WASHINGTON, DC-Mayor Anthony Williams has announced new District development projects in what he says is part of a response to President Bush’s call to “return to our normal lives.” In addition to advocating support for the retail sector, the Mayor reveals that the city is moving forward with new construction projects.

Among the developments intended to give the area a boost is the $14.1 million renovation of Downtown’s Mather Building. PN Hoffman and Gilford Construction Corporation will construct 40 condominiums atop the nine-story structure, 30% of which will be reserved as affordable housing space. In addition, the contractors have agreed to convert the first floor of the 78,400-sf structure into an arts center, complete with gallery, dance studio, workstations and an auditorium. The Cultural Development Corporation has already signed on to lease the space in a 10-year, low-rate deal. “We’re taking another step towards turning our downtown into a living, breathing neighborhood,” Williams says in a statement, “a neighborhood where people work, shop and live; a neighborhood known for its entertainment venues, cultural attractions and office buildings; a neighborhood that’s connected to our neighborhoods throughout the city.

The Mayor also revealed that groundwork for the Freedom Forum’s new Newseum structure will begin at week’s end. The former DOES building will be demolished and replaced by a 555,000-sf complex that will include the museum, the Freedom Forum headquarters, an international conference center, as well as retail and residential space. The Newseum’s former home in Arlington, VA closed earlier this month and is not scheduled to reopen in its new District digs until 2005.

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