As we have documented several times here in REVITALIZATION (including this recent RFP), the Frank D. Reeves Center of Municipal Affairs (Reeves Center) was an important catalyst for revitalization in the historic U Street corridor of Washington, DC…a catalyst that itself now needs revitalization.
Now, on June 2, 2023, Mayor Muriel Bowser and Keith Anderson, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development announced the selection of Reeves CMC Venture to redevelop the Reeves Center site.
The revitalizing project will deliver a hotel, a permanent home and headquarters for the National Association for Advancement of Color People (NAACP), municipal office space, and much-needed affordable and market-rate housing to the U Street Corridor.
The project will also continue to honor the legacy to icons such as Frank D. Reeves and Mayor Marion Barry and preserve the legacy of Black Broadway.
CSG Urban Partners, a resident, woman, and minority-owned business will lead the redevelopment. To date, this is one of the largest EquityRFP’s awarded by the District.
“The Reeves Center is symbolic of DC’s resilience, and as we make our comeback – this is an opportunity to double down on our commitment making our prosperity more inclusive and preserving the history and culture of our community,” said Mayor Bowser.
“As we welcome the NAACP to DC, we are being intentional about redeveloping this site so that it meets the needs of our residents and moves us toward a more equitable future,” she added.
The Reeves Center site sits on the intersection of 14th and U Street Northwest, a historic crossroads directly linked to Black history and culture, the DC Home Rule movement, and civil rights activism. From the late 19th to mid– 20th centuries, this corner was in the heart of Black Washington, with U Street once serving as the home to more than 300 Black-owned businesses, including hotels, banks, offices, and theaters.
For decades, the art and entertainment scene flourished along the corridor, formerly known as Black Broadway. Howard University is also located nearby the corridor.
The selected project proposal from Reeves CMC includes a new Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and School, a Washington Jazz Arts Institute, a Viva School of Dance, a restaurant by Food Network celebrity chef Carla Hall, and a Dave Chappelle Comedy Club.
In addition to a focus on arts and culture, the project will provide 322 residential rental units of housing, of which at least 30% will be affordable dwelling units (ADUs) for DC households making at or below 30% of the Median Family Income ($45,200 for a family of four) and at or below 50% MFI ($75,350 for a family of four).
The project will also provide a new home for the Christian Tabernacle Child Development Center, which uses a creative curriculum to help children gain the skills they need to thrive. The project will also include a hotel and space for municipal uses that will sustain daytime foot traffic throughout the U Street corridor, and a new headquarters for the NAACP.
“Today marks yet another pivotal step towards preserving the deep, historically Black roots of the U Street corridor. The NAACP is deeply appreciative of the hard work and thoughtful consideration that Mayor Bowser and her team have committed to this project,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson.
“As we continue to echo the calls of Black America in the halls of power, headquartering our offices within our nation’s capital will allow us to further our mission of affecting change on the issues that matter most to our community. We are encouraged by this partnership and are excited to call U Street home,” he continued.
Mayor Bowser released the EquityRFP in 2020 to enhance racial equity and make DC’s prosperity even more inclusive by increasing access to development opportunities for entities or organizations that are owned or majority controlled by individuals determined to be part of a socially disadvantaged population.
The Reeves Center site is the fifth EquityRFP awarded of the seven EquityRFPs issued so far, and to date, is one of the largest EquityRFP awarded by the District. In total, Equity RFP projects awarded to date will provide approximately 2,700 units of much-needed housing, encompassing approximately 3 million square feet of development.
“In our Comeback Plan, we set a goal to increase the share of minority-owned businesses,” said Deputy Mayor Anderson.
“The EquityRFP is one tool that Mayor Bowser created to foster an environment where minority-owned businesses can thrive. The EquityRFP goes beyond encouraging the growth of minority-owned real estate development companies in the District; with its inclusion of an evaluation criterion promoting social equity, the EquityRFP encourages minority business participation in all aspects of a DMPED development project,” he oncluded.
The District is partnering with the NAACP to relocate its national headquarters to the site. The NAACP’s commitment early in the process is a tribute to Franklin D. Reeves, lawyer and civil rights activist who, while working for the NAACP, was part of the team that shaped the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education that rendered segregated schools unconstitutional and mandated school desegregation throughout the United States. For over a century, the NAACP has worked on behalf of Black people to change policies that restrict the economic mobility of Black Americans.
Rendering courtesy of Reeves CMC Venture.