Housing Complex

Howard, Cohen Cancel Agreement for Howard Town Center Development

Howard University and its development partner have canceled their agreement to build a large mixed-use development on Georgia Avenue near the Howard campus.

The D.C. Historic Preservation Office's Steve Callcott confirms that his office received notice yesterday that Howard has terminated its development agreement with the Cohen Companies, the developer on the Howard Town Center project. The project, comprising the 2100 block of Georgia Avenue NW that includes the old Bond Bread building, calls for a residential building with 445 apartments atop a Fresh Grocer grocery store and other retail. In November, the D.C. Council approved an $11 million tax break for the development that D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi deemed unnecessary.

Howard spokeswoman Kerry-Ann Hamilton confirms that Howard has canceled the agreement but declines to provide additional details, saying only, "We are assessing to determine the most effective way of achieving the goals established for the Howard Town Center."

The Howard Town Center project was scheduled for a Historic Preservation Review Board hearing today and a Mayor's Agent hearing on July 12. Both have been postponed as a result of the terminated agreement, Callcott confirms.

Howard has found itself in a tough financial spot recently, with one trustee warning that the university could disappear in a matter of years if tough choices aren't made. The Howard Town Center property, which Howard acquired in 2008 in a swap with the city, is expected to bring the university between $1 million and $2 million per year in lease income—provided it can be developed.

Update 4:55 p.m.: Hamilton says in an email, "The University took this action because developer failed to meet certain benchmarks under the ground lease and development agreements." But she says she can't elaborate on what those benchmarks were.

Howard Town Center rendering from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development website

  • DCvoterboy

    Any idea of what becomes of the unnecessary $11 million tax break?

  • JoeEsq 74

    With Trader Joes opening on U, Harris Teeter set to be a part of the development near the 9:30 club and the O Street market opening soon is a grocery store at this location still practical?

    I hope they find a better deal with a new development partner.

  • Eric

    Honestly, I feel bad for the kids at Howard. I've lived nearby campus for years and it just seems like the university just doesn't put much effort into improving housing, or safety amenities for the students. I went to an urban school in Boston and the universities there were much more engaged with the community and ensuring the students had nice dorms, safe areas, and other amenities. Rather disappointing.

  • dc-eyed

    U Street: here comes Harris Teeter!!! Yeahhhhhhhhh!!!!

    News of the Howard Town Center (HTC) cancellation is perfect timing and will ensure that the JBG/Harris Teeter development (945 Florida Avenue and the adjacent parcel) should be approved, pronto, by the Deputy Mayor's office.

    Many community members always believed that the HTC would never -- in our lifetime -- come to fruition.

    U Street: here comes Harris Teeter!!! Yeahhhhhhhhh!!!!

  • Optimistic

    Howard needs to invest in doing basic maintenance of its buildings and grounds, inclusive of cutting the grass before it gets 8-10 inches high, power washing its buildings of the years of grime build up, replacing windows with decaying molding/caulding, cracked up pavement blocks galore in front of the Hospital, etc, etc

    Howard's past history of its medical, dental, and pharmacy schools about to lose their accredidation was directly related to their facilities, not their size, their lack of upkeep, with leaking ceilings;

    So "the real HU", LOL - fix yourself, pull your pants up, tuck your shirt in, BEFORE you buy a new suit!!

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  • Paul Smith

    This school is run by a bunch of idiots

  • tntdc

    Howard needs money now. Not long-term investments.

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