Red shovels and hard hats marked Thursday’s groundbreaking for an expansive redevelopment of the historic St. Elizabeths campus in Southeast D.C.
First up is a building for the Whitman Walker Health System.
“It means access to quality health care,” said Ward 8 Council Member Trayon White Sr. “We have some of the highest health disparities per capita in the nation.”
Naseema Shafi, the CEO of Whitman Walker Health, said the new building will house comprehensive primary care and a broad spectrum of services.
“We will have limited radiology here — which will be an expansion for us — individual and group psychotherapy, psychiatry, nursing, public benefits, legal services, dental, nutrition, outreach and community health and we’ll have a pharmacy on the ground floor,” she said at the groundbreaking to enthusiastic applause.
The facility also will house the Whitman-Walker Institute, which is devoted to the organization’s research, policy and advocacy.
Future development at the site will include housing, new offices, retail and other amenities.
One of the developers for the broader St. Elizabeths project said he and his associates are “extremely proud” of the endeavor.
“We’re laying the foundation for more than walls; in fact, we’re laying the groundwork for new bridges. Bridges that — it gives me great pride to say — will bring one of the region’s most innovative health care providers to the campus and to Southeast D.C.,” said Louis Dubin, managing partner at Redbrick LMD.
“This space is about more than a building; it’s the realization of a bold vision to being quality health care and economic vitality to this wonderful community,” Dubin said.
The new rental apartments and townhouses that are for sale target various income levels. Around 30% of the 88 townhouses will be “affordable” with financial support from the city; the rest will be market-priced.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser told those gathered for the groundbreaking that city plans for St. Elizabeths East include a new hospital.
“We want to keep you out of the hospital, but if you need to go to the hospital, we want you to have a new hospital. And you’re going to have a new hospital, and you’re going to have one right here at St. Elizabeth’s,” Bowser said.
The Whitman Walker Building is expected to open in the first quarter of 2023.