Walter Reed’s neighbors get first glimpse of development proposals


Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2001. (Luis Alvarez/AP)

Richard Lake went for it.

Lake, founding partner of Roadside Development, was randomly assigned to go last when the competing teams for Walter Reed presented to residents of Shepherd Park, Brightwood and Takoma last Thursday night.

Forest City Washington, with partners EYA and the Menkiti Group, went first. Given 15 minutes to make their pitch, four presenters laid out a vision for a new park surrounded by four clusters of new development.

Following them, three speakers from Hines, Urban Atlantic and Triden Development Group unveiled their plan for town homes by Toll Bros., retail by Weingarten Realty and a Hyatt hotel and conference center.

Lake began his presentation with a three-dimensional video. He announced BlackRock, the money manager with a $25 billion balance sheet, as a financial partner.

And while all the teams talked about their connections to retailers such as Wegmans, Whole Foods, Harris Teeter and many others, Lake demonstrated exactly how and where he would build a Wegmans, showing a rendering of the store built into part of Water Reed’s massive central hospital building with multifamily housing above it.

The 2.6 million-square-foot Brutalist concrete hospital at Walter Reed, completed in 1977, could be demolished as part of the redevelopment, but Lake proposed saving part of it and its underground parking for Wegmans.

Whether Lake convinced the community and District officials that he’s the best partner for the city won’t be known until the District makes a decision, expected later this year.

Green space played a major role in the presentations. Alex Nyhan, Forest City vice president, said that his company would build a park of the “same level of design excellence” as Yards Park, in Southeast.

Hines and Urban Atlantic said parks and recreation facilities were a top priority. They named their plan “The Park at Walter Reed.”

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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