Students Testify in Support of Building Project

D.C. Zoning Commission considers new development on Pennsylvania Avenue

November 19, 2012

rendering of the exterior of Square 75

George Washington University’s efforts to redevelop several of its investment properties on Pennsylvania Avenue took an important step forward when the D.C. Zoning Commission held a public hearing Thursday to review project design and details. 

“We’re pleased with the support received from students and neighbors at the hearing, including more than 10 students attending the hearing and more than 60 letters of support,” said senior associate vice president Alicia Knight. “Just as with the other dozen plus hearings that have occurred since 2006 on projects associated with the 2007 Foggy Bottom Campus Plan, the Zoning Commission appreciated the university’s work to ensure it presents a proposal that benefits the neighborhood, the university and the city.” 

Ms. Knight said the hearing was the culmination of a year-long dialogue with the community prior to the hearing. This dialogue resulted in appropriate project modifications and a robust amenities package that benefits the neighborhood, the university and the district as a whole, and will be a positive addition to the campus and community. Ms. Knight said the retail for the site will be planned in coordination with the university’s ongoing efforts to further small, locally owned businesses on the Foggy Bottom Campus.

Jacob Thayer, a senior and president of GW’s Residence Hall Association, testified in support of the project. He said attending the hearing was an educational opportunity for him as a student advocate, allowing him to see the process the university must go through to advance its mission.

“I'm excited to see the end result of Square 75A, and will continue working with the administration to further students' needs in this project and future projects,” he said.

The project combines the redevelopment of townhouses in the 2100 block Pennsylvania Avenue (called site 75A in the 2007 Foggy Bottom Campus Plan) with an existing unoccupied investment property (2100 Pennsylvania Avenue West, formerly occupied by Kaiser Permanente) to create a new commercial building.

Ms. Knight said combining these sites will create a more efficient development and maximize the value of GW’s investment properties in support of its academic mission.

Junior Thomas Kellogg also testified in support of the project.

“The modern architecture will enhance the north side of campus while increasing capital that will further our academic mission,” he said.

Ms. Knight said that upon final Zoning Commission approval, anticipated in early 2013, the university will work with an experienced third-party developer who will be responsible for development of the property—similar to The Avenue, formerly called Square 54—in order to generate non-tuition-driven revenue.

“Enhancing the investment potential of this property is similar to practices of major universities across the country,” Ms. Knight said. “GW has a long tradition of using income from investment properties to help fund its academic mission. One example is the annual revenue from The Avenue being used to fund the creation of the Science and Engineering Hall,” she said.