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Tenants Band Together to Buy Columbia Heights Building

Tenants no more, a group of Columbia Heights apartment dwellers has teamed up to become the owner of its 13-unit apartment building at 1445 Spring Road NW.

The association paid $1 million, or about $76,923 per unit, for the building as part of the District’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, a law aimed at preventing, or at least slowing, the loss of affordable rental units in D.C. The sale, brokered by Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, closed Feb. 10, the last legal day before the association would have lost the ability to exercise its TOPA rights.

The sale is a relative rarity in D.C. given very few tenant associations end up being able to become owners through the TOPA process. Tenants will more frequently leverage their standing under the law to bring in a new buyer who is more open to granting them concessions or favorable treatment. Among the more active players in the TOPA market is the Van Metre Cos., which was brought on by tenant associations to buy several buildings in D.C. last summer.

Marcus & Millichap brokers Marty Zupancic and Peggy Brooks Smith initially listed the building for $875,000 on behalf of two sisters, Renee Quick-Fountain and Cheryl S. Pope. The property, developed by Morris Cafritz, has been in their family for the past 52 years and carries a 2014 assessment of $786,000, according to the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue.

Marcus & Millichap received more than 10 written offers for the property, which a local real estate investor put under contract for $1 million. That contract triggered the TOPA notification and set the stage for the tenants to band together to acquire the property.

About Marcus & Millichap (NYSE: MMI)

Marcus & Millichap is the nation’s largest brokerage firm focused exclusively on investment sales. It is based on a simple premise: matching each property with the largest pool of pre-qualified investors. With over 2,000 investment sales and financing professionals located throughout the United States and Canada, Marcus & Millichap is a leading specialist in commercial real estate investment sales, financing, research, and advisory services. Founded i­n 1971, the firm closed 8,954 transactions in 2020 with a value of approximately $43 billion. Marcus & Millichap has perfected a powerful system for marketing properties that combines investment specialization, local market expertise, the industry’s most comprehensive research, state-of-the-art technology, and relationships with the largest pool of qualified investors. To learn more about the company, please visit