The city’s stutter-step approach to developing the St. Elizabeths campus in Ward 8 inched forward this morning with a call for academic institutions interested in anchoring a planned innovation hub on the site.

The request for expressions of interest seeks “academic institutions or consortia that wish to serve as the academic anchor for the St. Elizabeths East Innovation Hub, an integrated center of research, education and private sector commercial activities” on the 183-acre St. Elizabeths East Campus, between the Anacostia and Congress Heights Metro stations. The city anticipates that the first phase of the Innovation Hub will be 500,000 square feet and include education and research uses.

Back in November, the city issued an RFEI for mixed-use development on four parcels on the southern edge of the campus as an attempt to jump-start the development of St. Elizabeths. But the city then rescinded that RFEI, deciding instead to start with the academic anchor so that developers could see signs of progress before bidding on the mixed-use portions of the campus.

Responses to this RFEI are due by July 26; the city will conduct interviews with selected respondents later in the summer. Once an academic institution is selected, the hope is that there’ll be more developer interest in the rest of the campus. We’ll see how it plays out.

Rendering from the RFEI