From EYA to MIT: What developers plan for Walter Reed

Rendering from the Hines-Urban Atlantic development team of their vision for the property.
Rendering from the Hines-Urban Atlantic development team of their vision for the property.
Rendering from the roadside development team of their vision for the property.
Rendering from the roadside development team of their vision for the property.

The three teams vying for the master developer role at Walter Reed presented their broad plans to the community Thursday night, each bringing a collection of high-value institutional, residential, financial or retail partners to the table.

The meeting provided the general public a first glimpse of how Forest City Washington, Hines/Urban Atlantic and Roadside Development hope to transform 66.57 acres of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center from an isolated, gated campus to an open, environmentally sustainable neighborhood and commercial center.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime, not only for the community, but for the whole city,” Victor Hoskins, D.C.’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development, told a standing room only audience in the stifling hot Tifereth Israel basement.

The teams presented one at a time, in 15 minute increments. No details were released in advance, and their presentations will not be available publicly until Friday.

So if I miss anything in this initial rundown, my apologies.

“What we envision here is not skyscrapers, and it won’t be a downtown office campus,” said Alan Nyhan, Forest City Washington’s senior vice president for development, who presented first.

Forest City’s proposal includes five “eclectic neighborhoods,” an innovation campus centered around partner Georgetown University, homes from EYA and L&M Development Partners, a 6-acre “best in class” park and, more generally, 35 acres of open space.

“For us,” Nyhan said, “it’s about people, not buildings.”

The partnership of Hines and Urban Atlantic call their project “The Parks at Walter Reed.”

While heavy on green space, the team promises to enliven Georgia Avenue NW, bring local, regional and national retailers to the site, and develop a “science and commerce center” with tenants such as France’s Biotrial S.A.S., the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the George Washington University.

Their partners include Houston-based Weingarten Realty Investors, Triden Development Group LLC, Toll Brothers, Transitional Housing Corp. and Hyatt Hotels. It is, said Michael Jones of Triden, a “creatively compelling plan.”

And then there was Roadside’s Richard Lake, whose presentation started and finished with a 3D video complete with soaring music, aerial renderings and a close-up of the Wegmans that Roadside claims as its “exclusive grocery store.”

“This is an opportunity, not a project,” Lake said.

The Roadside plan includes, as my colleague Ben Fischer detailed Thursday, a Children’s National Medical Center rare disease research and clinical presence, a military first-responder and caregiver museum, a community garden and community pool, senior artist living and art gallery, and a hotel, perhaps a Marriott or Cambria Suites.

Among Roadside’s partners are financing giant BlackRock Inc., Sage Hospitality, Clark Construction, Shalom Baranes Architects and The Bozzuto Group. And, of course, Wegmans, which Lake said could open as soon as 2017 as the campus’s retail anchor. Wegmans, he said, “is an experience.”

I’ll have more on Friday.

Read the full story from the Washington Business Journal.

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