100 Acres Where?

GM forgot to mention last week that this Thursday, the ANC will hold a special meeting to discuss the agreement on the GU campus plan. So if you have questions or concerns, come out to Visitation this Thursday at 6:30.

GM sort of glazed over it last week, but one item probably deserves some more discussion (or at least some baseless speculation!). The agreement says that so long as relations go well, the parties will start discussing in 2018 the long term goals listed on Exhibit A of the agreement. And one of the goals listed under GU’s goals is “identify and develop next 100 acres”.

The agreement doesn’t give context for the goal. Given the timing, GM guesses the purpose of this new 100 acres is to relocate the hospital and medical school. But regardless of what purpose this 100 acres would serve, the bigger question that jumps to GM’s mind is: where the Hell is GU going to find 100 acres!?

For reference: GU’s main campus is 100 acres. There aren’t many available parcels close by that are that large. But there are a few:

St. Elizabeth’s

St. Elizabeth’s is a historic psychiatric hospital located across MLK Ave. in Ward 8. It has 350 acres spread over its west and east campuses. At one point the hospital served 8,000 patients. Nowadays it serves only a very small group of patients, primarily those determined mentally incompetent to face trail (including Albrecht Muth).

In 2007, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to consolidate its many offices around the DC area onto the west campus of St. Elizabeth’s. The District kept the east campus, and is planning to redevelop it. The east campus is 170 acres itself. So there’s definitely room if GU wanted to be an “anchor tenant” of the development. The city would probably be happy to make a deal with GU if it meant the construction of a top notch hospital square in the middle of the city’s poorest ward.

An alternative thought is this: DHS has dragged its feet actually moving to the west campus. GM has spoken with a senior DHS official who told him that they doubted the move would ever happen. It’s remotely possible that DHS might be looking to back out of the deal, and GU could step in.

Old Soldiers Home

The Old Soldiers Home is a massive 250 acre plot of land in Ward 5 that contains the historic Lincoln cottage, where Abraham Lincoln escaped the summer heat. Right now the campus still houses a small population of retired veterans, but about half of the property is a golf course.

In 2005, the administrators of the home proposed to develop the southern section of the property. After some pushback from the surrounding neighborhood (and, as GM hears it, from retired generals who like to golf) the plans seem to have been shelved.

It’s a lot less likely an option for GU than St. Elizabeth’s, but you never know.

Reservation 13

Reservation 13 is the location of the old DC General hospital. The city has been working on plans to redevelop the parcel for years. Despite having issued an RFP several years ago, the city recently went back to square one on the project.

If building a hospital is part of plans, rebuilding a hospital on the site of the old DC General could make GU’s pitch appealing to the city. But GM doubts this would happen.

For one, the whole Reservation 13 is only 67 acres. And the city doesn’t want to go from one single use to another for the property. Second, even if the city thinks it’s a good idea, the neighbors really don’t want one large institutional use for the property.


Those are the only properties GM can think of in the District proper. GU, of course, could explore site in Virginia or Maryland, but GM suspects they want to remain more central.

So if GM had to bet, he’d say St. Elizabeth’s.


Filed under Development

14 responses to “100 Acres Where?

  1. Bud Steinmetz

    I would be surprised if Medstar desired to move off campus, even for a new hospital. The Medstar Georgetown University Hospital is the most “profitable” of the non-profit Medstar chain, and with Sibley the only major local hospital in a solidly upper-income neighborhood. Given the current realities of health care financing, it is not clear why Medstar would want to give up their flagship facility for one in a part of the city that where the majority of patients would likely be funded with Medicaid or Medicare dollars. It seems more likely that MGUH patients would switch care to Sibley or George Washington before driving to southeast DC for care. If the hospital were to move, it would make far more sense for it to move to the former Walter Reed campus, which already has a huge existing medical infrastructure, or to the grounds of the Soldier’s Home, which would make it adjacent to (and possibly merge with) the existing Medstar facilities of Medstar Washington Hospital Center and Medstar National Rehabilitation Hospital, as well as the VA hospital and nearby Howard University Hospital. Again, the Hospital Center does not generate positive revenue, so why Medstar would want to move there is a question.

