D.C. developer harvests skills learned in downstate Virginia to build a portfolio of residential properties

Suzanne White, Staff Reporter
Washington Business Journal
June 22-28, 2001

Children mature faster than a tomato in August when they’re raised in rural Virginia.
They feed farm animals before school. They start work in the field at 5 a.m. all summer long to pay for new school clothes. And, in Pam Bundy’s case, she read financial statements at The Bank of Essex on Fridays for her parents, who didn’t graduate from high school.

“If they wanted to purchase a new tractor for the business, they would have me look at the statement,” says Bundy, sitting in her one-room office at 13th and Massachusetts NW “It wasn’t anything I took seriously at the time. ”

“It was a duty.”

Bundy’s life now is a serious depar­ture from the family farm in Hustle, about 20 miles outside Tappahannock.

The 39-year-old founder of Bundy Development spent the last two years adding high-end multifamily buildings to her ever-growing portfolio of D.C. real estate.

She’s hit the market at the right time. Not only is the District govern­ment stressing the importance of resi­dential development in the District, but Bundy’s two newest and largest projects — The Castle on Logan Circle and the Icon three doors down on 13th Street NW — are in an increasingly popular area where new development is scarce and in high demand.

– She refers to her opportunities as strokes of “grace”. Her peers call it patience, preparation and hard work .

Whatever it is, it is more than luck that propelled this lone developer into highly visible and lucrative residential projects in D.C.

Bundy’s roots are planted in the manual labor lifestyle of tractor-trailer driving and farmhouse living. Between her father’s hometown of Hustle and her mother’s hometown of Battery were six miles of corn, lumber and wheat farms mostly owned by people in her family. Her family farm was small, and they lived a pretty simple life, she says.

The neighborhood gathered every weekend for kids’ softball games. And the first job for most Bundy family members was picking tomatoes.

“I remembered several mornings getting in the back of a pickup truck and we’d drive about 40 miles to a tomato farm to pick tomatoes,” she says. “This is what we did all summer long. ”

“All the families worked in the busi­ness. ”

By the time she hit 15, Bundy thought she’d rather have her nails manicured than packed with dirt.

“I said, ‘I’m going to get me a job:” she says with a smile. “I was too embar­rassed.”

She was proud of her roots but curi­ous about the world outside that six-mile stretch of farmland.


In the late ‘70s, Bundy’s cousin moved from the family farm to Lincoln College, a historically black university surrounded by farms in southern Chester County, Pa. She too wanted a career that didn’t involve field work

Still unsure of what she wanted to do, Bundy followed her cousin to Lin­coln —. whose alumni directory includes prominent African-Ameri­cans such as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and poet Langston Hughes — after high school gradua­tion in 1980. Bundy worked hard in the classroom, but the cultural experience made a more lasting impression.

“My roommate was from Yonkers, New York City:’ Bundy says. “I said, ‘Yonkers?’ I had only heard of New York! I was just a little girl from Vir­ginia.”

The little girl from Virginia learned about Muslims at Lincoln, ate her first Philly cheese steak and went to the the­ater, the Bronx and New York City for the first time. She saw her first high-rise apartment and realized not every­one slept on pressed white bedsheets like she had on the farm.

“It was an eye-opening experience, she says. “I’m so grateful I had that exposure. It really helped me grow up.”

Bundy earned her a degree in psy­chology and immediately started a four-year doctoral program at the Indi­ana University of Pennsylvania. She decided after one year to get out of the classroom and join corporate America.

Bundy drove cross-country to Los Angeles and started management training with 7-Eleven’s regional office. As a corporate middle manager, she was promoted from L.A. to Char­lottesville, Va., and then on 1989 to D.C.

By 1991, she was searching for a different career track.

“I talked about buying dump trucks and I’d have ‘Bundy & Sisters’ written on the side of the truck,” she says with a laugh. “I always wanted to own my own business, but I did­n’t know what I wanted to do.”


In 1992, she took real estate courses in appraising and eventually’ was certified. She worked out of her bedroom in her D.C. apartment, living debt-free but also working around the clock to pay the bills. As an appraiser she worked with bankers, contrac­tors and property owners and saw where the real money was in real estate.

And she dug into it.

Once or twice a year she’d buy a single-family home Capitol Hill or Takoma Park, renovate it and then flip it for a quick profit.

By 1996, she was managing three apprais­ers and planning for her next big business move.

Bundy began driving through Logan Cir­cle, where Bethesda-based P.N. Hoffman was building condos such as the Logan Mansions on Logan Circle, and Logan I and II.

She was just learning the multifamily housing business when she called Marc Blu­menstein. As vice president of the home builder division at Bank of America in Bethesda, Blumenstein wasn’t surprised to get her call. Every day people who have a hunch on real estate ask him questions about how to finance their idea.

But Bundy was different, Blumenstein says. First of all, Bundy is a woman. Second­ly, she listened.

“She is clearly a woman who knows how to get it done,” Blumenstein says. “She does­n’t know how demanding she is. But she is a good person.

The year after contacting Blumenstein, Bundy found four old houses and a lot on Logan Circle that were on the market.

Big-name developers were waiting in Line to meet with the owner Bundy knew that if she was going to compete, she’d have to use lessons from the farm: Roll up your sleeves and dig.

“I get up early to get to the gym,” she says. “So almost every day on my way to the gym I’d stop in to find the owner.”

One day the owner called Bundy to her home and said, “Prove to me that you can pur­chase this property and I will sell it to you:”


Bundy, recalling her preteen years read­ing bank statements for her father, offered everything from her credit report to her own savings and stock portfolio to prove she was the right developer for the property. Weeks later, she closed on it for $850,000.

Blumenstein knew of much larger devel­opers eager to purchase the same property; but establishing a face-to-face relationship with the owner helped land her the deal. Blumenstein was impressed.

“She had the right location, she got it for a good price and she got the right players involved to help her with the project? he says. “What was impressive is she found a way into the right people quickly. It was refreshing:’

Purchasing the four houses, which later would become The Castle on Logan Circle, turned Bundy’s business upside down. She hired an accountant/assistant — her only full-time employee — and moved into her current offices at 1221 Massachusetts Ave., within walking distance of Logan Circle.

The 13-unit, 12,000-square-foot Castle, designed by architect Eric Colbert, was sold out before it opened in April.

Three doors down from The Castle is Bundy’s next project, The Icon at 1320 13th St. NW. She’s turning this vacant lot into about 19 units, which she hopes will contin­ue the area’s high-end residential rebirth.

Bundy has three more residential and mixed-used properties in the pipeline. And she’s already contemplating the next step for Bundy Development — becoming an owner/developer in other states in the region.

Yes, she admits, her hands might not be in the soil. But she’s still digging deep to get what she wants.

“It does not come without challenges, but there are many more positive days than down days,” she says. “From the beginning it was exciting because I was exploring.”

In this poignant profile piece, the Washington Post does a great job at chronicling Pamela Bundy’s ascension as one of the most well-known and respected real estate developers in Washington D.C. Click here to learn more about Ms. Bundy’s journey from a farm in rural Virginia to playing a very prominent role in reshaping the real estate fabric of our Nation’s Capital.