Howard University’s redevelopment of two vacant, historic DC buildings makes progress

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University has produced four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, two Marshall Scholars, one Schwarzman Scholar, over 70 Fulbright Scholars and 22 Pickering Fellows. Howard produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States.

Now, concluding over a decade of planning and legal disputes, Howard University takes a significant step forward in its pursuit to redevelop the long-vacant Bond Bread Factory and Washington Railway & Electric Company buildings, located across from Howard University Hospital.

On May 21, 2018, the university released a shortlist of potential development partners looking to reimagine the 2.2-acre project. The University will maintain fee simple ownership of the property to preserve its real estate portfolio.

This project is a unique opportunity to have Howard University actively participate in the revitalization of our community. We are leveraging property that we own to generate jobs, diversify the value chain and ultimately enhance the local community experience. Further, we take proceeds from these kind of deals and reinvest into other campus projects,” says President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick.

The Bond Bread Factory and WRECO Garage sites are historic buildings that will greatly benefit from this second chance to become a thriving part of the surrounding Shaw Neighborhood. We look forward to partnering with a development team that can bring this vision to life,” he continued.

After receiving over 20 responses to its Request for Qualifications from highly-regarded members of Washington’s development community, Howard University has selected eight premiere development teams to move forward to a Request for Proposals (RFP) phase. This follows a Court of Appeals decision, last month, reaffirming Howard’s control of the property after a decade-long legal battle with a previously-selected developer that failed to fulfill its contractual agreement with the University.

The list of advancing development teams includes:

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

This project offers a snapshot of the University’s real estate strategy, championed by President Frederick, which includes comprehensive evaluation of its real estate assets and monetization transactions which provide capital for mission-based reinvestment. In further support of Howard’s mission, the University required significant minority participation within development teams selected for the shortlist. The eight teams were also asked to provide high quality conceptual designs, including amenities to serve students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community.

Bond Bread is a crown jewel in Howard’s portfolio and I am proud that the best and brightest development teams took time to offer creative uses and partnership concepts,” says Howard Real Estate Executive Anthony Freeman.“Howard is excited to capture value for critical campus development goals and contribute to the revival of Georgia Avenue.”

As Howard looks to bridge the gap between Central Campus and the vibrant U Street community, the development teams were encouraged to take an innovative approach to redeveloping the buildings by offering a mix of uses that complement the historic nature of the site and address the vision outlined in the Duke Small Area Plan.

Initial concepts included a variety of uses, such as ground floor retail and restaurant, entertainment, market and affordable residential, office, hotel and specialty uses. Both buildings were built more than 80 years ago and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Designated components of the buildings, originally used as a commercial bakery and a maintenance garage, will be preserved and incorporated into the future design.

Following the evaluation of responses to the RFP, Howard will select a development team to launch a multi-year process prior to groundbreaking. The team will lead the design and financing of the development, as well as efforts to obtain zoning and historic preservation approvals.

All photos courtesy of Howard University.

See Howard University website.

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