Plans to transform the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center site in the District into a 3 million-square-foot town center project have moved a step closer to fruition, thanks to a recent federal government approval.
Mayor Vincent Gray announced on Thursday that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development OK’d a plan for the 67-acre site between Georgia Avenue and 16th Street Northwest, clearing the path for the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority to negotiate a property transfer with the Army.
“We are now one step closer to executing the vision for this site that has been formulated by the community over many years,” Gray said in a statement, referring to the site that went dormant in September 2011 after serving generations of soldiers for 102 years.
In 2007, the scandalous treatment of wounded soldiers shocked the nation and led to a congressional push for improved care for the injured. By then, Walter Reed campus had already been pegged for closure by the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission.
“The redevelopment of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center will provide vital new housing accommodations for our veterans and seniors and shopping opportunities for our neighbors to reduce retail leakage in the area,” he continued. “It will also create jobs and provide many more amenities for residents, making this one of the premier destinations in the District of Columbia.”
Plans for the historic site, where hundreds of thousand of active and retired military personnel received care and President Dwight D. Eisenhower died, include 2,097 residential units (with 318 subsidized below market rate), a commerce and science center with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and George Washington University facilities and more than 200,000 square feet of new retail. It would also turn the original hospital building into a Hyatt hotel and conference center.
In November, the city’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development announced development rights would be awarded to Hines-Urban Atlantic-Trident in a partnership venture. They envision a $1 billion development, projecting it will provide $37 million in annual tax revenue and add thousands of permanent and construction jobs. Hines is also responsible for developing the CityCenterDC project in downtown.
Approval from HUD enables the Army to complete the environmental assessment required before transfer and redevelopment of the site, according to the mayor’s office.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.