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“Let’s discuss, for a moment, the re-development of the former Water Reed Medical Campus”

by Prince Of Petworth February 22, 2016 at 3:00 pm 34 Comments

walter reed

“Hey PoP,

Don’t know if you saw this article in WTOP. I was furious to read that Walter Reed construction won’t start for another 5-7 years!”

“Construction is expected to begin within 5 to 7 years after closing,” D.C. Council Committee of the Whole Legislative Counsel Cynthia LeFevre tells WTOP in an email.

LeFevre expects “substantial completion” of the entire redevelopment project within 23 years.

From Council Member Brandon Todd:

“Let’s discuss, for a moment, the re-development of the former Water Reed Medical Campus. I understand there has been some confusion as to the specifics of the overhaul, and, today, I aim to clear up some of your questions and misconceptions. On Tuesday, February 16th, the Council unanimously voted in favor of bill 21-474, the “Walter Reed Development Omnibus Act of 2015.” The approval of this much-anticipated legislation paves the way for the revitalization of the Walter Reed site. Following a second Council vote and the Mayor’s signature, developers will be able to break ground on the site.

As I often say, the re-development of Walter Reed is the single greatest economic development opportunity the District of Columbia has ever seen. Period. Not only will this re-development transform Ward 4’s local economy, it will also spur positive economic growth across the District as a whole. This being the case, after more than a decade of planning, I understand why there is so much anticipation to begin this project and take tangible steps forward. We stand upon the precipice of great positive change in our community.

So, where are we now? As many of you might remember, I helped officially break ground at Walter Reed this past November at new Engine Company 22 to kick off the development at the campus. The fire station is scheduled to be completed in early 2017. Next, this summer, the land at the Walter Reed location will be transferred to the developer, who will then begin preparing the land for vertical construction. After that, the plan calls for (by the fall of 2017) increased activity on the site, to include a new school, interim uses, and construction for new housing along Aspen Street.

And that’s just the beginning. This project won’t be finished overnight — but, rest assured that real, tangible steps are being taken to complete this revolutionary redevelopment project.

Neighbors, you do not have to watch this transformation unfold from the sidelines. Join the Walter Reed Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting at the Fort Stevens Recreation Center (1327 Van Buren St NW) each month to find out more information about the status of the project. The next meeting is currently scheduled for March 14th at 6:30pm.

Additionally, please utilize the following two websites as resources for any additional questions or concerns you might have regarding the project. They are:

1) www.WalterReedLRA.com
2) www.WalterReedTomorrow.com

Please continue to reach out to my office with any additional questions about the redevelopment at Walter Reed, at (202) 724-8052. I will keep you posted on all progress made as we move forward.”

  • stacksp

    So I have about 5 more years to find a decent detached SF over there. Guess I cant complain about that.

    • jack5

      Pfft! 5 years is not long at all! I know some potholes in DC that are older than that!

  • SerenityNow

    DC International is scheduled to open there in 2017, I believe. I was surprised it was so soon. There are historic preservation hearing notices up now at WR regarding construction for the school.

  • Anonymo

    Walter Reed closed in 2011 so progress is about to be made now…not in another 5-7 years.

    • Furstrated

      You’re right. That statement is very easy to misread.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I believe they meant “closing” in the real estate transaction sense of closing, not when the hospital closed its doors to patients. The closing in which the DC government will purchase the property from the United States government has not yet occurred. I am still perplexed by the 5-7 years, though. I have been attending the community meetings and they have been talking about having construction underway by 2017.

      • pjl35

        Well apparently it’s the latter, seeing as there are things expected to be completing construction in 2017…

        • HaileUnlikely

          I don’t really know what it meant, and it came from an article with a lot of weird statements.

      • CCCE

        This is bad reporting. It will not take 5-7 years to start. People are taking this persons bad reporting as truth, read the committee report, the actual timeline from conveyance is in there. It starts within months of the developer receiving the land. This really was either a failure of communication, or bad reporting, or both. Most people are taking this reporters story at its word rather than actually bother to read the source documentation and developer testimony, LRA committee meetings, etc. This is supposed to start almost immediately after it is conveyed, but I will chalk this up to journalistic incompetence, then people who keep on repeating inaccurate information.

        • west_egg

          “Most people are taking this reporters story at its word rather than actually bother to read the source documentation and developer testimony”
          Do you really expect people to pore over source documents for every news story they read? That’s the sort of thing I’d do if I lived in the immediate vicinity, but the average person shouldn’t have to fact-check every story. That’s what editors are for.

  • Frustrating

    The presentation that I attended prior to the selection of the developer made it seem as though large portions of the campus would open up for public use almost immediately and that construction would start much sooner than 5-7 years. I guess they can just say whatever they want when they present to the community. Why are we even talking about whether or not there will be a Wegman’s when initial construction is so far out? Is this a normal timeline? Everything that the District touches seems to take five times longer than it should. See, for example, the 2-4 year timeline for even installing signal priority for the buses on 16th Street.

  • Anony

    Not surprising given the speed in which the DC Govt works… Is probably a ploy to keep folks on the payroll and “relevant” through their retirement.

    What was going on for 10 years with Park Morton? People in the Government assigned to it the whole time but zero action, it will still probably be another 5 years of talking.

