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St. Elizabeths Can it transform Ward 8?

Call it a tale of two campuses. On the federally owned West Campus of St. Elizabeths—the former mental hospital between Anacostia and Congress Heights that’s become one of the city’s biggest development projects—local and federal officials cut the ribbon in July on the new Coast Guard headquarters, with 3,700 employees. The Department of Homeland Security plans to move in next door. On the East Campus, which belongs to the District, progress has been slower. The city issued, then rescinded, a solicitation for developers of the southernmost parcels; instead, it opted to spark interest by starting with a hunt for an academic anchor, to which 12 colleges responded. It’s looking likely that Microsoft will open an “innovation center,” but that still hasn’t been nailed down. The only visible sign of progress on the East Campus is the now-open Gateway Pavilion, aimed at bringing people from the West Campus and the community in for food and events. But given that Coast Guarders can access the pavilion via an underground tunnel without setting foot on a neighborhood street, there’s still reason to be skeptical that St. Es West will truly give a boost to the struggling area.

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