Filling one empty space, leaving another somewhere else. (photo from DMPED)
Filling one empty space, leaving another somewhere else. (photo from DMPED)

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A couple of weeks ago, Howard University launched a charm offensive in Ward 4, telling prospective future neighbors that its plan to move its hospital and academic medical center to the Walter Reed site was the best of the 23 proposals under consideration.

It hasn’t been doing quite as much to convince its current neighbors that the plan would be good for them.

Though the University submitted its response to the notice of interest in early March, it didn’t let its community members on its campus plan advisory committee know until mid-April, and made its first appearance at an ANC 1B design committee meeting last night. The chair of the committee, Tony Norman, tells Housing Complex that many residents are concerned about the hospital picking up stakes.

“We’re not pleased, because that’s a resource in the community that we’re going to lose,” says Norman, who also serves as spokesman on the issue for the Pleasant Plains Civic Association. “From their perspective, I guess it seems logical. But from service of the community down here, it’s not a logical or good response.”

Howard has said that it would leave some sort of medical services on the old site, but beyond that, hasn’t decided how it would use the vacated space. Losing the emergency room and trauma center, Norman says, would be a blow—the nearest one is Washington Hospital Center, which is already overused.

The Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority will start to narrow down the applications in the next couple of weeks, before doing another community meeting in mid-June. In the mean time, Norman says, Howard needs to look more closely at how the departure of its hospital would impact lower Georgia Avenue.

“The residents still don’t even know about it. They need to do more outreach,” he says. “The committee wants the city and the hospital to do an assessment on the medical services, on jobs. We don’t know the full implications of that.”