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Park Triangle Building for sale in Columbia Heights

by Prince Of Petworth July 11, 2011 at 11:30 am 34 Comments

A PoPville twitter reader writes:

“With Park Triangle in Columbia Heights up for sale, can you point readers to what happens if an apartment building goes condo?”

The reader is referring to a Washington Business Journal post:

Park Triangle, a luxury apartment complex in Columbia Heights that was completed in 2006, is on the market.

Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. is marketing the 117-unit building on behalf of its owner, Mid-Atlantic Multifamily Group. The building also includes 18,500 square feet of ground level retail space at 1370 Park Road NW.

This is the building above the Columbia Heights plaza.

We had a similar discussion when the nearby Allegro was foreclosed and later sold.

For the Park Triangle building I would be very surprised if the new owners immediately convert it to condos, I’d guess it will remain rentals. But just out of curiosity – does anyone know what happens when a rental building is converted to condos? Does the tenant get first dibs at a purchase?

For those who live at the Allegro and stayed through the sale – did you notice any changes? Was your rent raised/lowered?

  • Ward One Resident

    Since the 95-5 loophole was finally closed, no matter how much of a building is sold if the new owners wish to convert it condos, apartment renters get the right of first refusal.

  • ET

    The WaPo has the Q&A – that might be helpful. It seems that the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act is the relevant legislation.


  • ML

    I live in the building. I am pretty sure we don’t have a tenant’s association (or I haven’t seen a meeting notice in the last 2 months). We should probably get around to forming one with the building up for sale.

    • HH

      ML, I’m in the building too, just moved in. I agree some sort of tenants association would be valuable, at a minimum to keep everyone in the loop. Start a Facebook group or something? (Not the management company’s Facebook Page, an independent group.)

      I tend to agree with others — I tend to doubt that most people will want to convert to condo status at market value, and I certainly doubt that most people will want to pay more rent. If it’s for sale just for the original developers to cash out, with someone new just taking over cashing the checks, that’s probably a good thing…

  • Beth

    Tenants actually get first purchase rights of the entire building if they form a tenants’ association and assert their intent to purchase. You can then enter into a contract with whomever you want to buy the building and transfer your right to buy, rather than take your chances with whomever deals directly with the current owner. Which means you can as a group pick someone who wants to convert to condos, remain rental, do upgrades, NOT do upgrades, etc.

    They absolutely cannot convert to condos without a majority of tenants consent.

    I happen to know since my building just asserted our own rights last week!

  • joker

    Forming an association and asserting its rights is kinda pointless when you are talking about a brand new, market rate bldg. You aren’t going to get a “deal”, the seller doesn’t have to sell to the association for less than they would sell to someone else, so you are going to go through all that effort (and some money) to pay retail for the bldg.

    Unless you were extremely attached to your unit and couldn’t ever think of leaving I am not sure what the point would be. On top of the fact, that most of the people who live in that bldg are young professionals who could afford to buy, but have purposely chosen not to for a variety of reasons.

    • ML

      I may be able to afford to live in the building, but I haven’t accumulated enough savings to afford whatever price they might put on the condos. I also moved in 2 months ago. I doubt the tenants could come up with whatever the muli-million dollar price tag either.

  • Kustie the Klown

    Back in the day I lived in a brownstone in Dupont with 5 apartments (one per floor). Our landlord sold the building and we tenants went thru the process of filing paperwork with the city to form a tenants’ association. More than anything we were just trying to stave off rent increases by the new owner and buy time in general. All i basically did was sign some documents here and there, and then i was secretary of the tenants association so i took notes at our “meetings”.

    As one of our deadlines approached, we had to declare our intent to match the sale, or else we would forfeit our ROFR. So we did, and that bought us another 90 days or something. However, in the meantime one of the other tenants who worked in real estate development actually put together the materials and ran the numbers and marketed the building to developers as a renovation/flip investment. In a matter of a couple of weeks he found a buyer.

    In the end, in return for assigning our ROFR each tenant was paid $10,000 on the spot. Then we got another $10,000 upon moving out and $5000 upon the last tenant moving out.

    Easiest $25,000 i’ve ever made! Good times.

    • victoria

      Yeah, extortion is generally pretty easy.

