A 24-Hour DC Marketplace? Developers Vie to Redevelop Historic Howard University Properties

by Nena Perry-Brown

A 24-Hour DC Marketplace? Developers Vie to Redevelop Historic Howard University Properties: Figure 1
The Bond Bread building. Click to enlarge.

Howard University is making progress with its real estate portfolio.

After issuing a request for qualifications last September for a team to redevelop the 2.2 acres between Georgia Avenue and 8th Street NW between V and W Streets, the university has announced the advancement of eight partnerships to present their visions of "highest and best use" for the site. 

Howard has made efforts toward facilitating redevelopment of 2112-2146 Georgia Avenue NW (map) into a mixed-use gateway between the institution and the U Street Corridor for over a decade, but more recently was embroiled in a legal dispute with the last development team chosen for the site.

Following a Court of Appeals decision last month that reaffirmed the university's control of the site, Howard is moving forward to ensure that the historic properties are transformed into a destination. The ground-floor of the future mixed-use development is envisioned as "a 24-hour work, shop, eat, live, play destination" à la Reading Terminal in Philadelphia (or, perhaps, Union Market in Northeast DC).

The university is looking to retain fee simple ownership and enter into an exclusive rights agreement like a ground lease (similar to what was done with its other in-progress former-dormitory-turned-residential deals).

The selected development teams are as follows:

  • Eastbanc and Fisher Brothers
  • Fivesquares, Menkiti Group and Edens
  • Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners
  • JBG Smith, The Gideon Companies and MRP Realty
  • PN Hoffman
  • Quadrangle Development
  • Stonebridge Carras and The Jarvis Company
  • Trammell Crow Company and Trammell Crow's High Street Residential 

The teams will now submit their development proposals to the university. The site is zoned MU-10 for mixed-use with a by-right height of 90 feet with a 20 foot-tall penthouse. The buildings are both industrial properties listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, necessitating a historic preservation and adaptive reuse approach.

On the W Street corner, the Bond Bread Factory was designed by Corry B. Comstock and constructed in 1929 with an art deco style typically not associated with factories. On the V Street corner is the former Washington Railway and Electric Company (WRECO) garage, designed by the illustrious Arthur Heaton and constructed in 1930. The property is one of several pitched by DC to Amazon for the company's second headquarters.

Howard University acquired the property in a land swap with the city that also necessitated certain development covenants, including conformity to the Duke Land Area Development Framework and a requirement for the site to include a grocery store (although eventual completion of Whole Foods a few short blocks away could make this negotiable). The site will also need environmental remediation, as it is known to have two underground storage tanks.

The development team will be selected in early fall.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/developers-vie-to-redevelop-historic-howard-properties-into-marketplace/14011

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