Correction to This Article
This article about Radio One's decision not to move to the District incorrectly said that the company is the country's largest radio broadcaster. It is the largest African American radio broadcaster. Clear Channel Communications is the largest U.S. radio broadcaster.

Radio One backs out of plan to move to Shaw, D.C.

By Ovetta Wiggins and V. Dion Haynes
Friday, February 26, 2010

A deal that would have brought the country's largest radio broadcaster back to its home town has fallen apart, according to District officials.

Council members Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large) said Thursday that Radio One has backed out of its plan to build its headquarters in the District's Shaw neighborhood.

Alfred C. Liggins III, president and chief executive of Radio One, could not be reached for comment.

Graham said Thursday that he was stunned by the Radio One board's decision.

"To be told at the 11th hour that they would not be coming was quite a setback," he said. "This was a very significant turn of events."

Brown, who chairs the Economic Development Committee, said Radio One was unable to move forward with the developer. "I was told by the developer that Radio One could not meet the deadline to close on the project," he said.

"It's a tough economy out there," he added. "The company doesn't seem to be in the same position it was a while ago. The developer has to move now [on the project] and can't wait."

Radio One, which owns and operates more than 50 black-oriented radio stations across the country, has struggled with dwindling advertising revenue during the economic downturn. Its stock price in the past two years has ranged from a high of $8 to a low of 20 cents.

Now, Brown said, the United Negro College Fund will replace Radio One, occupying 50,000 square feet in the building. The UNCF "will put a learning center in the building, allowing people from all over the city and the country to apply for college scholarships," he said. "It will be another tourist destination."

Michael L. Lomax, president and chief executive of the fund, could not be reached for comment.

The project also will include retail space on the first floor and more than 200 apartments. Construction will begin in August and will be complete in about a year, Brown said.

The city and Radio One had been negotiating since 2008 on a deal for the 30-year-old company to relocate to a site near Howard University in the Shaw neighborhood, at Seventh Street NW between S and T streets.

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