The General Services Administration has picked a Texas company to develop an apartment complex downtown near MCI Center, according to GSA sources.

JPI, an Irvine, Tex., company that is one of the nation's largest apartment developers and owners, proposes to build 405 apartments on the site on Seventh Street NW between D and E streets. The tract, which fills most of the block, includes a historic building where Civil War nurse Clara Barton once lived and worked; another building was the onetime site of the nightclub D.C. Space. The project will also incorporate a 250-seat theater and enough retail space for a small grocery store, according to a presentation the development team made earlier this year.

Though details were not available on the development, at current construction costs such a project would likely cost more than $120 million to build.

The site is the downtown location that Arena Stage had considered moving to earlier this year, before its board decided to remain in Southwest Washington.

The JPI proposal beat out bids from two other teams. One is headed by Ohio-based Forest City Enterprises; the other includes Charles E. Smith Residential Realty of Arlington and a small Washington firm, Metropolis Development Co. Representatives of both Forest City and Metropolis said they have not been officially notified of any decision.

The JPI partner handling that company's bid was not available for comment yesterday. While GSA officials had no official comment on the competition, sources at the agency said JPI won because it offered to pay more than the other bidders and because it met the other requirements, such as those involving historic preservation.

The site, known as Square 457, is the last piece of ground once owned by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp. (PADC), the now-defunct federal agency that was behind the transformation of the boulevard and nearby areas in the 1980s and early '90s. Although the PADC's most visible accomplishments were the large office buildings along the avenue, another goal was to encourage housing downtown. All major residential complexes in what is now called the Pennsylvania Quarter neighborhood were developed with some sort of PADC subsidy.

The GSA took over the site when the PADC went out of business in 1996.