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Panel Approves Radio One's Planned Move To District

Ellis began working with Liggins to find a new headquarters for Radio One three years ago. Other partners in the project are Fairfax-based West Group Properties and Jarvis Company LLC, headed by relatives of former D.C. Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis. Radio One is also an investor in the project. NCRC, which has agreed to contribute the 27,000-square-foot parcel of land it owns on the block, will also retain an undisclosed investment stake.

The developers, collectively called Broadcast Center Partners LLC, are acquiring 23,000 square feet of additional land from seven owners around the NCRC site. Four small businesses will be displaced.

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Liggins and Broadcast Center Partners have worked closely with D.C. Council member Jim Graham, who represents Shaw and is chairman of Metro's real estate committee. Yesterday, Graham said he supports the project, though he usually declines to support non-competitive agreements. NCRC's agreement to negotiate with Radio One and Broadcast Center Partners prevents the organization from considering other bids. Metro is still negotiating its participation in the development.

"The key for this non-competitive agreement is that Radio One is going to locate its headquarters in the District," Graham said. "That is the alpha and omega of this deal. I am so impressed and thrilled at the notion."

Kwasi Holman, president of the Prince George's County Economic Development Corp., said the county had "made every effort to provide them with competitive space and a competitive deal," and still held out hope the company will stay in Lanham.

The deal, which has been batted around since at least last July, has also involved extensive negotiations with Shaw's Manna Community Development Corp. and local advisory neighborhood commissioners to help ensure that lower-income residents remain in the area and to prevent small-business owners from being priced out of the market. A housing boom in Shaw has caused rents and housing prices to increase in recent years.

Among a series of concessions, Radio One and the developers agreed to put $786,000 into a community fund for the neighborhood in the next 15 years, and the radio company will provide an additional $250,000 in scholarships for students living in Shaw to attend Howard University's business or communications schools.

Staff writer Debbi Wilgoren contributed to this report.

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