More than eight months after Howard University officials publicly asked developers to indicate whether they’d be interested in rehabilitating the beleaguered Bond Bread Factory site on Georgia Ave. NW, it released a list of heavy-hitters who will move forward with the next phase of development.
Eight development teams, including ubiquitous companies like PN Hoffman, JBG Smith, Eastbanc, The Jarvis Company, and Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners will submit a response to Howard’s request for proposal, per a press release the university issued Monday..
Howard is seeking to turn the former factory, along with the neighboring Washington Railway & Electric Company building, into “an energetic, vibrant attraction” with “a ground floor use, that creates a 24-hour work, shop, eat, live, play destination.” It cited spaces like Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market, Houston’s East Village, and Chicago’s Fulton Market as ideal models.
The site was the subject of an at times contentious, decade-long legal dispute that ended last month after an appeals court ruled that Howard would remain in control of the 2.2-acre property.
“This project is a unique opportunity to have Howard University actively participate in the revitalization of our community. We are leveraging property that we own to generate jobs, diversify the value chain, and ultimately enhance the local community experience. Further, we take proceeds from these kind of deals and reinvest into other campus projects,” University President Wayne A. Frederick said in a statement also released Monday.
News of progress at the site is likely a welcome one for Howard officials, who have come under fire in recent months for what students and faculty have called neglect of the university’s campus. Students of the university held a week-long sit-in this spring to protest housing conditions and alleged financial fraud, likely the longest public demonstration in the school’s history.
But some of the companies listed as likely participants in Howard’s RFP are already familiar to those in Howard’s orbit, and have been the cause of consternation to onlookers frustrated by the school’s apparent refusal to invest in affordable housing. Jair Lynch, for one, recently entered into a 99-year ground lease with the university for Meridian Hill Hall, a former dormitory that the company will turn into a 200-unit luxury apartment building. Howard also recently sold two of its dorms, Slowe and Carver halls, to developers for non-university residential use.