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WASHINGTON, DC-District Mayor Anthony Williams moved one step closer to his goal of developing a downtown residential district when the city agreed to sell the Mather Building to local housing developer PN Hoffman for $2 million.

The District issued a request for proposals back in February of this year. PN Hoffman was not the only developer to bid for the property, but the firm’s Steve Earle told GlobeSt.com that it deliberately went beyond the city’s minimum requirements.

The city had asked for a minimum bid of $1 million on the 78,400-sf property, which has been vacant since 1990. Given the time frame the building sat abandoned in the heart of downtown at 916-918 G Street NW, and given the substantial rehabilitation the building will need, it would not be surprising if the city offered Hoffman tax breaks and other inducements.

But Earle said no such thing is happening. “We’re a market driven developer,” said Earle, vice president for acquisitions and development. “There were no subsidies of any kind, [and] we are prepared to acquire the property within 90 days and get started.”

As a part of their winning bid, Hoffman will invest $14.1 to redevelop the historic building into 40 condominiums, 12 of which will be considered affordable housing. The affordable units will be sold for $111,000 to $165,000, and the remaining units will be sold for $200,000 to $1 million.

Hoffman has also agreed to transform the building’s first floor into an arts space, as requested by the city. That space, which will include an art gallery, dance studio, meeting space and a small auditorium, will be leased at below market rates to the Cultural Development Corp. for 10 years. The city said in a statement it expects the project, when completed, to generate $817,000 in annual tax revenue.

Hoffman might have had a leg up on other developers because since it was founded in 1983, it has focused on developing condominium housing almost entirely in Washington, particularly renovating older builders for such housing.

Earle said the principals of the firm have found a niche that was underserved when Hoffman first got started. “Each project got bigger and bigger,” and now Earle claims, “We are the dominant condominium builder in the city.”

Hoffman will start its first project outside of the city in Bethesda, MD.

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