    Concerning the idea of a non-medical satellite campus: If you’ve ever been to St. Elizabeths, you know that it already looks like a college campus. The buildings and grounds are in disrepair, but it is not hard to envision how the stately century-old buildings and grounds could create a beautiful ready-made collegiate look.

  2. Bort

    GU’s biggest problem is a lack of endowment capital. Unlike GW, GU doesn’t have the resources to buy property when it becomes available (e.g. the Car Barn several years back, or the Exxon Station next door).

    As for Virginia, GU should target the River Place Co-op property or make a play for the Key Bridge Marriott. Both would be impressive sites for the Hospital/Med School although both a little on the small side. Sadly, given the capital limitations, neither property would likely be in GU’s price range.

  3. Topher

    On the money issue, I think part of the idea of getting land from the District (with either St. Es or Reservation 13) is that GU would get the land cheap or free. Such a land transfer would make sense for the city if it involves the hospital moving.

    As for Medstar’s position, yes they don’t want to move, but I’m not sure they can really do anything about that if GU decides to pull the trigger.

  4. J.

    1) AFRH is not off the table and is moving forward internally.

    2) Medstar is certainly not going to relocate their GU hospital property directly next to their Washington Hospital Center property.

    3) Poplar Point

  5. Jacques

    I will definitely be interested to see how this goes, though if I were a betting man, I would lay odds on that 100 acres coming in multiple parcels. Perhaps one large chunk of 40-50 acres at a site like the ones you mentioned, as well as some other smaller chunks in DC or nearby MD/VA.

    I do think that the support of the city for Georgetown U expansion in DC represents a positive sign, and could make such an expansion more likely (even more likely than just its presence in a voluntary agreement).

  6. Andy

    What about Southeastern University? Now that it has closed/merged with Grad School USA – wouldn’t that be ripe for Georgetown to acquire? With the redevelopment in South West – the city would certainly appreciate a major tenant like Georgetown Medical School/GMUH moving in.
    Then there could also be a merger with Marymount in Virginia (though that would mean merging a Scred Heart insitiution into a Jesuit one – getting 100 acres in DC would probably be easier).
    GM – Look forward to following the story here.

  7. asuka

    The hospital is not moving, and even if it was – which it is not – it wouldn’t be GU’s decision to make, as they have no “trigger” to pull. If you’re not sure if that statement is true – which it is – why not make an effort to find out instead of perpetuating a rumor that is completely baseless and untrue?

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  9. Andy

    @askuka – the Dean of GUMC said in 2009 that the medical school can’t continue to exist at the current location (http://alumni.georgetown.edu/newsevents/newsevents_144.html). Can the school and the hospital exist in two seperate locations?

  10. Walter

    My two cents. GU doesn’t have to have its next 100 acres be all in one parcel. For example, it it found space for athletic fields elsewhere, that would free up a modest amount of space on campus.

    I’ve seen three different tabulations of the acreage owned by Visitation: 20, 26, and 45. Georgetown Prep owns 90 acres. How much would it cost GU to buy either campus? St. Joseph’s University (Jesuit) on City Line Avenue in Philadelphia bought the 38 acre campus of Episcopal Academy across the street, and Episcopal moved west.

  11. asuka


    So the dean of the med school said in a three-year-old letter that the med school should move, so the med school is going to move? The dean of the med school does not have a seat on the school’s board. The president of MedStar does. Do any of you really think that Medstar would invest the sorts of capital it has in that hospital without making sure that the school couldn’t arbitrarily kick them off campus? Do any of you think that Medstar would want to uproot what has become its most profitable hospital?Contrary to this blog’s “sources,” the med school is not moving, and the hospital is not moving.

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  13. Dane

    @Walter: There are two athletic fields left for 6,000 students, so that’s not an option. Neither Visi nor Prep is for sale–Georgetown would have more of a chance buying UDC than Visi.

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