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Shakespeare Theatre Company and developer buy land in Southwest for $6.5 million for a new campus

The building at 501 I St. SW was designed by Charles Goodman around 1964.

On Monday, the Shakespeare Theatre Company and Erkiletian Development bought a roughly one-acre plot of land in Southwest D.C. for $6.5 million. The companies plan to tear down the former Southeastern University building at 501 I St. SW and construct a large campus, which will include rehearsal studios, a costume shop, administrative offices and market-rate housing, says STC managing director Chris Jennings.

The campus will also include apartments for visiting actors and directors, he says.

“We rent about 25 apartments all over the place, so the ability to both consolidate our housing as well as own it is a great opportunity for us,” he says.

STC will sell its office space on Eighth Street SE, but will continue to operate its two stages in Penn Quarter.

The deal was contingent upon the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly dropping its historic landmark application for the building, an example of Brutalist architecture from the mid-1960s. STC and the developer donated $60,000 to the assembly and promised a variety of community benefits, such as workshops for area schools, and the group dropped the application.

The deal is a win for the neighborhood, even if it means tearing down a potentially historic building, says resident Marjorie Lightman.

“I don’t think it’s a particularly beautiful building, and it’s in very great disrepair,” she says. “As long as the new architecture is in keeping with the neighborhood and it contributes to the community culturally, it’s a win-win situation.”

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