Oct 27, 2021 - News

Navy Yard developer hopes to add Big Tech campus

A rendering of concept future development in Navy Yard with a potential company campus highlighted.

A tech campus could fill the highlighted, currently-vacant parcel. Graphic: Axios Visuals. Rendering: Brookfield Properties

Navy Yard's building boom has transformed the city's riverfront, and one of its top developers is hoping to add a new tech company campus to the lineup.

Why it matters: Another tech campus across the river from Amazon's HQ2 in Arlington would bolster the region's pivot away from a federal government-focused economy.

The details: Brookfield Properties, the builder behind the 48-acre development dubbed "The Yards," is gearing up to pitch the premier site to tech companies out West. 

  • Greg Meyer of Brookfield tells Axios that the large grassy site at M and First streets SE is reserved while construction continues nearby on mixed-use projects.
  • "That's something we have earmarked to build, a three-building campus, which could be close to a million square feet in size, that ideally will be a headquarters or at least a large campus presence for a tenant," said Meyer, who heads Brookfield's Washington region properties.

Earlier this month, Brookfield broke ground on another residential project. 

  • Eventually, a pedestrian-only street will stretch several blocks from the Navy Yard Metro-Ballpark station on M Street SE to the Anacostia River. 
  • Within the broader 480-acre Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, there are currently 16,000 residents, with projections for 35,000 residents once at full buildout, according to the Capitol Riverfront BID.

Ideas for a major tech campus are still in their early days, Meyer emphasizes, and he has also heard interest for higher education use.

With record office vacancy rates in downtown D.C., neighborhoods along the riverfront have fared better with their mix of entertainment, residential, public space, and workspace.

  • “It's not like you're living in a new development out in an office park in the suburbs,” said Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen. "You’re going to live with the ballpark, with the river, with the concerts on Friday nights."

Yes, but: Allen is aware of the challenges that come with growth. Crediting past projects that created new public parks, he stresses the importance of continuing to retain public spaces while Navy Yard is built out.

  • He also calls for a rethinking of M Street, from Southwest to Southeast, to create faster bus service and better bicycle lanes to reduce car traffic.
  • "I think everyone knows it's a significant corridor that we have to find some solutions to," he told Axios. "But I think that the political will to make some of those changes has been elusive thus far."

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