WASHINGTON, DC-The US Armed Forces Retirement Home is preparing to put 276 acres of its campus up for lease to private developers. The organization hopes to generate a consistent source of income through the ground leases on mixed-use projects and will begin accepting proposals for such developments later this fall.

Delta Associates sums up the current developable land situation in its Trendlines 2005 report on the Washington/Baltimore area by turning an eye toward land acquisitions. “Land sales in the District are averaging $109 per FAR sf, reflecting the demand for prime parcels Downtown–and the difficulty of assembling large tracts,” the research firm concludes in the annual overview. “We expect builders will become more active in land acquisition in 2005, as speculative development becomes more popular.”

Situated between the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery and Washington Hospital Center on the edge of Catholic University, the AFRH campus is an historic locale that was developed in 1851 as the Soldiers’ Home. Today the property still has buildings from the early 20th Century. The portion of the site that will be available for development is a southeast segment that is bordered by Irving Street and N. Capitol Street.

As per AFRH’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which was recently presented to the National Capital Planning Commission, the organization has three different development plans in mind for the property. One plan proposes nearly 2.6 million sf of institutional space, 3.2 million sf for R&D, 1.6 million sf for medical, 130,000 sf of retail, one million sf reserved for residential units and a 200,000-sf hotel and conference center. Option two consists of two different possibilities, both of which total just over six million sf and involve the same elements as the first plan but at different sizes, as well as a potential embassy segment. The third alternative involves approximately 400,000 sf of institutional space, 300,000 sf of retail, five million sf for residential use and 700,00 sf for office use. AFRH is expected to settle on developers in the winter of 2006 and will then work in conjunction with the US General Services Administration on the endeavor.

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