Developer Tracey Appelbaum On Washington D.C.’s Hottest New Project, Ora

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Tracey Appelbaum is an accomplished real estate developer, investor, entrepreneur and board member. She has created successful businesses and led teams in complex urban development, including mixed-use, residential, retail and commercial. She is founder and Managing Partner of BedRock Real Estate Partners, LLC. She is responsible for the firm’s investment activities, which includes building and maintaining business relationships with investors and development partners as well as sourcing, negotiating and closing investments in real estate development, redevelopment and repositioning projects in the northeastern United States. She co-founded BedRock in 2013 which to date has made investments in 17 projects totaling over $1.3 billion in assets. Haute Residence caught up with Appelbaum to discuss her latest project, Ora, which is soon to open in one of Washington D.C.'s finest neighborhoods, Kalorama.

How long have you been involved in real estate? Was it something you always loved?

Yes. My grandfather was a developer in Georgia when I was growing up. I spent a great deal of my childhood walking warehouses with him, measuring things off with my feet, looking at his plans in his office and all sorts of things. From a pretty young age, I was exposed to the business of real estate. When I was in undergrad, I really had a desire for the real estate finance courses and I ultimately started my career in 1988. At that time, it was Equitable Real Estate on the finance and portfolio management side. After four years of working there, I returned to business school. After that, it was all development or financing of development for the majority of my career.

How did you all decide on creating a development in the Kalorama neighborhood? Was it something specific that drew you all to that neighborhood?

When we first saw the building, it had been in the same hands for many decades. When we arrived to that neighborhood, we just fell in love immediately especially when you look at what you’re surrounded by like the parks, the embassies and the proximity to Georgetown. And then we got into the building and we saw the views. You can see the cathedral to the north, the monuments to the south, and you can see Virginia. It’s really unbelievable. And this was before some of the name brands announced they were moving to the neighborhood. We got so excited that we made a good choice. We were really drawn to the natural amenities that were there between the views and parks. It had a more mature feel as well.

How did you all make sure the building was preserved? Was it difficult doing the interiors at all?

We worked closely with the architectural review board. I think we had a good dialogue with them about paint colors, amount of glass used, the entryway and the exterior. In the beginning, the ground floor was our biggest complexity. We spent a great amount of time thinking about how people like to interact today. In the entrance, we have an open lobby design, and there will be open tables for people to sit and work. There will be a community room that residents can rent for private events and then flow into the main areas. The roof when we arrived had a very small strip of AstroTurf. Now, every resident can enjoy some of the most spectacular views of that area in the city. A lot of thought went into the lifestyle that we could capture, from the interiors to common areas.

What makes Ora different from other D.C. residential developments?

Because of where it’s located, it seems like it’ll appeal to people working in the embassies and a whole host of professional jobs that tend to not be the first job someone has. I think that where we’re priced and the neighborhood we’re in, we’re going to attract the renters-by-choice. Those who prefer renting because it’s the best lifestyle decision for them.

What are some features or amenities Ora will have that will cultivate community amongst its residents?

We will have parties for the residents. When the building is officially occupied, we usually have an event around that. We plan on having mixers throughout the course of the year as well. We think that in this digital age, there’s nothing more important than building community.

Photos courtesy of Tracey Appelbaum

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