    • Scammer

      Way to scam the system and force people trying to make a living to pay you for doing nothing but stall! This kind of mentality is slowing down the renovation and rebuilding of lots of residencies across the city. If you rent an apartment – you should realize you don’t get to live their forever – that is just how the system works.

      • Anonymous

        You REALLY wouldn’t take the $25K?

        I definitely would.

      • mphs

        Lemme check:

        Seller: got paid the sale price.

        Buyer: got the building at the sale price, and for $25k/per got an empty building, too.

        Old Tenants: Got $25k to move out.

        New Tenants: Chose to live there and pay whatever rent, or bought their condo’s at whatever price.

        So, who got screwed?

        • joker

          Reading comp is key.

          The original residents had no intention of buying the place. They simply wasted upwards of a year of everyones time to, as I quote “stave off rent increases by the new owner and buy time in general”.

          The plan was to force the owner into playing a game of paper footsie to keep the rents lower than market rate. 1st person that got screwed, the owner, by not only forcing him to keep rents lower, but by wasting `9 months of his time and money (lawyers, lost opportunity cost of selling it for more, additional finacing etc)by submitting for a ROFR you knew from the get go you had no intention of using.

          Then at the last minute, after you screwed the owner for nearly a year and got the ROFR you had no intention of using, you got lucky by finding someone else to take your contracts off your hand. This is the second person that got screwed, because this guy had to shell out an additional 100K (additional wait time while you all moved out, additional finacing considerations, legal wranglings with the city and months spent dealing with additional paperwork etc).

          Person 3 who got screwed was the ultimate buyer who paid a price for the place, inclusive of the buyers bribe you forced some guy to pay because you were gaming the system.

          I really do love the juvenile view many on the blog have of “developers”. You think that arbitrarily screwing (i.e. stealing) from some nameless developer is fine because well, they have more money than you, but at the same time go all scorched earth when some yokle from your neighbhood drops trash on your lawn or steals your bike off your porch when its the same exact thing. It’s this pissing up hill mentality where it’s ok to screw over anyone else who has more money than you.

          DC’s tenant laws, like so many of its laws and regulations do nothing more than enable lazy folk getting something they aren’t entitled to.

          So in conclusion, yes krustie the clown and cohorts where nothing more than a bunch of whiny d-bags on the lookout to get something “gettin’ paid” they weren’t entitled too. In other words, he was the same ‘hood from the ghetto all of you complain about here on a daily basis.

          • victoria

            Joker – sometimes you annoy me – but right now you’re kind of super-hero-y!

          • Veronika

            this made my day

          • greent

            Waaaaaaa poor developers.

            There has been a massive rush in teh last 10 years to build new condo’s, yet the number of ‘affordable housing’ options has decreased.

            “It’s this pissing up hill mentality where it’s ok to screw over anyone else who has more money than you. ”

            Right, because the last 30 years of laissez-faire trickle-down pissing downhill mentality is soooo much better.

          • Tres

            You and victoria should totally become roommates. One of you will be slightly more sloppy and like ketchup on everything, the other one will be neat and like ballet.

            joker, I’ll agree with you that DC’s tenant laws/rent control *might* have the affect of raising rents across the city, but I’ll disagree with you on the points that anyone got screwed in this deal. Developer made out OK, ultimate buyers made out OK (for reasons I lay out below); the seller may have had to drop his price, but *only* in the case that the buyout was above average for this kind of deal. If so, the cost born would be borne in some combination by the developer and seller, and would be in the amount that the buyout differs from the average buyout. Example: average buyout for 5 unit building in Dupont is $80k. This buyout is $45k over that number, and the developer is compelled to increase their budget over what they expected or negotiate the seller down a little. In the end, the developer still has to put the units on market at close to market values. Maybe he tries to eek out another $5k from each buyer, in order to cover some of the $45k additional expense, but there’s no way he can sell his units for a $25k above what other neighborhood units are selling for just because. Real estate doesn’t work that way.

            Also, if buyouts are standard practice because of local laws, you’d be a fool to *not* take a buyout. That’s leaving money on the table. I mean, I suppose you could refuse on principle… then again you can’t pay your mortgage/rent with principles.

