The Washington Post

First look at the Walter Reed proposals

A research center by a major university, a hospital, a central park, grocery stores and hundreds of new apartments, condominiums and town homes could be in store for the former Walter Reed hospital, developers told residents of Shepherd Park, Brightwood and and Takoma Thursday night.

Three teams are competing to be selected by D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray to be named master developer of 67 acres the city is expected to receive from the Army for redevelopment. Walter Reed closed in 2011.

D.C. officials gave each team 15 minutes to present Thursday night in the basement of Tifereth Synagogue on 16th Street NW before a crowd of more than 150 people. Each presented plans that largely conformed with the District’s vision for a town center project.

A look at the three proposals:

• Forest City Washington, presenting first, promised a park on par with Yards Park in Southeast D.C., which it developed with the D.C. government and which has become a destination for residents from across the city.

Around it Forest City proposed four neighborhood clusters that would include an innovation center by Georgetown University, a retail district that could a mix of shops similar to the Yards and housing by partners EYA and Menkiti Group.

Forest City’s Alex Nyhan said retailers including Wegmans, Whole Foods and Harris Teeter could be interested. “I have no doubt that if selected they would all be happy to partner with Forest City for a great store at the Yards,” he said. Forest City expects the project to generate 3,645 permanent, full-time jobs.

• Hines and Urban Atlantic told the crowd that they had received 700 responses to an online survey they issued about the project. The top request? Parks and recreation space. So the team named their project “The Park at Walter Reed.”

Hines brought in a string of other partners: home builder giant Toll Brothers, Hyatt for a hotel/conference center and Biotrial S.A.S., a French pharmaceutical firm. George Washington and M.I.T. could serve as research partners. Urban Atlantic president Victoria Davis said the project would create 4,500 construction jobs and 1,600 permanent jobs.

“Our mission is to re-introduce the community to Walter Reed,” said Chuck Waters, senior vice president at Hines. Waters explained to the crowd some of the challenges in developing CityCenterDC, the massive downtown development project on the site of the city’s former convention center. The project required hanging on through the financial collapse and the sale of their partner on the project, Archstone.

“We have, collectively, the staying power,” Waters said.

• Roadside Development began with a spiffy video of their vision for Walter Reed. Roadside co-founder Richard Lake then announced partnerships with home builder Bozzuto Group to build six residential towers and BlackRock, the investment giant, for financing.

Lake said Children’s National Medical Center was interested in expanding at Walter Reed and he also planned a “Caregiver and First Responder Museum,” dedicated to the memory of people who served at the Walter Reed hospital since it opened in 1909.

And he spent considerable time talking about Wegmans, the grocery store that he has partnered with on other developments. He said if selected by the city he could have the store open by 2017. “Wegmans — they’re not a grocery store, they’re an experience,” he said.

For much more on the Walter Reed competition see Capital Business on Monday.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.



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