Food hall, coworking space to anchor Carlyle adaptive reuse project

Next year, the office building at 200 Stovall St. will become a 520- unit apartment complex, anchored by Alexandria’s first food hall and a 12,000-square foot coworking space. (Courtesy rendering)

By Missy Schrott |

Alexandria’s first food hall, complete with 12,000 square feet of space and 12 individual vendors, is coming to Carlyle in 2020.

The food hall will be located on the ground floor of the largest adaptive reuse project the city has ever seen, according to City Spokesman Craig Fifer. Next year, what was once a 13-story office building at 200 Stovall St. will become a 520-unit apartment complex, anchored by the food hall and a 12,000-square-foot coworking space.

Both the food hall and coworking space – totaling 24,000 square feet and divided by a lobby – will be operated by the team behind ALX Community, the coworking space at 106 N. Lee St. that opened about a year ago.

“We’re so excited, over the moon,” Kelly Grant, chief operating officer of ALX Community, said. “Twelve independent operators will work out of that space – a wine bar, a coffee bar … it doesn’t open until 2020, so we’re still on the search to find cool, chef-inspired great things under that one roof. I think it’s going to be awesome.”

Grant declined to release more information, since the company is still working to finalize design and vendors. Like the original ALX Community, the coworking portion of the space will offer month-to-month memberships for office and desk space, as well as a variety of amenities.

Perseus Realty is leading the conversion of the rest of the building into a 520-unit apartment complex.

Since it was built almost 50 years ago, the office building off of Eisenhower Avenue has been one of the largest structures on the Eastern side of Alexandria. The 665,552-square-foot concrete block had become somewhat of an eyesore after being left vacant by the Department of Defense. Perseus bought the building in 2015 with a new vision.

“It’s a very big undertaking,” Adam Peters, executive vice president of development at Perseus, said. “The building started off as 660,000 square feet with a footprint that’s over an acre, and to take on something that big, it’s probably the biggest adaptive reuse project I’ve ever heard of.”

Peters said developers in the D.C. area have been doing more adaptive reuse projects in recent years. One reason is the change in office demand.

“Trends have changed recently with the way people are working and shifting away from the old, traditional office buildings to WeWork and working from home,” Peters said. “People have become more efficient in their office demand, therefore creating some empty office buildings and therefore opportunities for large adaptive reuses.”

Adaptive reuse is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to redevelop a property, Peters said. It is also often less expensive than completely demolishing one structure and building another from scratch.

“The greenest thing that you can do is reuse a building,” Steve Smith, principal at Cooper Carry, the architecture firm working on the project, said. “Now, it’s become something that would otherwise sit empty. It was an old Department of Defense office building that is now going to bring vibrancy and people there.”

Because the structure had been an office building for nearly 50 years, the architects faced challenges while working on the project different from those that arise when designing a building from scratch. Among the challenges were outdated utilities, different code requirements and restricted and unusual apartment layouts.

“The footprint is humungous relative to typical office buildings and because of the size of the footprint, and the depth of the footprint. It’s completely atypical for a residential application,” Smith said.

Typically, apartment buildings are formatted with a double-loaded corridor with apartments on either side of a hallway, Smith said. Pre-existing structure and columns at 200 Stovall prevented architects from following this standard format.

Challenges aside, repurposing the building also had some benefits.

“They’re going to have higher floor-to-floor [heights],” Smith said. “Where the ceilings were at a lower point for the office market, they’re at a higher point for the residential market. … The windows and the amount of glazing are significantly more than you see in a lot of other apartments. It’s always a big plus. Everybody likes light.”

The complex will offer a combination of one- and two-bedroom apartments. In addition, it will feature about 20,000 square feet of amenities, including a three-story gym, two-story game room, an arts and music room, two roof decks and a large rooftop pool. The building will also have a parking garage on its second, third and fourth floors with 236 parking spaces, according to the 2017 Design Review Board concept review.

The new apartment building is situated in Hoffman Town Center, the mixed-use urban area adjacent to the Eisenhower Avenue Metro Station. While the area is currently home to a movie theater, offices and restaurants – including Ted’s Montana Grill and Cold Stone Creamery – it is slated for more development over the coming years.

In addition to Perseus’ adaptive reuse of 200 Stovall St., developer StonebridgeCarras has plans to create 930,000 square feet of mixed-use development across five acres by 2022. Their project includes approximately 700 residential units and 210,000 square feet of retail, including a Wegmans grocery store that will be located in the former parking lot for the 200 Stovall St. building.

“We could just envision what was going to happen down in the town center and we wanted to be a part of it,” Peters said. “Our two developments together is sort of like the catalyst for the whole town center really coming to life.”