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Radio One in Talks With D.C. Officials Over Return to City

By Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Radio One, the country's largest radio broadcasting company targeting black listeners, may be returning its headquarters to the District from Lanham in a proposed deal that would require the city to provide $22 million in public financing, according to city officials.

The 70-station urban radio group would be the anchor of a 330,000-square-foot development atop the Shaw-Howard University Metro station on Seventh Street NW, a few blocks south of Howard University, where company chairwoman Catherine L. Hughes began her legendary career as a broadcaster and later a businesswoman.

For more than a decade, Hughes ran her company from a storefront on H Street NE and later the NBC complex near American University in Northwest.

Radio One moved to Lanham in 1997, lamenting that the city's economy was declining and professing that Prince George's County and Maryland were pro-business.

The deal being negotiated by city officials, if approved by the D.C. Council, would bring Radio One "back to its District roots," said Neil O. Albert, deputy mayor for planning and economic development.

Radio One representatives did not return calls for comment.

Speaking at a hearing of the council Committee on Economic Development, Albert said yesterday that a deal could be finalized by next month.

Valerie Santos Young, chief operating officer for Albert's office, said in an interview that the $22 million financing package could be introduced to the D.C. Council by mid-October, but city Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi must approve it first.

Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who has pushed for the revitalization of Georgia Avenue, said he will support the proposed deal.

"We have given significant subsidies for all manner of development. Why would we hesitate here?" he said. "This is the premiere African American broadcast company."

If the negotiations go as planned, the group of developers behind "Broadcast Center One," would break ground as early as February and would complete the project by 2010, said Steven Cassell, vice president of Four Points, one of the developers.

City officials consider the proposed $115 million development a catalyst for Georgia Avenue -- a main thoroughfare that extends north from Seventh Street.

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