The first meeting of the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) since the announcement that the land formerly designated to the General Services Administration will now be granted to the District of Columbia was held last night. A representative from Perkins+Will, the Chicago-based architecture firm that's serving as master planner for the site, emphasized that the District gaining all of the Georgia Avenue frontage, particularly the upper northwestern corner of the site, opens new opportunities for both development and street connectivity. The series of community meetings/workshops on the redevelopment of Walter Reed held last spring will recommence next month, as the gaining of the 30+ acres of land will provide more opportunities for community input.
A representative from the U.S. Army said that the Army intends to meet the planned closing date of September 15, despite the fact that some have called for the closure to be delayed. The new boundaries between the District's portion of the site and the State Department's portion will be officially published in July. After closure, ten federally-appointed resident caretakers will be onsite to assist with the transition process.
A representative from the State Department discussed the department's plans for its portion of the land: a chancery center, similar to the one on Van Ness Street NW between Connecticut Avenue and Reno Road. He said that some chanceries would most likely relocate to Walter Reed from older embassy buildings on Massachusetts Avenue, giving them the opportunity to modernize. These plans raised many concerns for members of the LRA...will it be like a blockade cutting off the neighborhood, which countries would be represented, what security measures are in place? The State Department rep couldn't give concrete answers to most questions as the plans are in the very beginning stages.
Perkins+Will emphasized that the new chancery center will also enhance development opportunities, as officials at the chanceries will want and need easy access to amenities.