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Mayor Bowser Breaks Ground on Whitman-Walker at St. Elizabeths East and Reunion Square During "Ward 8 Day"

Thursday, July 15, 2021
Two Ward 8 projects will expand economic opportunity, affordable housing, and jobs for District residents

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser is celebrating “Ward 8 Day” by breaking ground on two major development projects: Whitman-Walker at St. Elizabeths East and Reunion Square, the first-ever Tax Increment Financing (TIF) project in Ward 8.
 
“We are proud to be bringing the vision of the Ward 8 community to life at both of these sites – at St. Elizabeths East and Reunion Square,” said Mayor Bowser. “In 2015, when we announced our plans to bring the Entertainment & Sports Arena to Congress Heights, we came together set a bigger, bolder vision for Ward 8 – one that would bring jobs, opportunity, housing, and prosperity to the community. With today’s groundbreakings, we are one step closer to delivering the amenities and opportunity that Ward 8 deserves.”
 
Whitman-Walker is the latest groundbreaking at the St. Elizabeths East Campus, already home to the Entertainment & Sports Arena and the future site of mixed income for-sale and rental housing, a new full-service hospital, new office and retail, and other neighborhood-serving amenities. Whitman-Walker is a non-profit community health center with special expertise in HIV/AIDS healthcare and LGBTQ healthcare. The new 118,000-square-foot center will build on the services currently provided at Whitman-Walker’s Max Robinson Center located at 2301 Martin Luther King Jr Avenue SE by providing primary, behavioral, and dental care, treatment for substance use disorders, and more. The Whitman-Walker site will also include a ground-floor pharmacy as well as the headquarters of the Whitman-Walker Institute – the organization’s research, policy, and advocacy arm.

“Our residents have long awaited the same access to amenities as the rest of the city,” said Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White. “We are seeing a beacon of light and hope here today. For me, it’s really about equity and access and there is no time like the present.”

“We have continued to focus on our residents East of the River when thinking strategically about new development sites and amenities,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio. “With these two major developments in Ward 8, we are bringing healthcare options, affordable housing, small businesses, and office space to communities that have been overlooked for far too long.”
 
When the new Whitman-Walker health care center opens, they will be able to expand from seeing 5,000 patients and clients per year at the Max Robinson Center, to seeing approximately 15,000 patients per year at the new facility.
 
“This new health care home will reflect the vibrancy of the community and will give us an opportunity to expand care in ways we have been dreaming of for decades,” said CEO of Whitman-Walker Health Naseema Shafi. “We are humbled to be working with Mayor Bowser and her team on this project.”
 
“This groundbreaking represents the beginning of the realization of a bold vision shared by our partners at Whitman-Walker, Gragg Cardona Partners, District leadership and members of the community to build a new engine for economic vitality and quality healthcare – fulfilling Redbrick LMD’s vision for equitable development,” said Louis Dubin, Managing Partner at Redbrick LMD.
 
After breaking ground on Whitman-Walker, the Mayor will break ground at Reunion Square, the future site of 134 units of senior affordable housing, affordable retail and office space for Ward 8 businesses, a hotel, and the DC Health headquarters. In 2020, Mayor Bowser, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, and DMPED collaborated to move emergency legislation, which authorized $25 million in bonds to enable the project, located at an underutilized site near the Anacostia Metrorail Station, to move ahead. The 1.5 million square-foot development is adjacent to Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, Shannon Place, Railroad Avenue, V Street, and W Street, SE in Anacostia.
 
Tax Increment Financing is a program through which the District provides funding for economic development projects by borrowing against future tax receipts that will be generated by the project. Other development projects in the District that have utilized TIFs include the Skyland Town Center in Ward 7 and the redevelopment of The Wharf along the Southwest Waterfront and City Market at O Street in Ward 6.
 
“The Four Points, Curtis Investment Group and Blue Sky Housing team is very excited about this next phase of the Reunion Square development plan, which in addition to the 231,000 SF headquarters building for the Department of Health, will also include a 115-120 key hotel with 38,000 SF of ancillary office space, approximately 29,000 SF of neighborhood serving local retail, and a 134 unit senior affordable building. The office, hotel and residential buildings are a vital component of the larger, eight (8) acre redevelopment plan which includes approximately 1.5 million SF of mixed-use development approved for the property,” said John Gerber, CEO, Four Points. “The Reunion Square project will bring dramatic economic development and added vibrancy to the Historic Anacostia neighborhood of Ward 8 and leverage investments already made or planned by the District of Columbia. It is an important next step in the redevelopment of the property into a dynamic, mixed-use urban center.  Our team would like to thank Mayor Bowser, Councilmember White and the City Council for their tremendous support of the Reunion Square development in the form of the Reunion Square TIF and the selection of our site for the Department of Health Headquarters.”
 
“Ward 8 Day” showcased the District’s progress in expanding economic opportunity throughout Ward 8. For more information on these and other projects, please visit dmped.dc.gov.