Walter Reed project formally underway after groundbreaking ceremony

Mayor Muriel Bowser was among the officials attending an April 30 Walter Reed Dreams Community Block Party. (Susan Shinn/The Current/April 2017)

Developers and city officials last month marked the groundbreaking of The Parks at Walter Reed, the massive mixed-use project slated to take over the former Army medical campus.

The April 24 ceremony featured Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 D.C. Council member Brandon Todd and representatives from the firms of Hines, Urban Atlantic and Triden, which are developing the project with TPWR Developer LLC. Also on hand was the D.C. International School’s choir, which performed at the event.

Bowser described the project as “a fantastic collection of housing and retail and park space and a wonderful school,” adding that the buzz around the site is already “telling to the development community and business community that upper Georgia Avenue’s time has come.”

Construction will proceed in phases over a 10- to 15-year period. Once completed, The Parks at Walter Reed will boast 3.1 million square feet of developed space including a campus for D.C. International School; residential, retail and office space; a hotel and conference center; arts and cultural space; and a Howard University Hospital ambulatory care center. Building II — the 1970s-era hospital building at Walter Reed — will be demolished to make way for a town center, but many of the historic buildings will be preserved.

“One of our great opportunities here is to take what is a historic and beautiful property and transform it into something that once again will be a center of activity and recreation for the entire community,” said Charles Watters, senior managing director for Hines.

For decades, Walter Reed has been synonymous with military medicine. The Army’s flagship medical center, Walter Reed was active from 1909 to 2011, when it was consolidated with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda to form the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Last year the federal government officially ceded the bulk of the land from the former Army center to the District for reuse, with the remainder slated for a foreign missions center overseen by the U.S. State Department.

Council member Todd said that investment in the Parks at Walter Reed project will create thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue for the District. “I say all the time that Walter Reed represents the single greatest economic development opportunity that the District of Columbia will see for generations,” Todd said.

Watters said that an initial phase of construction will begin this year with the installation of a new water main and the demolition of the old hospital building.

One of the earliest components scheduled for completion is a new building for the D.C. International School, which is set to open for the 2017-18 school year.