The long-anticipated redevelopment of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center began to take shape tonight, as the three teams vying to develop the property presented their proposals to a packed room of Ward 4 neighbors and city officials.
The plans include educational and science campuses, supermarkets, parks, and hotels.
Nine developers expressed interest in the site in March, and the city short-listed five in April. Three submitted proposals by July 12: Forest City Washington, Hines-Urban Atlantic, and Roadside Development.
Little was known publicly about the proposals for the 67-acre site between Upper Georgia Avenue and 16th Street NW until tonight’s meeting. Here, briefly, is a rundown of the three plans, in the order in which they were presented:
The Forest City presentation contained the fewest details of the three, and no renderings. Forest City’s Alex Nyhan described it as a “comfortable, human plan,” adding, “What we envision here is not skyscrapers.”
Nyhan’s presentation made frequent reference to The Yards, Forest City’s major redevelopment project in Capitol Riverfront. The company’s Walter Reed plan includes a six-acre park, the same size as Yards Park. It’s anchored by a Georgetown University campus, linked to several nonprofit organizations that Nyhan envisions interacting in Walter Reed’s common spaces. The plan includes retail on the ground floor of historic buildings, with a grocery anchor. Forest City has had discussions with Wegmans, Whole Foods, and Harris Teeter, but does not have a commitment from any of them.
“We got them at The Yards,” Nyhan said of quality retailers, “where the demographics are much more difficult.”
The plan, the team projects, will create $1.9 billion in new investment, $1.1 billion in economic impact, and 3,645 new full-time, permanent jobs.
The Hines-Urban Atlantic partnership calls its proposal “The Parks at Walter Reed.” It includes 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 plan has two retail options: a large retail anchor below grade, or a medium retail anchor. Like Forest City, the Hines-Urban Atlantic presenters said grocery stores like Wegmans and Trader Joe’s might be interested, but there’s no concrete partnership.
The proposal anticipates 4,500 construction jobs and 1,600 permanent jobs. It includes a Hyatt hotel, and has commitments from both George Washington University and MIT.
The plan also includes interim uses before construction is complete, such as farmers markets, outdoor movies, and pop-up retail. It would take about 10 years to complete.
The Roadside presentation began with a spiffy video rendering of the proposal, looking perhaps more urban than the other plans and prominently featuring a Wegmans store—-Roadside is the only team with a commitment from the grocer. “We’ve elegantly embedded Wegmans into the fabric of this project,” said Roadside’s Richard Lake. “Wegmans: They’re not a grocery store; they’re an experience.”
The first step in the plan would be for-sale housing along Fern Street. Elder Street would be one of the main retail corridors. George Washington University and Howard University would be partners, and Roadside’s in discussions with Marriott and Cambria Suites for a hotel. Children’s National Medical Center would have a campus on the site.
“I can’t think of a better partner than Children’s National Medical Center to bring back the spirit of Walter Reed,” Lake said. “As Wegmans is our anchor for retail, Children’s National is our anchor for institutional/medical.”
The plans also feature a community pool and garden, an agricultural center, a loop bus to bring people to and from Metro, dog parks, and ice skating rinks. Lake anticipates that the Wegmans portion of the development would open by 2017.
Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4A will be holding a special meeting on July 23 to review the proposals. The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development expects to select a developer by early fall.
(Apologies for the blurriness of the photos; I had to take them in a pinch.)
Photos by Aaron Wiener