Apex Supports Howard University’s Community Revitalization Project

Howard university rendering

Development Team Selected For Howard University’s Highly Competitive Bond Bread/WRECO Project

April 1, 2019 | Written by Howard Newsroom Staff

WASHINGTON— Eighteen months after launching a highly competitive developer selection process, Howard University has identified its preferred development partner to redevelop the Bond Bread Factory and Washington Railway & Electric Company buildings, located across from Howard University Hospital, at Georgia Avenue and V Street, Northwest. The University’s Board of Trustees approved plans to enter into exclusive negotiations with EDENS, Fivesquares Development and the Menkiti Group (The Bond Partnership) to reimagine the 2.2-acre project into a 600,000 square foot mixed-use hub of activity. Under a capitalized ground lease structure, Howard will maintain fee simple ownership of the property to preserve and enhance its real estate portfolio—realizing fair market value and capitalization, as well as long-term participation in the project’s economic success.

This project furthers the University’s real estate strategy, championed by President Wayne A. I. Frederick, to monetize underutilized real estate assets and generate capital for mission-based reinvestment. The Bond Bread project fulfills Howard’s desire to revitalize the Georgia Avenue corridor and create significant opportunities for minority business participation in major projects.

“Bond Bread/WRECO presents a unique opportunity for Howard University to energize the revitalization of our community. The Bond Partnership has proposed a compelling destination for students and the greater District of Columbia community that will generate local jobs and offer value for Howard to reinvest in its mission,” says President Wayne A. I. Frederick. “We carefully selected this team because of their innovative vision for the site, respect for its historic structures, experience working with diverse stakeholders, and their ability to generate value. I am thrilled to work together to transform this site into a thriving part of the surrounding Shaw and Pleasant Plains neighborhoods. We look forward to partnering with a development team that can bring this vision to life.”

After receiving more than 20 responses to its Request for Qualifications, Howard University carefully reviewed detailed responses to a Request for Proposals from six down-selected teams. During the 18-month selection process, Howard outlined detailed financial, programmatic, and mission-based criteria for the project, including the desire to create a gateway to the University, instilling a sense of place through the use of high-quality urban design, and including a thoughtful interface with the adjacent campus and hospital. Teams were required to incorporate community and campus requests from a Howard-led survey with more than 1,000 respondents. The University worked with local and national experts in real estate, architecture, historic preservation, and environmental remediation to assess each proposal and conducted interviews with all RFP respondents. Howard will now enter into exclusive negotiations with The Bond Partnership to define financial and business terms. If the University is unable to execute an agreement with the preferred development team, Howard will return to the next two highest ranked teams to begin negotiations.

“We are honored,” said the Development Team of EDENS, Fivesquares Development, and The Menkiti Group (The Bond Partnership). “To work on this transformational project to further Howard University’s vital mission and legacy through the creation of a dynamic new neighborhood development concept centered on a multi-tiered, actively programmed public space that will create a vital neighborhood center at this important intersection of the local community and Howard University. We believe our concept will achieve the long-held aspiration of Howard University and the DUKE Plan to “knit the community together through new development.”

The proposed program seeks to bridge the gap between Howard’s central campus and the vibrant U Street community while addressing the vision outlined in the Duke Small Area Plan. The site will offer multifamily, hotel, and in-line restaurant and retail use, in addition to a marketplace and public park.

The development team plans to leverage the site’s grade change innovatively by locating a marketplace beneath the public park, which will span much of the block. The market and park will be programmed with events to create a vibrant destination and offer new amenities to serve students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community.

Beyond physical attributes, the project will offer mission-oriented benefits to Howard stakeholders, including internships for students, a retail incubator for student ventures, and collaboration of the use of spaces for Howard events. The Bond Partnership is dedicated to creating opportunities for minority participation in the project, at both the ownership and service provider levels. At least 20 percent of project equity will be sourced from minority-owned Menkiti Group, creating a critical wealth generation opportunity.

“Bond Bread will play a pivotal role in the revival of Georgia Avenue by creating a unique 24/7 environment, and I am proud that the University had a diverse set of development options from which to make a selection,” says Howard Real Estate Executive Anthony Freeman. “As one of the most active institutions throughout the country that is implementing complex on-campus and off-campus real estate and privatization transactions, the Real Estate organization and its diverse evaluation team are proud to have selected this development partner in response to the comprehensive requirements outlined in the RFP. Howard will benefit from having a well-capitalized partner that is both experienced in placemaking and understands the unique needs of institutional owners.”

Howard will now work with The Bond Partnership to program the site collaboratively and launch a multi-year entitlement process prior to groundbreaking. The University’s development partners will lead the design and financing of the development, as well as efforts to obtain zoning and historic preservation approvals. The proposed development program must progress through historic preservation and campus master plan reviews, during which stakeholders will have an opportunity to review and comment.

Howard has relied on a dedicated team of industry leaders in real estate, finance, historic preservation, and environmental remediation to reach this milestone, including: Alvarez & Marsal; Apex Companies; EHT Traceries; and Lerch Early & Brewer.

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About the Development Team

EDENS, Fivesquares Development and the Menkiti Group are responsible for a number of high-profile projects in the DC area and together form the selected development team, the “Bond Partnership.”

EDENS is a retail real estate owner, operator and developer of a nationally leading portfolio of 125 places including Washington, D.C.’s Union Market and Fairfax County, VA’s Mosaic District. Their purpose is to enrich community through human engagement.

Fivesquares Development is a developer of mixed-use projects and partners with non-profit institutions to unlock the value of their real estate holdings to further their missions and create value. The experience of their principals includes redeveloping the block-long Whitman-Walker Health property at 14th and R streets with a new cultural center and park, Washington’s Anacostia Waterfront Revitalization (which framed developments like The Wharf and The Yards), City Center, Bethesda Row, and London’s Olympic Park. At the helm of Fivesquares is the former DC Director of Planning Andy Altman who is the Managing Partner of the Bond Partnership and oversaw the creation of the original Duke Small Area Plan.

The Menkiti Group is a minority-owned multi-disciplinary development company that invests in emerging neighborhoods and is known for transforming and strengthening communities through community-focused development. The company has invested more than $200 million into emerging neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., and Worcester, MA, has delivered or has in its pipeline more than 1.5 million square feet of property, and has helped more than 2,500 families realize the dream of homeownership. One notable current Menkiti project is the long-awaited MLK Gateway in Southeast Washington.

About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, two Marshall Scholars, one Schwarzman Scholar, over 70 Fulbright Scholars and 22 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.

Media Contact: Alonda Thomas, alonda.thomas@howard.edu

Apex Associated Press (Apex AP) represents contributions from various authors within the Apex professional community.