Community members got a look at GW’s plans for the redevelopment of Rice Hall and 2100 Pennsylvania Ave. into a retail space at a neighborhood meeting Wednesday.
The updated plan – presented by Alicia Knight, the senior associate vice president of operations, and developers at Boston Properties – would combine the two buildings and create a shared alley.
Jake Stroman, the assistant project manager at Boston Properties, said at the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting that the 130-foot building will incorporate outside seating, multiple entrances and a 19-foot ceiling.
“We truly intend to animate street with dynamic retail activity,” he said.
Stroman added that the developers’ plan to extend the I Street corridor and find a new location for the Capital Bike Share station on I Street during construction.
While some neighbors at the meeting said they were concerned about University leaders focusing more on the retail development over residence hall renovations, Knight said the plan will give GW resources that could be used for other funding.
“Instead of being a drain on our financial resources, the rent that Boston Properties will pay to the University is actually a net positive cash flow to the University’s operations that can then be used to fund other things,” she said.
GW worked with Boston Properties in its development of The Avenue, a complex that ultimately helped fund the construction of the Science and Engineering Hall. Knight said she is hopeful that the proposed plan for 2100 Pennsylvania Ave. and Rice Hall will have a similar impact on the University.
“We were very pleased that Boston Properties ended up being the victorious proposer, so to speak, and we are very excited about them replicating to success of The Avenue here on the other side of our campus,” Knight said.
In the meantime, GW leaders are seeking approval from the D.C. Zoning Commission for an amendment to the campus plan to allow the buildings to be used for commercial purposes instead of academic ones.
Rice Hall currently houses administrative offices, and Knight said these offices will be moved to current buildings throughout the GW’s various campuses.
Patrick Kennedy, chairman of the ANC, said despite minor concerns about the plan’s impact on GW students, he believes the community will accept plan.
“I think people are open to the possibilities of a new attractive building at that corner, just so long as there are no negative externalities from increased traffic or an accommodation of uses elsewhere on the University campus that ultimately reduce opportunities for students,” Kennedy said.