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The city has awarded the coveted right to develop the sprawling Walter Reed campus to a partnership of developers Hines and Urban Atlantic, says Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor Hoskins.
The winning team’s plan for the 67-acre site between Upper Georgia Avenue and 16th Street NW features a “town center” in the north, a commerce and science center in the middle, and a senior village in the south, with water features throughout the site. The proposal, as presented to the public in July, also includes Massachusetts Institute of Technology and George Washington University facilities, a Hyatt hotel and conference center, and an arts presence featuring Artomatic, Dance Place, and the Washington Glass School. According to Hoskins, there will be 300 affordable housing units, 75 of which are restricted to people making under 50 percent of the area median income, and 73 senior housing units.
Houston-based Hines is best known in the District for the huge CityCenterDC development it’s completing downtown. Bethesda-based Urban Atlantic’s D.C. projects include Rhode Island Row, near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro, and part of the redevelopment of the Arthur Capper-Carrollsburg public housing complex in Capitol Riverfront.
Hines and Urban Atlantic beat out two other teams in the city’s final consideration for the award. A bid from Roadside Development included a Wegmans supermarket, while one from Forest City was anchored by a proposed Georgetown University campus. Nine development teams responded to the city’s initial solicitation by the March deadline, of which the city short-listed five in April. Three submitted full proposals in July.
Hoskins says the city selected the Hines-Urban Atlantic proposal on the basis of its compatibility with the city’s small area plan for the adaptive reuse of the Walter Reed site; its affordable and senior housing; its track record on other projects; and its preservation of open space, something the community demanded.
“They have a great history in the city,” says Hoskins. “Hines is just wrapping up CityCenter, and they did a great job of working with local businesses and employing D.C. residents, and they have a very strong financial capability.”
Hoskins also says Hines and Urban Atlantic also offered the city more money than the other teams—-a factor that was also part of the basis for the city’s unpopular recent award of a parcel on Florida Avenue NW to an underdog development team. “This was the best economic deal for the District of Columbia, and that really was important,” says Hoskins. In terms of the project’s development density, which will help determine its long-term tax revenue potential, DMPED project manager Martine Combal says the winning bid proposed about three million square of development. Forest City proposed slightly more square footage, Roadside slightly less, says Combal.
Hines-Urban Atlantic’s early renderings for the site include a supermarket that looks very much like Wegmans, though Roadside was the only bidder with a commitment from the Rochester-based supermarket. “We feel very confident that they’ll be able to attract grocery retailers to the site that are in line with what the community is looking for,” says Hoskins. Wegmans, he says, is still a possibility, given that the store has already looked at the site and determined it to be a good fit.
Hoskins notes that the Hines-Urban Atlantic plan won the endorsement of both the local advisory neighborhood commissions and a consultant on the Base Realignment and Closure Commission process that led the military to close sites like the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The next step, says Hoskins, is approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development of the plan submitted by the city about 18 months ago. That will allow the city to move forward with the Army in formally acquiring the land. Hoskins expects HUD approval to come in early 2014.
The U.S. Department of State will retain control over the 43.5-acre portion of the site that’s not being handed over to the District.
Renderings from the Hines-Urban Atlantic proposal