Housing Complex

More Details on the Walter Reed Proposals

On Thursday night, the three short-listed teams to develop the Walter Reed site between Upper Georgia Avenue and 16th Street NW presented their proposals to the public for the first time. There were varying degrees of specificity, illustration, and pizzazz in the presentations, with ideas ranging from a Wegmans supermarket to an educational campus to a "senior village."

Now the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority has posted the teams' presentations online, so I can share a few more details of the proposals.

The proposal from Forest City Washington has the fewest details and renderings, but here's the team's breakdown of the site into six areas, which Forest City somehow counts as five:

Forest City envisions the core as a "hub of unexpected intersections," where students and faculty at a Georgetown University campus will interact with employees of nonprofit institutions in the various public spaces. One of these spaces will be "The Green," a park of similar size to Yards Park in Capitol Riverfront or Bryant Park in New York.

The plan anticipated connections along some linear and not-so-linear axes:

And here's the overall, bird's-eye vision for the site:

The Hines-Urban Atlantic team provided a few more renderings. While this team doesn't have an agreement with Wegmans—its competitor Roadside Development does—the "W" logo on this grocery anchor is a not-so-subtle hint at the type of supermarket Hines-Urban Atlantic hopes to attract. Also note the cameo from the Georgia Avenue streetcar:

The Hines-Urban Atlantic proposal is called "The Parks at Walter Reed," and you can see why—the southern half of the site is quite green in the renderings:

Here's the plan's housing breakdown. It's a little hard to see, but the purplish color is duplexes and townhomes, orange is condos, yellow is rental, green is artist housing, and red is senior housing:

The proposal includes MIT and George Washington University facilities, a Hyatt hotel and conference center, and an arts presence featuring Artomatic, Dance Place, and the Washington Glass School:

Finally, the Roadside plan comes with the best visuals—and a commitment from the retailer the other two aspire to: Wegmans.

This plan appears a bit more urban and less park-filled than the Hines-Urban Atlantic one. In addition to the Wegmans grocery anchor, it features an institutional anchor in the Children's National Medical Center. Roadside also envisions partnerships with Howard University and George Washington University, and is in discussions with Marriott and Cambria Suites for a hotel element. The proposal includes interim uses, such as a farmer's market and outdoor movie theater, before construction is complete.

Which proposal do you like best?

  • Nick

    People in the neighborhood are going crazy about the possibility of a Wegmans. Frankly I don't understand the attraction. It's too big and will attract mostly drivers. This area should be more pedestrian oriented. I would be more supportive of a Yes or Trader Joe's.

  • Sc

    @nick: do you live in or near this area? wegmans would be a huge improvement over the grocery options in this area. the safeway at georgia and piney branch is, possibly, the worst grocery store i've ever shopped in regularly. over the course of nearly 20 years, and 4 states, i've never shopped in a store that was as badly managed, or that routinely had expired food, like this safeway does. it's terrible.

    many in the neighborhood can't wait for the wal-mart to open so that there is another place to buy food, but just as many of us will refuse to shop there.

    also, there is no need for a Yes! in this community. there is a much-loved food coop in Takoma Park, and a Yes! not 10 minutes down Georgia.

    Some may argue that Wegman's is expensive, but buying their house-brand of almost any product is cheaper (and as good or better) than buying a name brand of the same product, and significantly cheaper. The key, though, is that the selection of produce and meats at Wegmans, not to mention their baked goods, deli, etc., are unmatched in this area. The introduction of this kind of store can only help to improve what is available around the District.

  • Community Resident of Walter Reed

    We were very surprised that we elderly people are being subjected to the possibility of Biochemical Research Centers through Georgetown University and others. In fact the entire project seems to be to benefit Georgetown University and it's students. Where is the concern and commitment to the people who live here directly. We are being asked to share but our interest is represented no where in these processes. We live here and our safety and space is being invaded by outsiders who could care less about us and only on getting their hands on this project. WHO WANTS TO REPRESENT THE COMMUNITY? CONTACT US through the Fort Sevens Rec Center.

  • IAmNotALiberalDemocrat

    Many people 55 and older living in Shepherd Park, Brightwood, Takoma, and 16th Street Heights will be dead by this project is finally finished. In other words, this doesn't matter to many senior citizens.

