Howard University Seeks Developer for Georgia Avenue's Wonder Plaza

  • April 7th 2021

by Nena Perry-Brown

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Wonder Plaza, from Google Street View. Click to enlarge.

As Howard University gears up for a hearing on its updated Campus Plan, developers are getting the opportunity to throw their hat in the ring for one of the sites contemplated for redevelopment.

Last week, Howard released a request for qualifications (RFQ) to redevelop the 110,000 square-foot Wonder Plaza, the strip along Georgia Avenue that houses several fast-casual restaurants and retail shops below offices and the student computer lab (iLab) (map). The redevelopment should result in a building that includes student housing on the uppermost floors, student recreational space, retail, restaurants, and the iLab.

Those uses would break down approximately as follows:

  • 25,000 square feet of retail
  • 300 student beds
  • a 115,000 square-foot "Health and Wellness center"
  • a 30,000-35,000 square-foot iLab
  • a 10,000-20,000 square-foot "Faculty Club"

The building is expected to be roughly 320,000-400,000 square feet in size, plus two floors of below-grade parking. 

Conceptual massing of the Fusion building.

While the current building is not landmarked nor on any city or national inventory of historic sites, the university finds merit in its former life as the Corby Baking Company at the beginning of the 20th century, a company known for its innovative techniques. The property sold to the Continental Baking Corporation (which made Wonder Bread) in 1925. The smokestack from the bakery remains on campus although the bakery ovens have long been demolished.

The national fast-casual chains on the strip are expected to be retained; no word on whether the same courtesy would be extended to Negril, although the RFQ states that both national and local operators should be in the completed project. Radio station WHUR also operates out of the building and would be relocated elsewhere on campus.

The selected developer would help the university perform due diligence and plan the programming for the project. They would also get the first right to negotiate for their development proposals, although the school reserves the right to put the development back out for competitive bidding. Responses are due in early June.

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See other articles related to: adaptive reuse, campus plan, georgia avenue, howard university, rfq

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/howard-university-seeks-developer-for-georgia-avenues-wonder-plaza/18102.

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