Former mayor Marion Barry opened the Reeves Center as a D.C. government office building in 1986 with the intention of bringing business to a corridor still scarred from the 1968 riots. Today, it sits at the intersection of two streets bustling with restaurants, expensive stores and high-end apartment developments.
But the building itself has seen better days. The D.C. government has in the past contemplated demolishing it or swapping it as part of a deal to build the Southwest D.C. soccer stadium.
Instead, the city decided to renovate it into a mixed-use complex including housing and office space. And with Monday’s announcement, the new project has a high-profile tenant.
A timeline for the NAACP’s move has not yet been announced.
Derrick Johnson, the president of the 111-year-old organization that has been at the forefront of civil rights activism for generations, said moving the group’s headquarters to Washington will better serve its mission.
“This exceptional opportunity to bring our national headquarters to DC will allow us to be even more proactive in serving the Black community, and confronting the serious challenges facing the nation,” Johnson said in a statement. ” … As we have witnessed over the last month, our country is on the cusp of real change that is long overdue. A new home in Washington will allow us to not only fully participate in the growth of this great city, but to also amplify the voices of the Black people as we fight for the crucial policy changes and economic empowerment needed in communities across the country.”
In a bit of historical kismet, the building’s name already suits its future occupant: Frank Reeves, the building’s namesake, was an NAACP lawyer who helped shape the Brown v. Board of Education lawsuit that desegregated America’s schools.