  • Dno

    The Forest City and Roadside proposals are much, much better than Hines. Might have given the nod to Forest City between the two, especially given their track record in Navy Yard, but those commitments Roadside lined up are huge. Tough call.

  • Nick

    SC... Yeah I've lived nearby for a couple years. I agree that the Safeway is poorly managed. They want to move into Walter Reed and redevelop the land their current store is on. I'm going to reserve judgement until I see how the new Petworth store turns out. I want to see them go more high end. This location is about 2 miles from both the Petworth Yes and TPSS. That's too far to walk.

    Dno is right. This early in the process it is probably best to look at track records.

    In regard to the elderly, should they also include an assisted living facility? The elderly only spend significant money on healthcare.

  • DC Guy

    Day car, assisted living - I agree that these should have opportunities for different stages in life.

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  • True Native Washingtonian

    Artist housing? Dance Place? Has this city completely lost all compassion for its truly less fortunate? Previous articles in CityPaper and the Post have shown that there is less and less affordable housing in DC. Not just for senior citizens, but those who just don't have much money. I agree with developing the space, but let's not completely forget or ignore the economically disadvantaged.

  • LeeinDC

    @true native

    We definitely need low cost housing citywide (not just in ward 4). However, I live nearby and I want more than just homeless shelters. Arts and Dance are good additions to my neighborhood. You should check out the plans and you will see they actually are adding two homeless shelter facilities and some sort of senior housing.

    I find it interesting that Hines is locating the senior housing and homeless housing in a cluster away from the retail and upscale housing. This seems like a bad idea.

  • spookiness

    Poor people unite! Stop gentification. Keep DC slummy!

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  • Bob

    The Forest City and Hines plans are more creative. The Roadside plan is more meh -- pretty cookie cutter "generica" development that could have been transplanted from Clarendon or any other site in the metro area.

  • Philco

    The Hines-Urban Atlantic one is the least imaginative and least successful. It just jams a building into every apparent space and reduces and squares off the most important landscape feature. There's no apparent understanding of the particulars of this campus---or that that the character of a campus is different from a very dense, urban street grid.

  • George

    Would appreciate seeing more specifics from Forest City. Why so vague I wonder?

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  • http://www.gwu.edu Raise High!

    The proposals involving the George Washington University as a partner are the best and GW has a great track record with development.

  • Steve

    Forest City gets the site and its potential place in the neighborhood. The two others are disappointing, especially Hines-Urban Atlantic. Their concept shows they can't shake the suburban paradigm. Perhaps it's just personal preference, but I really don't like the architecture proposed by Roadside. Regardless of what tenants they have commitments from or not, the architecture and planning of the site are going to determine the long-term success of the development.

  • Annonymous

    I would have liked to see specific references to the streetcar (not just half of a streetcar in the rendering). A public/private partnership through this development might get streetcar up GA Ave more quickly.

  • TruDat

    Can anyone (Aaron) tell who are the CBEs on these development teams?

  • Russ

    I live two blocks from Walter Reed and I'm kind of freaked out by these "Clarendon Clone" concepts.

    Great, yeah, let's have the requisite Starbucks, Wegmans, and Panera Bread--yippee! I prefer to leave Safeway where it is and add a Mom's Organic Market or Yes! (Plus, locally owned brings more variety and leaves more money in our local economy.) At the very least, let's not turn our unique city into a series of boring chains.

    Also, the concepts (some more than others) seem to disregard the people who actually live around Walter Reed. What's up with the white yuppies strolling the street in the Roadside plan? Um, yeah, did these designers actually visit our neighborhood, or do they just not give a damn that the neighborhood is 70-90% African American?

    That said, if these are the options, I'd rank them as:

    1. Hines-Urban Atlantic (most diversity for people with various interests)
    2. Forest City (wish it had more specifics,
    3. Roadside (Clarendon generic clone--blah)

  • Butler Engle

    I've lived in DC for 15 years and am turning 50. I'd love to settle into a community in 10-15 years that incorporates a path of housing as I age. And this city has to incorporate green space into these developments! Geez! There is such a push to walkable communities but who wants to walk past blocks and blocks of 6-9 story buildings?

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