It would take a whole lot of tune-ups to equal the return the owners of Ironwood Automotive just hauled in on their Scott’s Addition real estate.
The shop, which specializes in repairs on Honda, Acura, Toyota and Lexus cars and is owned by local couple Kayla and Aaron Williams, this month sold its building at 1704 Belleville St. to real estate developer Bonaventure for $2 million.
The Williamses bought the building for $490,000 in 2019, the same year they launched the business.
Ironwood took over the 3,500-square-foot building that was home to Cosby’s Auto Service for 40 years. The Williamses made some upgrades to the shop, opened for business and then realized they had stumbled into the path of development in one of the city’s most sought-after neighborhoods.
It turns out Bonaventure needed the 0.17-acre parcel to complete the assemblage for its planned second phase of Scott’s Edge, which calls for 203 apartments across two buildings spanning 1604-1702 Belleville St.
Bonaventure CEO Dwight Dunton III confirmed last week that the land will be part of the NoVa-based firm’s project, which is expected to break ground this summer.
“It was the last piece of the phase II project,” Dunton said. “This piece of land has always been part of the phase II building.”
The Williamses said they were approached by Bonaventure in April 2020. It was the early days of the pandemic and they’d not even been open for six months.
“We just kind of said, ‘No way, these people aren’t gonna buy this. This is crazy,’” Aaron said.
“In the end, I jokingly told Bonaventure that number ($2 million), but then five minutes later they had a letter of intent in my email inbox. I had that blood-rushed-out-of-your-face look,” he said, laughing.
Added Kayla: “It’s like they called our bluff.”
The building and the plot it sits on were most recently assessed by the city at $496,000.
The deal is another example of the ever-rising cost for land in and around the Scott’s Addition area.
Last summer, Level 2 Development and SJG Properties, a pair of developers out of D.C., paid $12.5 million for a 3.3-acre assemblage at 1117-1209 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd. That deal came out to $3.8 million per acre, and late last year local development firm Spy Rock Real Estate Group paid $9.3 million, or $2.5 million per acre, for a 3.7-acre plot at 3406 Carlton St. where it’s planning 134 condos.
The Williamses, meanwhile, said they’re not leaving the auto repair business. Ironwood will continue to operate on Belleville until the end of May, at which point they hope to have finalized the purchase of another, larger location. They said the new location is nearby, but that they can’t divulge further details yet.
“Not looking to halt operations at all,” Aaron said. “Our business is growing. We know we’d outgrow (the Belleville Street) space.”
The Ironwood Automotive name will remain, as will their specialty in Japanese-engineered cars, something Aaron’s done for over 14 years. That approach has helped them build a customer base of both folks in the neighborhood and from afar.
“A good portion of our clients are nearby. But being that we specialize in Honda and Toyota, we do get people who travel a good bit,” Kayla said.