In researching the latest doings at Preston Center, I also delved into the zoning maps handily provided by the Task Force. They show that St. Michael’s parking lot on Frederick Square is currently zoned straight MF-1(A) which limits height to 36 feet (three stories). However, the other end of that block contains 8100 Lomo Alto and it’s part of Tract 2 of the Preston Center PD 314. And that’s where it starts to get interesting …
Fredericks Square Title has owned 8100 Lomo Alto since 2003 and lists Robert Wilson as a director. Wilson is also a member of St. Michael’s vestry (church board) as well as senior counsel and former Managing Partner for law firm HaynesBoone (specializing in real estate). The mailing address for Fredericks Square Title is 8011 Douglas, which is also the address for St. Michael’s church. So the church owns 8100 Lomo Alto.
As part of the previous story on St. Michael’s plans to upzone the eastern portion of the block, Candy wondered if church investments (real estate) were exempt from property taxes. The answer came back that only real estate actually housing church activities is exempt from property tax. The Lomo Alto office building doesn’t house church activities. St. Michael’s is currently assessed taxes of $159,032.89 or about 2.6 percent. (This compares with the 2.3 percent to 2.8 percent assessed on residential property.)
However, Fredericks Square Title is listed as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. In 2013 (latest available data), they recorded $900,583 in rental income from 8100 Lomo Alto and after expenses (property taxes, mortgages, etc.) they recorded revenues of $386,890 (which are untaxed by the Federal Government).
All this is by way of speculating that any development on the other end of the block will likely also be classed as federally tax exempt, but not local property tax.
8100 Lomo Alto Zoning
The church has no stated redevelopment plans for 8100 Lomo Alto, but I wonder. Being part of Preston Center’s PD 314 Tract 2, any structure meeting the GO(A) and MF-4(A) classifications as well as retirement living can be built. Sorry, “bar, lounge, or tavern” use is a no-no.
As for height, Tract 2 zoning appears to permit a 180-foot, 14-story building on the lot. A building could be higher, as parking lots don’t appear to count towards the 14 stories (but I may have misread that section). Tract 2’s “Subarea A” has setback requirements for “residential proximity slope” on the Lomo Alto face to avoid looming over the homes across the Tollway, but 8100 Lomo Alto isn’t part of Subarea A.
How do they build on this lot? According to SEC. 51P-314.107 listed in the PD documents:
(e) Development impact review in Tract II (including Subarea A). A site plan must be submitted and approved in accordance with the requirements of Section 51A-4.803 (Ed: Development Impact Review criteria) before an application is made for a permit for work in this district if the estimated trip generation for all uses on the lot collectively is equal to or greater than 6,000 trips per day and 500 trips per acre per day. See Table 1 in Section 51A-4.803 to calculate estimated trip generation. (Ord. Nos. 20397; 20619; 24914)
The way I read this, at 1.5 acres, a 14-story building with parking could be built without special approvals, provided the resulting use would generate fewer than 6,750 automobile “trips” per day. (For perspective, Laura Miller estimates that the trips for a 250,000 square foot tower on the other end of the same block will account for 2,750 car trips per day, well within Tract 2’s limits).
From a total square footage perspective, I’ll ignore the setbacks which indicate a building with a larger footprint would be allowable. Assuming the current 20,000-square-foot-per-floor footprint was maintained (pretty conservative for a 65,000-square-foot lot) we’d be at 280,000 square feet (14 stories x 20,000).
This size structure would not be out of place. Built in 1997, assumedly to these same guidelines, the neighboring 5950 Sherry Lane is nine stories on a slightly smaller lot with a 202,000-square-foot office building and a five-story, 250,000-square-foot parking structure (this building required those residential setbacks as it’s located in Tract 2; Subarea A).
Who Knows? DCAD Knows
For me, there’s a sure-fire way to tell if a lot is priming itself for redevelopment, and that’s to look at DCAD. This is what redevelopment looks like. From 1999 until 2007, the structure and the land were fairly equal in value. From 2008 to 2012 building values whipsawed (recession and?) in 2012 the building was still valued at $1,670,320 — and then SURPRISE — in 2013, ‘14, and ‘15 the building was systematically downgraded to $1,000 while the land zoomed up by $2,603,400 in value.
For reference, while 8100 Lomo Alto has a total value of just $6,184,080, its neighbor at 5950 Sherry carries a value of $45,250,000 – $39,908,810 for the building and $5,341,190 for the land. In fact, the basis for the land assessment is the same – $95 per square foot. With these valuations, it’s obvious which building is considered the tear-down.
It really must be true that it’s all location, location, location. St. Michael’s generates $900,000-plus a year in rent from a building valued at $1,000. Now that’s the power of prayer if I ever saw it!
I’m also guessing that DCAD didn’t do this arbitrarily, it must have been petitioned by the landowner (St. Michael’s). I mean, why else would they?
So Preston Center Task Force, be aware: St. Michael’s may be planning to drive another nail in.
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