Kaplan said to be hunting law school space

By Jonathan O'Connell
Monday, November 29, 2010

Real estate developers and brokers in Southeast Washington say that Kaplan has been looking for office space suitable for the opening of a law school near the Washington Nationals' baseball stadium.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized by Kaplan to discuss the company's plans, the sources say Kaplan hired the real estate brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle and has been seeking up to 130,000 square feet in the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District, around the Nationals' park, so it can open a law school there in 2013.

Kaplan is an educational company owned by The Washington Post Co. that operates both brick-and-mortar schools and online instructional programs and schools. Locally, Kaplan Higher Education has campuses in Frederick and Hagerstown, where it offers degree programs and instruction in health, business, criminal justice and other fields. Kaplan's Concord Law School already offers law degrees online.

A spokesman for Kaplan Higher Education declined to comment.

A handful of developers in the ballpark area are in search of office tenants that would allow them to finance construction of new buildings.

"From a real estate perspective, a major use like that for the ballpark district sends a wonderful message to the marketplace overall," said P. Brian Connolly, senior vice president at Akridge.

Connolly declined to discuss the details of Kaplan's search but acknowledged that Akridge was one of the developers vying for Kaplan to lease space. He said adding a population of college students would benefit not just office developers but retailers. "It will end up being an 18 hours office-type use that will help bring restaurants, drinking establishments and other amenities down to the area," he said.

Kaplan's expansion could be hampered, however, by growing scrutiny of for-profit education companies by the federal government, particularly after an August report by the Government Accountability Office found that recruiters from some for-profit colleges had engaged in deceptive marketing practices.

Kaplan's backers argue that it offers important opportunities for low-income students. Washington is already home to law schools run by American University, Catholic University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Howard University and the University of the District of Columbia.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company