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Article reprinted in its entirety from Bisnow May 2021
Two competing visions for the redevelopment of a District-owned property at the prime intersection of 14th and U streets NW are coming into focus.
The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development has revealed presentations from two finalist development teams proposing major mixed-use projects for the site of the Reeves Center at 2000 14th St. NW.
Mayor Muriel Bowser released the request for proposals for the 2.2-acre site in December, after announcing in May that the D.C. agency that occupies the Reeves Center would be relocating to a new Ward 7 development.
In June, Bowser announced the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People signed a letter of intent to move its headquarters from Baltimore to the planned redevelopment on the Reeves Center site. Both proposals include at least 100K SF of office, plus a mix of other uses and public space.
One proposal came from a team led by Dantes Partners and Menkiti Group, with several other partners. The team is proposing to build 250 apartments, 46 condos, 100K SF of office and a 150-room hotel, plus retail and public space.
The second proposal came from a team led by CSG Urban Partners, MRP Realty and Capri Investment Group, plus other partners. The team is proposing 628 units of mixed-income housing, 110K SF of office space, 20K SF of retail, 24K SF of arts-related programming and five for-sale townhouses.
The hotel in the Dantes and Menkiti proposal would have the Moxy brand, and the team has identified retail users including D.C. Central Kitchen, The Collective Food Hall and Songbyrd. It also has community partners including The MusicianShip and St. Augustine Catholic Church.
Menkiti Group CEO Bo Menkiti said the team decided to include the hotel component to provide a diversity of uses on the site and to create hundreds of new hospitality jobs.
“It’s almost unconscionable that there isn’t a hotel in that submarket,” Menkiti said. “By partnering with Marriott to bring the Moxy hotel there, we’re bringing an affordable, accessible and cool, hip brand there that can be a place for local people to come, and also people around the world to come, experience this jewel that D.C. has to offer.”
The multifamily units in the Dantes-Menkiti proposal would include affordable housing at the 30%, 50% and 80% area median income levels, and the team said the project would create 4,000 jobs. Its presentation also highlighted the diversity of the team — Dantes and Menkiti are Black-owned, local development firms — and their experience delivering projects in the District.
Additional partners on the team include United Investments, H2 Design Build, Banneker Communities, Broughton Construction, Lopez and Associates, EB5 Capital, Kadida Development Group, Inle Development, Asset Management Consulting, Spectrum Management, Horning Brothers and Keystone Plus Consulting.
Dantes Partners Managing Principal Buwa Binitie said the team is also focusing on bringing local chefs and artists into the project’s food hall and Songbyrd music venue, and he said the public can gather at the project’s 10,500 SF plaza.
“We know that U Street has been a gathering spot since before I was born,” Binitie said. “Our site is continuing to ensure that this continues to be that meeting place whether you’re going out on a date to the food hall or you just want to hang outside with your family and listen to music.”
A rendering of the CSG Urban-led team’s proposal for the Reeves Center redevelopment. Courtesy of Michael Marshall Design.
The proposal from CSG Urban and its partners includes the Frederick Douglass Plaza and Marion Barry Jr. Amphitheatre, a 24K SF outdoor plaza that would host cultural and arts programming. The project also includes space for the Washington Jazz Arts Institute and for New York-based dance company The Ailey School to open its first D.C. studio.
The project’s townhouses would provide affordable homeownership opportunities for residents making up to 50% of the median family income, developed by Habitat for Humanity and Douglass Community Land Trust. At least 30% of the multifamily housing would also be set aside at that affordability level.
The development partners on that team are local firms CSG and MRP, plus Chicago-based Capri Investment Group. Michael Marshall Design is the team’s architecture partner.
“Our project has not only a neighborhood outreach and scale, but also a civic scale for the entire city,” Michael Marshall Design CEO Michael Marshall said. “That’s why we have at the heart of our project the public space … we see this as the western anchor to really support the concept of Black Broadway.”
The CSG proposal names the NAACP as a potential partner. It said the organization would have 100% ownership of its 50K SF office condominium, plus a ” substantial ownership” of the remaining office space. And it said the NAACP is proposed as a “major owner” of the multifamily and retail portions of the project.
CSG co-founder and principal Simone Goring Devaney said the team has had discussions with the NAACP, and she thinks it is important that the organization plays a role in creating its new home.
“We heard them loud and clear that they don’t just want to be a tenant, they want to own their space and they want to have a key equity ownership in the entire project,” she said. “They’re such an important part of our program.
“While the Dantes-Menkiti presentation slides didn’t include the potential of partnering with the NAACP, Binitie said he has also had discussions with the organization and offered it an equity stake in the development.
“We have offered them an equity position, we have communicated that to them, and should they be interested in doing more, we are obviously open to it,” Binitie said. “All 16 of our partners are individually writing our own checks to be owners of this property in perpetuity, so we’re hoping the NAACP will be part of the team. Should they want a bigger check of the equity, we’re open to figuring that out with them.”
The Frank D. Reeves Center of Municipal Affairs at 2000 14th St. NW. Google Maps
The NAACP is being represented in the deal by Jarvis Commercial Real Estate’s Ernie Jarvis, who last week won a major award from CREBA. Jarvis told Bisnow Tuesday that the NAACP is not currently part of either team, and they will partner with either bidder, but he said the organization wants to have an equity interest in the development.
“There are a couple goals for NAACP,” Jarvis said. “One is to be an equity partner in the development project and to occupy the building. And two, they really want a project that is highly sustainable with the Living Building Challenge and exceeds LEED Platinum.”
Jarvis said the Reeves Center site is among D.C.’s most iconic development opportunities in the last two decades, putting it on par with the sites that led to CityCenterDC and The Wharf.
“The Reeves Center is one of those iconic opportunities because it’s at the corner of 14th and U streets, which really has so much history within the city,” Jarvis said. “The NAACP sees this as a great opportunity to move its national headquarters to the District.”
The teams both said they plan to continue meeting with the NAACP and with community organizations, and neither team knew when to expect a final selection. A DMPED spokesperson, in an emailed statement to Bisnow, declined to provide a timeline for the selection.
“Mayor Bowser kicked off the Reimagining Reeves initiative years ago in order to ensure the District Government continued to have a presence at 14th and U Streets NW while adding a mix of uses to further enliven the corridor,” the spokesperson said. “With the NAACP as the anchor tenant and the EquityRFP ensuring an inclusive opportunity, we are confident that the proposals submitted will provide a viable path forward to see Mayor Bowser’s vision and the community’s aspirations for the site to fruition.”
Contact Jon Banister at email@example.com