How Monty Hoffman is transforming the Southwest waterfront.
It’s always a good sign when a real estate developer chooses to live in a community he created from scratch. “As they say, never trust a skinny chef,” jokes Monty Hoffman, president of PN Hoffman, the developer of The Wharf – a mile-long mixed-use development on the Southwest waterfront– who is just that confident in the product he and his company have planned and shaped over the last decade. The project unveils phase one this month, which includes high-end dining, retail, hotels, office space, two concert venues, public piers, a water taxi system and luxury condos.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND? WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BECOME A DEVELOPER?
Construction was part of my upbringing, so it’s something I’ve always known. My dad was a contractor and I grew up learning all the basics from him: plumbing and electric, framing houses and laying brick. I then earned a structural engineering degree and worked for a general contractor. But I got the itch to take what I learned and start developing things. It allowed me to be creative. My first project was a walk-up on 16th Street NW before the area was trendy. Everything took off from there.
HAS YOUR PAST EXPERIENCE IN THE INDUSTRY INFLUENCED HOW YOU LAID OUT YOUR VISION FOR THE WHARF?
Yes, it’s as if the past 30 years has been preparation for this big event. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about mixing uses and the way people interact with spaces. There have been lots of lessons learned and new patterns continue evolving. When it came to our vision for The Wharf, we studied waterfront cities all over the world and took inspiration from the very best.We also hired over a dozen independent architects to ensure diverse expression to create an authentic neighborhood.
BETWEEN PERMITS, ZONING AND THREE ACTS OF CONGRESS, THERE HAVE BEEN MANY HOOPS TO JUMP THROUGH. WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST HURDLE IN DELIVERING PHASE ONE?
Getting everybody to believe. Southwest had been stationary for half-a-century. Status quo was so strong. At first, almost no one took it seriously. Then, little by little people started “coming on board.” It’s exciting to see it come alive.
WHAT FEATURE ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO?
Well, I’m living in what we build. So, it has to be good.What I’m looking forward to most is walking out my front door and into some of the best restaurants and live-music venues in the country.Then, strolling down the Wharf and meeting friends along the way. It can’t get much better than that.
MOST ANTICIPATED OPENINGS:
MUSIC VENUES: The Anthem | Pearl Street Warehouse
RESTAURANTS: Kith/ Kin by Kwame Onwuachi | Requin by Mike Isabella| Del Mar de Fabio Trabocchi
This article appeared in the October 2017 issue of Washington Life.