“Public/Private Partnerships: Complete Streets & Large-Scale Development” webinar recap

On October 18th we hosted “Public/Private Partnerships: Complete Streets & Large-Scale Development” the eighth installment in our monthly webinar series, Implementation & Equity 201: The Path Forward to Complete Streets. A recording of the webinar is now available above. You can also download the PDF of the presentation, or read the brief recap below.

A discussion recap

This webinar explored the redevelopment of the Former Walter Reed Army Medical Center, we heard from the Local Redevelopment Authority (District of Columbia Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED)) and one of the Master Developers at Hines. Adriann Murawski, State and Local Government Affairs Representative for National Association of REALTORS® kicked off the webinar. Adriann touched on how transportation is a deciding factor when business owners, homeowners or developers decide to invest. NAR has been on the Steering Committee for the National Complete Streets Coalition since 2008.  Mike Jelen who is Vice President and Managing Director for the Washington, DC region at VHB Engineering also serves on the Coalition’s Steering Committee. Mike explained how this is one of the first webinars in the series to explore land development and Complete Streets from a holistic city approach. Following Mike and Adriann’s introductions, Uwe Brandes set the stage for the benefits of public and private partnerships and served as the moderator for the webinar. Uwe is an Associate Professor in the Urban and Regional Planning program at Georgetown University.

To start off the presentation, Randall Clarke, Director of the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority described the historical and geographical context of the Walter Reed development project that is located on the northwestern tip of DC. The city did not have access to the land for over 100 years and after initial apprehension, there was a greater openness to the economic opportunities available from developing the site. Clarke, who lives near the site was involved in the over 100 community meetings that lead to the Walter Reed Reuse Plan Goals, which are to integrate the site with existing community; provide a mix of uses; create jobs and revenue, and activate the site.

“Creating a street network is more than just creating a grid on top of Walter Reed.”

Malaika Abernathy Scriven, Walter Reed Project Manager elaborated on a few of the high-level planning strategies and goals for the site, they used Complete Streets concepts when deciding how to reintegrate the site into existing neighborhoods and recognized that the development required a balanced transportation network. “The Parks at Historic Walter Reed” was named due to the historic buildings that surround open space within the site, said Katie Wiacek, Managing Director at Hines, who partnered with Urban-Atlantic and Triden Development Group on the project. Main Drive, one of the historic streets, was approved through the master plan to include a hiker-biker trail to accommodate the needs of people walking and biking. Finally, Walter Reed and its historic legacy connected to healing and innovation are evident in the plan’s sustainability goals. “Net Zero by 2020” calls for green streets, stormwater management, dedicated bike lanes and sustainable modes of transportation.

“Any responsible approach to creating Complete Streets has to integrate infrastructure and land use together.”

To account for current and future transportation alternatives the development team decided on a maximum cap on parking, enforced through the zoning code. And hopes that ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, as well as the three planned bike share services that will be present on site, will reduce the need for car ownership over time. Another option that has been considered is creating “pull-over” lanes for picking up and dropping off instead of parking lanes.

The District of Columbia is growing rapidly and this project is essentially creating a new neighborhood with existing land in addition to affordable housing, jobs, and tax revenue that will benefit the surrounding communities. The site and parcels will be constructed over 10 years, and fully built in 15 years.


We had so many great questions during the Q&A section of the webinar that we couldn’t get to all of them. We sat down with Malaika Abernathy Scriven to discuss the answers to some of the questions we missed.

How was the decision to demolish the hospital made? It seems curious to make the loss of the biggest structure in the project a presumption. Was the community demanding the demolition?
Malaika Abernathy Scriven: The newer hospital facility, also known as Building 2, was constructed between 1972 and 1977, and is the largest structure on the campus. Demolishing this massive 2.7 million of a structure will allow the proposed development to unlock the greatest economic development potential.

Because the site has so many historic buildings and cultural landscapes, the demolition of building 2 will allow for greater density to occur in a context that is compatible to the existing historic campus. This density will be constructed in the middle of the site and will create a catalytic town center, inclusive of a large format retailer, a mix of uses and necessary new multi-modal streets.

What percentage of units are planned to be affordable and for how long? And how will they be integrated into the site?
MAS: As part of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s affordable housing initiative, the 3.1 million square feet development program includes approximately 2,100 residential units, of which 432 are affordable at varying levels of affordability (30%, 50%, and 80%). The zoning regulations require distribution of affordable housing throughout the Site but did not prohibit certain populations, such as seniors and homeless veterans, from being served in specific locations.

In regards to open space and landscaping– has there been much thought into continuity with nearby Rock Creek Park? Really interested in more “naturalized” approaches to landscaping.
MAS: The Reuse Plan and Small Area Plan celebrates the campus’s existing and quite significant open spaces. In celebrating the campus’s significant historic character and campus-like setting, it was important to make all new open spaces accessible to the community and visitors. These spaces are important connections necessary to seamlessly tie into the existing neighborhood and provides a unique opportunity to showcase innovative sustainability features.

The main open space in front of Building 1, relates to the Great Lawn as an extension of Rock Creek Park. Other, secondary areas of the site are supported by a series of smaller open spaces characterized by the type of uses around it. This includes the main plaza in the northeast corner that serves as a “green breather” towards Georgia Avenue and will attract visitors to the site. Other green connections include an open boulevard with the extension of 13th Street into the site and a series of pocket-sized parks in between the different buildings on the site.

How much of the uses were determined by the market study vs. community input?
MAS: Both the Reuse and the Small Area Plan were supported by extensive market research and infrastructure analyses conducted over a 10-year planning process. These analyses reflect not only the input received throughout the intensive public engagement process but also the realities of the current and forecasted economic conditions in the Washington DC metro area. The development recognizes that the full build-out of the property will take as many as 20 years to complete.

Join us for our next webinar

Thank you to our presenters and to everyone who tuned in to “Public/Private Partnerships: Complete Streets & Large-Scale Development”. Stay tuned for more information about our next webinar Promoting Equitable Change through Creative Placemaking & Complete Streets at 1 pm EDT on Tuesday, November 21. You can also access all of our previous webinars on our blog.

Complete Streets