construct townhouses, and to build a 200,000 square foot retail center. The three pieces are under contract to three different companies.
But there’s a twist to these contracts. Because of the unconventional way in which Strittmatter came about ownership of its approximately 54 acres, some of Strittmatter’s property is still held up by rules governing annexation into the City of Laurel. Those parcels, which include the townhouse ground and some of the retail ground, must await the end of an annexation ‘hold.’
Mill Branch Residential, however, can move forward, and judging from the loan it placed on the property, appears headed in that direction. Documents recorded with the deed show that Mill Creek, which bought the land as CIP II/MCRT Westside LLC, negotiated $62.08 million in financing with PNC Bank.
Some Competition. But Mill Branch won’t be alone in building multi-family in Laurel. It won’t even be alone on Van Dusen Road, as AvalonBay Communities settled a month ago on 19 acres opposite Mill Branch and likewise on Van Dusen, where it will start in on 344 units. Like parts of Westside, AvalonBay’s property had to wait out an annexation hold, until the Alexandria, Va. firm was able to buy the site from Annapolis-based Ribera Development for approximately $9.5 million.
Here’s the ‘unconventional’ way that Strittmatter came to its current Westside holdings: the company had 65 acres to begin with, but had to give up 22 for right-of-way for a new I-95 interchange. It backfilled that property, however, by acquiring a 19-acre former Board of Education property, which was ultimately rezoned to mixed-use and provided Strittmatter with access to Van Dusen Road.