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 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 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.