January 21, 2011
Washington Business Journal – by Michael Neibauer
Date: Friday, January 21, 2011
Big H Street NE news: The massive AutoZone parcel that consumes much of the 1200 block has been sold.
WestMill Capital, a spinoff of Western Development Corp. launched in October by brothers Ben and Daniel Miller, closed on the deal Thursday, buying the 33,000-square-foot lot from the H Street Community Development Corp.
WestMill, which focuses on retail and mixed-use projects, paid $3.9 million for what amounts to about an acre of developable land in the heart of H Street’s entertainment district.
“H Street is the most exciting neighborhood in the city today and has the most potential to be local, authentic and dynamic, and we want to participate,” Ben Miller said in an interview.
He spoke little of the site’s development potential because AutoZone, with its 8,000-square-foot store and giant adjacent parking lot, remains a tenant there with a long-term, triple-net lease. The first thing WestMill will do, Miller said, is “go see AutoZone and introduce ourselves.”
Whatever development occurs on site in the future, Miller said, may include a substation for the streetcar line that is scheduled to launch on H Street in spring 2012. He said he’s offered the D.C. Department of Transportation the long-term answer to its streetcar powering needs: space for the substation in the development’s underground garage.
In the short term, Miller said, DDOT will have to find another substation site, perhaps one across the street.
“We bought the property because the property has tremendous long-term development potential,” said Miller, son of Western founder Herb Miller. “Our family has a 50-year history of developing major transformative projects, and we hope to continue that.”
Ken Brewer, executive director of the H Street CDC, was not immediately available for comment.