Start 2017 Early with CREW DC - "14 for 12 Months"
, join as a new member for 2017 and get all the benefits of CREW DC membership for November and December 2016 at no additional cost!
A Conversation with Kaleena Francis Lee of Jair Lynch and the Recent Delivery of Anthology DC
This issue's feature article is a conversation with Kaleena Francis Lee, a development associate with Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners (Jair Lynch) about the recent delivery of Anthology DC. The following interview is as much about the development of Anthology DC as it is about learning from the experience of a fellow CREW DC member's professional strides.
What was the timeline for Anthology DC and what milestones during the project were the most meaningful for you?
"Anthology has been a labor of so much love, sweat, and tears. I have developed over 15 projects with Jair Lynch, but most were minor in scale compared to Anthology. Anthology is a new 9-story 450,000 sf mixed-use building with 307 Class A apartment homes, neighborhood-serving retail, and a 3-level below grade parking structure. I started working on this project in 2013 and am in awe of how much we have accomplished. First, we had to make sure the design was locally inspired and illustrated creativity throughout the building from the common areas to the individual units. The industrial aesthetic fit well with the vibe of the neighborhood and seemed to resonate with the target customer base. This was very important to our team and company to create a sense of place for the 600 block of H Street and connect with the neighborhood. From there we spent the next two years under construction. There were many hurdles that I managed, but the most meaningful milestone was when it was almost finished and the final fixtures and furniture were installed where we could actually experience, touch, and feel the overall vision of the project. The lobby and common areas came together beautifully - from the projection screen in the outdoor courtyard space to the artwork and industrial sized shipping containers in the lobby to the rooftop pools with views of the Capitol. Neighborhood organizations held several events at Anthology as we were delivering the project and their compliments just reinforced our belief that the struggle was well worth it. Finally, we had closure on the project when we sold it to an institutional investor at the final certificate of occupancy."
How did you grow both personally and professionally during the course of the development?
"I have managed many development projects for Jair Lynch prior to this, but most were under $30 MM, this opportunity was a great step up for me personally. For Anthology I was responsible for and successfully obtained zoning and entitlement approvals, secured and administered construction financing, ensured project visioning, managed design and construction quality, created branding and marketing deliverables, executed retail tenant improvements, coordinated operational transition, and finalized disposition activities. This project has required so much more of me than I ever thought I could ever give and it was well worth it. I have grown so much over the course of this this project.
At the same time, I was conquering project hurdles, I took on other professional challenges, such as leading the CREW DC Programs Committee as Co-Chair, selected as Real Estate Group member and completed the ULI Mentorship Program. Personally, I got married, sold a condo and bought a new home."
Who did you ask for guidance, feedback, or support from during the most stressful periods of the project?
"My husband has been my rock. Though married only two years, we celebrated our 10-year anniversary as couple this past spring. He constantly reminds me every project seems like the hardest thing in the world at the time, but to just take it one step at a time. He is my mirror and my best friend.
As a two-person development team, you have to rely heavily on each other a lot. Our project executive, Kevin Roberts, is not only a wealth of knowledge, but has a true artistic eye. I am grateful for him having faith in my abilities and providing true leadership to ensure our success.
But with such a small team, you need to escape from each other a lot too. For that I have great group of women made-up of personal friends, CREW members, and other professional endeavors. I use them as sounding boards to troubleshoot ideas and sometimes just to vent."
When did you realize you turned the corner and you had a success on your hands with Anthology DC?
"The city's significant public redevelopment with the new streetcar line made it the right decision for significant private investment. Jair Lynch bought the entire 600 block of H Street in 2011 and then sub-divided into three parcels for a multi-phase development approach. We selected this block because it was centrally located in the heart of H Street, close to Union Station and Capitol Hill, but also it was becoming a thriving and exciting entertainment district. We knew we could contribute a strong residential product that complimented both the neighborhood's historic past and promising future. The cherry on the top was when Whole Foods announced and we knew we had a home run."
Why do you feel Anthology DC honors the heritage and improves the future of the H Street corridor neighborhood?
"What I love most about this project is the neighborhood. We had this unique opportunity to embrace a rich history and help shape its flourishing future. The H Street corridor has undergone rapid change in the last decade since it was mostly abandoned commercially after the 1968 riots. This community has taken strategic and progressive steps to keep the memory of the previous generation alive while welcoming new residents and opportunities. Our building's name and brand, Anthology, is homage to H Street's diverse collection of people, places, and ideas. I was very proud to present this neighborhood success story at the CREW EDU Summer presentation."
What's Next for Kaleena and Jair Lynch?
After the completion of Anthology DC Kaleena shared...
"I am taking some well-deserved time off in November to travel. This is my first trip to Asia and I am beyond excited. I am visiting Tokyo, Chang Mai, Phuket, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur. I was just recently certified for scuba diving and can't wait to explore Thailand's tropical waters. Traveling is a great way to expand your point of view and learn new ideas. Also, I am going to eat everything!!"
However, she is not resting on her laurels...
"I am focusing on an even bigger project on Half Street by the Ballpark (http://www.1250apts.com/) and like our tagline there is simply 'NO OFF SEASON'!"
|Michelle Kilby 2016 President
Along with almost 80 of our members, I recently returned from an outstanding CREW Convention in New York City. Similar to our own Chapter this year, Network experienced great enthusiasm and record attendance at the 2016 conference.
It kicked off with a welcome reception and the
Network Marketplace where we had the opportunity to visit exhibitor's booths and network at the lively and festive gathering. Afterwards, about 60 of our members enjoyed a terrific CREW DC dine-around. On Thursday and Friday, we were inspired by some very insightful speakers and appreciated a variety of diverse learning excursions. We also attended various concurrent sessions, bid farewell to our retiring CEO, Gail Ayers at a CREW "Gail-a" celebration and finally were entertained at a Roaring 20's style Network Foundation party.
Speakers such as retired U.S. Navy four-star admiral, William McRaven galvanized us as he spoke about making high-stakes, high-pressure decisions during his tenure as commander of U. S. Special Operations Command. Amy Cuddy talked about how we perceive and are influenced by other people and vice versa. Sallie Krawcheck's mission was to educate us on how to reach our personal and professional goals, and Mary Ann Tighe spoke about women, power, and success in commercial real estate.
We heard the latest of what is happening in the industry in the US as well as in Canada, the trends in senior housing and office space for a diverse future. Updates were provided surrounding public-private partnerships and hot trends in industrial development. We also enjoyed a host of off-site tours and learning excursions.
To sum it up, the 2016 CREW Network Convention was educational as well as informative. We came away with a better understanding of the current climate in the industry and an expanded network of business opportunities.