          • joker


            You are being naive if you think that a “developers” full cost of doing business isn’t pushed to the ultimate customer.

            Your head is in the sand if you don’t accept that a significant reason that housing is so expensive in this town is because of the large and mature “gaming culture” involved in the process that is actually a commomly accepted “in-the-books” legislation in DC. The WaPo has had dozens of illustrative examples of people getting screwed because they pushed too far in trying to get a piece of something that wasn’t theirs to begin with. No developer is going to pay (example numbers) 10K for something and then sell it for 9K. No, they instead have to cover a higher cost basis by turning what was going to be an average condo into a lux one, or making all the units smaller, or by turning it into a high price rental (which the blogosphere hates). The developer will pay whatever (up to a point), but that price point then drives the rest of the project and is passed on to the eventual user.


            You have no idea how the developer made out. You made up a bunch of self serving examples out of thin air, then called it gospel.

            The only things we know is this:

            1. Residents gamed owner for a year knowing from the outset they had no interst in buying.
            2. Owner lost out on additional rents the entire time.
            3. Owner had to foot lawyers bills the entire time dealing with both the tenants and the city)
            4. Owner lost out on opportunity costs in selling at a higher price, which he obviously could have done.

            And here is a slight tweak of your last paragraph to show how juvenile and entitled you are being, and don’t even recognize it:

            “Also, if staying on welfare your entire life is standard practice because of local laws that have no time limit, you would be a fool to *not* stay on welfare. That’s leaving money on the table. I mean, I suppose you could refuse on principle… then again you can’t pay your mortgage/rent with principles.

          • greent

            Joker: you are a shrill for the rich and powerful folks and a rude sob to top it off. your constant name-calling makes me believe you are a spoiled brat single child of weathly upbrining. It’s the only way you can be such a prick. (see what I did there)

            Developers are in business to make money and that is all. If they could not make money, they would not buy the place. Boo hoo for them. The tenants did not game the system. The tenants did what was in their rights to do. I doubt you woyuld complain if the business did what was in their rights to do, while gaming the tenants. Oh no, you would never do that.

            14th Street has more condos on it that they had 15 years ago. Many sit empty. And yet affordable housing options have gone down.

          • Tres

            Sigh. joker, I could easily say you made up a bunch of stuff and called it gospel, but that wouldn’t actually be an argument in and of itself. Here’s where you misunderstand how a deal like this works —

            Let’s say the developer aims to make 25% on each deal. If this particular situation is different and he can only expect to make 20%, he may choose to eat that 5% difference. (Really, he’d at least attempt to push it off on other parties, but he’d have to accept the most likely outcome of him not being able to accomplish that.) Obviously, we don’t know anything about the specifics, except that the developer thought he was getting a reasonably good deal because he bought the place.

            The seller didn’t get to sell when he wanted to, however the tenants actually found the buyer that made the offer he accepted. In other words, the *best offer* was from a buyer the tenants brought to the table. For all we know, they helped his bottom line. I don’t buy that a few extra legal bills affected the seller significantly. Cost of doing business.

            Now, on to your other point. If you are broke as dirt and offered welfare, yes, you would be a fool to not take it. What if your life changed tomorrow due to a tragic and catastrophic accident you caused, and you were made extremely poor? Would you refuse welfare or Medicaid because of principle? Hell no. You’d be in line like everyone else.

            Now, I think you’d assume you’d work your way out of poverty and regain your life as it was — which might indeed happen. If you really want to re-work my words, a more apt construction would be:

            “Also, if enrolling on welfare as a one time thing is standard practice because of local laws, you would be a fool to *not* enroll on welfare.”

            The tenants only did this once, not their whole life. Big difference there, logically speaking. However, I do agree with you that welfare should not be a lifelong option — it should end after a certain amount of time, say 2 years tops.

          • Anonymous

            If you own rental property in DC you better know how the system works.

            It’s capitalism plain and simple, lots of individuals out for themselves using the laws to make money / save money / default on money / borrow money / do crazy shit with money.

            Nobody said it was nice or “right”.

      • Anonymous

        actually, the way the “system” worked was they they all got a ton of money for having to move. doesn’t sound like they did anything illegal. thats the system jack.

