Onyx on First, a 266-unit Class A residential high-rise community located at 1100 1st St. SE in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, welcomed Urban Investment Partners (UIP) as its new building owner and manager on Jan. 25. The completion of the sale marks the end of a one-year process in which the residents of Onyx asserted their Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) rights to have a voice in the ownership and management of their residential community. The $95.5 million purchase price marks one of the largest tenant-led TOPA sales in District history.

Onyx residents received notice in Dec. 2016 that the building would be sold, and residents quickly formed the Onyx Tenants Association (OTA) to take control of the sale process. Together, they sought the counsel of Eric Rome of Eisen & Rome PC to help bring additional buyers and development partners to the negotiating table. The result was a competitive bidding process in which Onyx residents were the clear beneficiaries.

Onyx resident Robinson Cook said, “The tenants’ association was critical in educating us about our rights, the process, and the parties who were interested in purchasing the building.”

The OTA determined their key objectives for the sale: preserve the unique community feel of the building, including key staff members; bring new upgrades and features to the building that will improve the quality of life and living experience for all residents; and ensure rent remains competitive for the thriving Capitol Riverfront neighborhood.

Following the receipt of offers from the original contract purchaser and a competing bid from UIP, the OTA voted to select UIP for building ownership and management.

Shaun Carter, OTA president, highlighted the strengths of UIP saying: “Through the TOPA process, we ultimately found a terrific, locally owned and operated development partner—Urban Investment Partners. UIP will be bringing incredible value to the residents of Onyx on First in the form of numerous additional and improved building amenities, the retention of key staff members, and a competitive rent rate agreement with existing residents. UIP committed to addressing each and every item that we asked for as residents during the TOPA process and then some. We look forward to partnering with UIP to see all of these wonderful improvements come to fruition.”

Pete Bonnell, UIP principal, echoed their excitement to be part of the Onyx community, saying, “This is a wonderful example of the entire UIP team working with residents and their tenant association to achieve a great result for all of the people living at Onyx on First. We look forward to a successful transition and partnering with other tenant associations in the District.”

Onyx residents will continue to see their favorite staff members and can look forward to new building upgrades beginning in the coming months.

By: Shaun Carter

Onyx Tenants Association President

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