WASHINGTON — D.C. is now officially 66 acres larger after the U.S. Army formally transferred some of the land that once housed the Walter Reed campus to the District Wednesday.
More than a decade after the Army announced its base closure plan, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser cheered the transfer of land in Upper Northwest as an opportunity to bring thousands of jobs and business opportunities to the area.
“We sold the idea that the District of Columbia had to have a part in the development of the Walter Reed campus,” Bowser said at the official transfer ceremony Wednesday.
The Walter Reed Hospital, which opened in 1909, was the setting for the final moments of three five-star generals, including President Dwight Eisenhower, and hosted the care of hundreds of thousands of soldiers.
Bowser said redeveloping the Walter Reed campus will turn Upper Northwest into a shopping and dining “destination,” employing 5,000 people, hosting 3 million square feet of development and creating 400 units of affordable housing.
“Anyone with a sense of how to remake this site, you will understand what an important opportunity it is for the District,” said D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton.
Businesses along nearby Georgia Avenue have been struggling to survive since the full-time workforce left when the center closed in 2011, and they’ll continue to wait for business even as construction begins on a school, housing and other restaurants on campus.
“This new chapter is really about economic rebirth,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment Katherine Hammack.
Construction has already begun on the D.C. International School, and Bowser said she expects the hard hats will move in to begin work on real estate on campus in the spring.
Part of the sloping 100 acre campus will remain federal property.