      • Tres

        We can’t be sure they did anything besides ensure a developer would take the building (rather the kind of investor who’d keep it as rentals), which is actually what you’re arguing for.

        Yes, they did cause some delay — but had they given up their rights on day one, there’s a chance building could have fallen into the hands of someone who’d do minimal or no improvements. Instead, they courted a developer with enough wherewithal to factor in $125k to their budget for the buyout, which is a good sign regarding the stature of that particular developer.

        • victoria

          Or by forcing the developer to pay an extra $125,000.00 – they forced all the new tenants to pay much higher rents or forced out a lot of potential new condo buyers who couldn’t pay an additional $25,000.00 per unit. But that’s alright- the suffering tenants can always post on a blog about how there is no affordable housing in DC

          • Tres

            They didn’t force the developer to do anything — the developer can choose to not buy if they can’t make a good profit. The move out fee for condo conversion is cost of doing business — every good developer is already factoring a buyout of some size into their budget.

            Also, the developer can’t offer the flipped condos at $25,000 over prevailing market value. That’s not how real estate works. If I’m $100k underwater on my house, I can’t list $100k over its value just because. I can try, but it’ll only sell after a close to a $100k price drop.

          • BF

            It’s called capitalism. Developers practice it all the time and get what they can out of a deal. Nice play by the tenants!

          • IsoTopor

            Forcing the developer to pony up $25k per tenant didn’t raise the rent the new tenants would pay at all. The developer will charge the new tenants as much as the market will bare, regardless of any cash payments to get the original tenants out. If paying the old tenants destroyed the profit margin of the developer’s project, they just wouldn’t have done it. If you don’t think this sort of thing should be legal, tell the DC Council to change or get rid of the law.

          • Anonymous

            The new tenants CHOSE to pay the higher prices, probably to live in a renovated building, with fewer low income neighbors.

            As for the old owner: he bought the building knowing the rules. He knew his return on investment was less than if he’d bought a tech stock or orange juice future. He could have bought out the tenants, first and sold for a higher price.

        • victoria

          Tres – you are wrong, deluded, misguided, etc. on so many levels – but I am (and most are) too busy with real life to refute point by point. Just please – try to consider rational thought, human nature, greed, motivation, etc.

          • Tres

            I actually generally appreciate your perspectives as someone with more life experience and knowledge than me, but here my intuition about what may have occurred were more true to what actually happened.

    • Anonymous

      fucking awesome. what did you do with the cash?

      i swear, getting paid for property you didn’t even own is pretty damn sweet.

      • Kustie the Klown

        I paid my rent for the next year in a new apartment, built the pedalboard of my dreams and bought my dream guitar, and had some cash left over.

        As for the old building, the developers renovated it and sold the units off as condos. My landlord was fine with it all, he encouraged us to go for whatever cash we could get, and we are still friends. There are an awful lot of “experts” on this thread who know gobs of things that just simply aren’t so.

        Did you know that it would actually be AGAINST THE LAW for the landlord to do anything to obstruct the tenants exercising their rights? Also, you can’t sell the building and then raise the rent on the current tenants. That’s against the law too. Once the initial sale is made, if you don’t keep up with your statutory deadlines, you lose ALL your rights and basically end up royally screwed.

        I guess the first guy who tried to buy the place kind of got a little screwed–his purchase money ended up going into escrow for the duration. But, at the same time, he had filed paperwork to move into the smallest, worst unit in the building (up 4 flights of stairs), to make it “owner-occupied”. He obviously had no intention to move into that apartment, and was HIMSELF gaming the system to break out from under the rent control that was in effect. This was going to cause our rent to go up substantially.

        But did we gripe on the innertubez about how ghetto and wrong the buyer was for setting us up to be rolled?

        No. We found a way to not only prevent this from happening, but to profit from it! Where’s the wrong in that?

        The only person who came out truly screwed in all this was the D-bag who bought my old unit. It was around 600 square feet, and he paid over $600k for it.

  • Hispanic and Proud

    I used to live in Allegro and it was loud. When it was time to renew my lease the rent went up and was not offered any real incentive to stay. Now they are offering two free months to people who want to rent there.

    • Rosie

      two free months is nothing when you are paying that crazy-high rent. Especially if you plan to stay for more than one year.


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