Officials eye 2010 for site

University officials said they do not expect to walk into any new buildings on the old hospital grounds until 2010 as they continue to look at developers for the site.

“If you see anything significant there within six years from now, we would be extremely lucky,” Executive Vice President and Treasurer Louis Katz said Friday before the Faculty Senate at the group’s first meeting of the semester.

Though GW is considering a range of options for the facility, Katz said the tentative plan is to lease out most of the space for private use while retaining “a portion” of the site for University use. The area is currently zoned for academic and residential purposes, and other types of use would require permission from the city.

The site, located at 22nd Street between I Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, has been vacant since workers completed the demolition of the former GW Hospital in December 2003.

Just how much of the property will remain in GW’s hands has yet to be determined, though the decision may rest largely on whether the University receives zoning rights from the District to increase the density on campus – not including the hospital site – by an additional 200 square feet. Katz said that if such rights are not afforded, the University may have to retain “most of (the site), if not all of it” for school purposes. Increasing the campus’ density would allow GW to construct larger buildings.

The University has identified four potential developers for the site: Boston Properties, Carr America, Hines and JBG. Officials said they are gauging feedback from all parts of the neighborhood and University communities as they go through the development process.

“What GW is trying to do is make sure we have as much input from the Foggy Bottom community as possible,” said Tracy Schario, director of Media Relations. “One of the requirements for the developer is that they have community affairs expertise.”

Schario said a developer would likely be chosen by early 2005; the Board of Trustees is expected to discuss the four developers at its October meeting. After a developer is chosen, GW will start discussing specific uses for the site and file with the city for the appropriate zoning rights, a stage that could take up to 18 months.

Many have weighed in on what to do with the area, including students, faculty and neighborhood groups. Some department chairs have asked that the space be reserved exclusively for academic purposes; but administrators have previously said the site will most likely house some sort of retail outlets. Schario said the space is a highly valued site and that the University will proceed carefully in deciding what to build.

“It’s prime real estate,” Schario said. “If you look at the District of Columbia and the large plots of land downtown that are undeveloped, this is number one.”

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