  • wdc

    I was fascinated to learn that the Long Island Expressway has a dedicated road crew. They start at one end, resurface it all the way to the other end, and then start over again.
    23 years from now, given the quality of construction we’re likely to see from the low-bid builders at WR, it’ll be time to start knocking things down (or assisting the falling-down process) and rebuilding them.
    BRB, going to go establish a construction company and put in a bid on this perpetual golden-egg-laying goose.

  • JB

    “As I often say, the re-development of Walter Reed is the single greatest economic development opportunity the District of Columbia has ever seen. Period. Not only will this re-development transform Ward 4’s local economy, it will also spur positive economic growth across the District as a whole.”

    I know it’s a major project and opportunity, but curious what makes it the “single greatest economic development opportunity the District of Columbia has ever seen” as compared to recent developments at Navy Yard, SW Waterfront, 14th Street, Shaw, and ongoing and planned developments near Union Market, Ivy City and Hecht Warehouse, etc. Is it a square footage thing? Is it something with the plans? (This is not meant as snark, but truly as trying to better understand the basis.)

    • textdoc

      My guess is that it’s one of the following — quite possibly #3:
      1) Highest dollar value
      2) Greatest square footage
      3) The press release is from Brandon Todd, and this is in his ward.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Agreed on all, and on likelihood of #3

        • Anon

          Heh, I’m pretty sure it’s just #3, unless of course the statement is qualified by a whole lot of fine print.

    • Cassie

      Also Gallery Place

  • David G.

    I find it very interesting that this project will take 23 years. Given the current booming real estate market in the District of Columbia and the historically low cost of capital, I’m surprised that the developers aren’t anxious to get this thing up in the next couple of years. Stretching this out over 23 years seems to me like it introduces a lot of financial uncertainty unnecessarily.

    • shmoo

      I think you underestimate the size of the site and the scope of the build out.

      • David G.

        Is it bigger than the Southwest Waterfront project, for example? That project is not going to take anywhere near 23 years from the start of construction to the finish.

        • shmoo

          I dont know how big the southwest waterfront project was, but Walter Reed occupies 113 acres of land

          • shmoo

            and ill add that with a space that big, you really have to do the build in sections. You can’t expect to build it all at one time and then magically rent out all those apartments and store fronts at one time.

          • well

            The wharf is only 24 acres, but it’s more complicated to build at the waterfront than on a relatively flat piece of solid ground.

      • Jen Jen

        I’m with you. I don’t think people underestimate the size of the campus and the fact that it was a military hospital. It wasn’t built like any old building. There will be much to unearth before they can even begin the build out.

      • Anon

        You also can’t underestimate the scope of all the organizational bureaucracy required in a project that has with Federal/military and local government entities changing multiple hands. This whole process is very complex and time consuming. Just imagine the multitude of agencies the Fed/military folks must navigate to approve the surplussing/sale. And we haven’t even begun to discuss the zoning/approval/review process of the actual designs.

    • Colhi

      Also, wasn’t Walter Reed there for a really long time? I would wonder if there are any environmental clean ups from medical waste or old building materials that could have been poorly handled 60 or 80 years ago due to different standards.

      • Maddy’s Mom

        There are definitely environmental cleanups. The work that’s been done already includes historic designations, plans for reopening the street grid, the creation of a whole new WR zone that was only recently passed by the Zoning Commission, and the involvement of dozens of players. It’s a massively multiuse project, covering 67 acres for the District’s portion. (Not even mentioning State’s portion here.) And as others have noted, the very long time horizon for the parts involving new construction doesn’t apply to the reuse of the historic buildings on the southern end of the campus that are not being replaced. Those can be put back into use much sooner, as with the school opening in 2017. At the December meeting of the Community Advisory Committee, the developers discussed a whole slate of interim uses that could begin next year and which would let the public back into the campus. Plus, the development across the street from the northern end of the campus is under way now, as the photo at the top of this post shows. That’s not part of Walter Reed, but it is 60 new residential units that should have a major impact on the vibrancy of the adjacent blocks of Georgia.

        • Maddy’s Mom

          I just went back and looked at notes from the Sept. 2015 Community Advisory Committee meeting, which included a fair bit of discussion of timelines. Community members were told that at least one of the organizations providing housing for seniors and veterans in the southern portion of the campus was hoping to start construction in 2016 and was trying to negotiate with the Army to start construction even before the land transferred. The demo of the big hospital building, which is the major environmental nightmare, was projected to take place in 2017-2018, which includes several months to do all the permitting b/c it’s such a complex job. Construction of the new housing on Fern St. has to wait till after that comes down. And construction of the new retail center, with whatever big grocery store they can get, was projected to take place in 2019-2020.

  • I Dont Get It

    President Trump will get this built in 3 years max!

    • Rich

      And it will go bankrup in 2 more.

      • I Dont Get It


  • CCCE

    Basically the WTOP article was outright wrong. BT is right on this one, and is citing the well known timeline.

  • Rich

    Beyond the bureaucracy, there are some complicated buildings on this campus. Some of the older buildings are connected by tunnels. The old Institute of Pathology goes several floors underground. The “new” main hospital on Georgia Avenue has an underground garage–it will be expensive to excavate any of that. The maintenance was terrible in many of the older buildings and in the main hospital–I worked on that campus for awhile in the 90s. I’m sure that nay of the historic buildings will require an enormous amount of work.


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