NAACP will move its national HQ to D.C. from Baltimore with the redevelopment of the Reeves Center

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People plans a future headquarters move from Baltimore to D.C., with the civil rights group eventually relocating to a redeveloped Reeves Center at the heart of the U Street corridor.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Monday that she’s signed a letter of intent with the NAACP to bring the group to the District, specifically targeting 2000 14th Street NW, currently the Frank D. Reeves Center of Municipal Affairs, for its new home. The Reeves Center is home to a variety of D.C. government agencies, but Bowser’s administration has spent more than a year weighing its redevelopment potential.

“Washington, D.C., sits at the epicenter of change,” Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO, said in a release. “This exceptional opportunity to bring our national headquarters to D.C. will allow us to be even more proactive in serving the Black community, and confronting the serious challenges facing the nation.”

The NAACP only recently picked a new headquarters within Baltimore, inking an eight-year lease for a full floor in a downtown office tower there late last year. The group has entertained the possibility of moving to D.C. several other times in the past, including dalliances with the District in both 2007 and 2010 before ultimately deciding to remain in Baltimore.

Now that the District has landed such a prominent tenant, Bowser is ready to commit to overhauling the aging Reeves Center into a “transit-oriented, mixed-use development with office space, affordable housing and neighborhood-serving amenities in a way that reflects the site’s historic and cultural significance,” according to a news release.

“The Reeves Center stands in an iconic and culturally significant area of the U Street corridor with deep connections to the NAACP,” Bowser said in a statement. “As we continue fighting for change and working to build a more fair and just nation, we look forward to welcoming this iconic civil rights organization to Washington, D.C.”

Bowser’s spokespeople did not immediately release details about the terms of the letter of intent, or any time frame for when the NAACP will make the move to D.C. — actually completing the Reeves project will take years. However, they did say the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development will issue a solicitation for private partners to manage the redevelopment sometime this year. The NAACP is described in the city’s release as a “foundational partner” in the effort.

Reeves opened in 1986 as a project championed by the late former mayor and councilman Marion Barry to revitalize the corridor, and it remains the highly trafficked home of many D.C. employees offering city services. But its desirable location and deteriorating condition has made it a popular target for redevelopment — it was most recently part of a land-swap deal aimed at winning a new D.C. United stadium and was pitched as a potential landing spot for Amazon’s second headquarters, though neither of those concepts came to pass.

But Bowser restarted the process of redeveloping the center last March, commissioning a study of its potential to be transformed into office space, housing, retail or hotel. And at the same time, she’s been pushing to move agencies out of Reeves, recently securing a new lease in Ward 7 for the Department of General Services, one of the largest departments located in the building.

However, there are still many more based there — D.C. Fire and EMS, the Department of Public Works and the Department of Corrections, among them — and it’s unclear whether those will remain at Reeves once the NAACP moves in, or go elsewhere.

By Alex Koma  – Staff Reporter, Washington Business Journal