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tombarnes

St. Elizabeth's Hospital

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St. Elizabeth's Hospital- An Enormous Opportunity

The west campus of St. Elizabeth's Hospital has been abandoned since 2001, with various plans bandied about for its eventual reuse. Most developers have shied away from the site due to the tremendous costs involved in restoring the buildings. The site is unquestionably worth saving, with a main building designed by Thomas U. Walter, the architect wgo designed the Capitol dome. Currently, the Department of Homeland Security has designs on the site, but many don't want to see a government agency taking over the campus. This would surely invite no one into its secured premises and would further isolate one of the most magnificent sites in the region. While it's highly likely that a government agency will be the only candidate for the sprawling west campus (the east campus has different ownership and is still used as a mental institution), a possibility for a mixed-use solution is still on the table. Whither St. Elizabeth's?

The Washington Post

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It's somewhat surprising to not have some condo developer have interest in the place. After all, condo developers pretty much want any vacant or available piece of property in the BosWash.

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Actually, condo developers have looked at the property- indeed they've been slavering over it for years. Most have sprinted away because of the huge costs involved in renovating the buildings. Also, the nearby residents have not been terribly friendly towards the idea of an expansive enclave of condos sprouting up beside them- not that this sentiment really matters in the economic reality here. Mostly, the buildings are so expensive to renovate that only the government is willing to take them on- thus the conundrum here. I'd love to see them turned into a vibrant mixed-use complex with shops, offices, condos and apartments for various income brackets. Whether or not this will happen remains to be seen.

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Actually, condo developers have looked at the property- indeed they've been slavering over it for years. Most have sprinted away because of the huge costs involved in renovating the buildings. Also, the nearby residents have not been terribly friendly towards the idea of an expansive enclave of condos sprouting up beside them- not that this sentiment really matters in the economic reality here. Mostly, the buildings are so expensive to renovate that only the government is willing to take them on- thus the conundrum here. I'd love to see them turned into a vibrant mixed-use complex with shops, offices, condos and apartments for various income brackets. Whether or not this will happen remains to be seen.

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St. Elizabeth's Hospital- HSA?

It looks as though any dreams of a mixed-use utopia at the western campus of St. Elizabeth's Hospital will not see reality. The most likely candidate is the Department of Homeland Security ($3 billion, if you please) . Two plans are being considered at this point which promise to preserve Thomas U. Walters' original main building, but the entirety of the campus will not be spared. One plan would save 25 buildings, the other just 18. I'm not going to quibble over the number of buildings preserved or the rightness of the re-use of the property by a public agency. This is Washington, so it shouldn't surprise anyone to see another large government agency putting down roots in almost any part of the city. Concerns about the magnitude and density of the development are certainly valid, as the project will generate huge volumes of traffic. Concerns about the fortresslike nature of such a compound also deserve consideration.

Over the next couple of months, the GSA and the D.C. Council will review the options presented before them. I hope to see something that will preserve the best elements of the property and one which will somehow address the surrounding neighborhood.

Thw Washington Post

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