Looking Back on BRAC: Redeveloping the Former Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.

Walter Reed Hospital (photo: AP/Luis M. Alvarez)
Walter Reed Hospital (photo: AP/Luis M. Alvarez)

From 1909 through mid-2011, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC, originally known as the Walter Reed General Hospital) was the U.S. Army’s flagship medical center. Located on a 110-acre site in Upper Northwest Washington, D.C., the center was named after Major Walter Reed, an army physician who led the team that discovered that yellow fever is transmitted by mosquitoes. The most recent (2005) round of BRAC called for the complex to be combined with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., to form the tri-service (Army, Navy, and Air Force) Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Services were transferred gradually from WRAMC to the new center; WRAMC formally ceased operations on August 27, 2011.

In January of this year, the District of Columbia took the next step toward refining and implementing a reuse plan for the property. Acting through the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority, it issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for a master developer to redevelop 66.57 acres of the Walter Reed site into a $640 million community built around a 12.5-acre town center with 3.1 million square feet of new offices, homes and shopping, including 1,864 units of multifamily housing, 90 townhomes, 767,000 square feet of office space, 212,000 square feet of retail and 176,000 square feet of other uses such as arts and entertainment, all over the next 20 years. The original historic brick hospital building likely will remain and be occupied by an institutional, educational, corporate or medical entity; the 2.6 million-square-foot concrete hospital will be demolished.  (The U.S. Department of State will redevelop the remaining 43.53 acres of the Walter Reed site as a Foreign Missions Center.)

Yesterday (Wednesday, March 20), Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor L. Hoskins announced that the District had received  nine responses to the RFQ by the March 15 deadline. Those responses came from the following firms, many of which have extensive experience building in the District and have partnered with the city on other projects:

  • Allied Patriot, LLC;
  • Douglas Development Corporation;
  • Forest City Washington;
  • Grid Properties, Inc.;
  • Hines • Urban Atlantic Joint Venture;
  • Republic Properties Corporation;
  • Roadside Development;
  • Walter Reed Associates, LLC (consisting of the Wilkes Company, Capstone Development LLC and Quadrangle Development Corporation) and
  • Western Development.

“My administration has worked closely with Ward 4 residents and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions for areas adjacent to the former Walter Reed campus to ensure that we put this site to the best possible use,” said Mayor Gray. “We are excited about the level of interest in redeveloping the site and know the public will welcome the news that this large-scale redevelopment effort is moving forward.”

The next step in the process is for the city to select a shortlist of “prequalified respondents” that will be invited to participate in a subsequent request for proposals (RFP) process. City officials expect to select a master developer—which will be responsible for planning, design, entitlements, infrastructure, financing, permitting, construction, community engagement, sales and leasing, and ongoing management—by July.  Meanwhile, the District continues to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to win approval for the District’s reuse plan, and to negotiate with the Army on a sales price for the property—a process that is likely to continue for quite some time, as both parties independently work to determine its fair market value.