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Community Engagement is Key - The Parks at Walter Reed is Proof

This year's Home Rule Music Festival will be held at the Parks at Walter Reed (The Parks) featuring jazz and Go-go music artists with plenty of food and craft vendors to choose from. This newish community was developed after the closing of the historic Walter Reed Army Medical Center site in 2011. As part of the community outreach efforts, first through AmericanSpeaks then as PEA, we engaged a broad swath of the community capturing and sharing the ideas, demands and needs of residents and stakeholders in a multi-year engagement process.

Officially closing its campus in 2011, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center sat largely dormant while the City made plans to acquire just over 66 acres of the site for 22 million dollars. The State Department initially moved to acquire the entire Walter Reed campus. However, the federal government transferred 12 acres to Children’s National Hospital and reserved the 66.57 acres that DC ultimately purchased for mixed-use redevelopment. It was after the purchase that the more important work began: deciding exactly how to redevelop the site.

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), working with The Department of State (DoS), and the project’s D.C. based architecture, planning and landscape design team, Perkins & Will, moved quickly to begin the community outreach and public engagement efforts for the Reuse Plan. The Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) was established by Mayor Anthony Williams, to oversee the preparation of the Reuse Plan. From the beginning, the community’s involvement in the development of the Reuse Plan and Small Area Plan was a critical component of success. We engaged more than 1,000 mostly-Ward 4 residents along with city-wide stakeholders to contribute to the reuse plan. Community meetings were held at each phase of the process and each of them had extensive small group discussions and keypad polling to determine the preferences of the participants. But the community engagement didn’t end with community meetings. The community continued to be informed and engaged throughout this multi-year engagement process to influence the decision-making processes through a robust combination of open houses, neighborhood canvassing, pop-ups and general outreach and communications.

The impact of community engagement can also be seen in the Department of State portion of the planning site. PEA worked with the LRA, DMPED, the reuse planning team of Perkins-Will, and the community at-large, to design and facilitate seven public workshops over 18 months to fully engage surrounding neighborhoods and stakeholders in the DOS re-use planning effort.

Today the Parks at Walter Reed is a vibrant and still growing mixed-use community. Once completed, the project will be 3.1 million square feet of mixed-use development. In large part, because of public engagement and input the project features: affordable housing for seniors, veterans, and low and middle-income workers; market-rate homes; the DC International School more than 700 apartments and condominiums; 60,000 square feet of retail, including the retail anchor, Whole Foods Market; and a host of outdoor amenities with a network of parks and plazas.

The Walter Reed LRA understood the importance of community input in the early stages of the project as well as the urgent housing needs for seniors and veterans in a growing community. There is still much to do and develop at The Parks but you can watch the progress and enjoy the many activities and community events!

At PEA we believe that comprehensive community engagement that focuses on diversity and inclusion is critical to developing and sustaining safe, productive, and dynamic communities. We are fortunate to have shared this planning journey with the community and to have led the effort to make sure that community priorities were reflected in the design of The Parks at Walter Reed.


Walter Reed Army Medical Center Local Redevelopment Authority

A New Neighborhood Is Growing At The Old Walter Reed Army Medical Center In D.C. SEPTEMBER 15, 2021, Martin Austermuhle, This story is from, the local news website of WAMU retrieved here The Parks at Historic Walter Reed

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