NPR to Build 400,000SF Headquarters in D.C.’s NoMa Submarket

In a boon to Washington, D.C.’s emerging NoMa submarket, National Public Radio has decided to stay in the city and build a new 400,000-square-foot headquarters at 1111 North Capitol St. NE. The broadcast and digital media company will renovate the 165,000-square-foot historic C&P telephone warehouse it acquired from J Street Development into a 10-story office building in excess of 400,000 square feet. The building is currently being used as warehouse space by the Smithsonian Institution. Economic development officials in the surrounding jurisdictions with lower land values have been aggressively courting the organization; to help level the playing field, the District had agreed to a 20-year tax abatement and new streetscape improvements around the nearby New York Avenue Metrorail station. Art Greenberg, Vernon Knarr, David Perlstein, Julie Rayfield of Studley Inc. represented the client on behalf of this deal.”This is big news,” Bruce McNair, senior vice president of Grubb & Ellis Co.’s Washington, D.C., office, told CPN. “It validates the NoMa submarket, which has been perceived as a government and General Services Administration destination. As one of the biggest non-profits, [NPR] brings credibility and prestige to the market.” McNair was not involved in the deal, but he said Grubb & Ellis has clients looking for space in D.C.; these clients have thus far been reluctant to look at NoMa, but this deal may change perceptions. Ken Stern, CEO of NPR (pictured), said today in a release that the proximity of the site to key governmental institutes is critical to the organization’s journalists, and also noted the site’s proximity to vital transportation hubs. NPR began in D.C. almost 40 years ago, and was one of the first companies to move into the Penn Quarter neighborhood when it purchased its current building in 1992. McNair said NPR has been pioneering before; it moved to its current location at 635 Massachusetts Ave. NW when the area was “basically a wasteland.” “Since we began in 1970, NPR has had deep roots in and a strong commitment to the Washington community,” Stern said in a release. “We are thrilled to be part of the revitalization of the NoMa neighborhood and to serve as an anchor for the rich mix of businesses, media organizations and residential life it promises to bring to our city.” NPR had been on the ground for a while; an article written by Sonny Goldreich in the February 8 edition of Maryland newspaper The Gazette said that Montgomery County, Md., had made a formal offer to NPR to relocate its headquarters to Silver Spring, Md. At the time, NPR said it was focused on sites in the Silver Spring, NoMa and Southeast submarkets. NPR joins two other major NoMa headquarters, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It also joins submarket tenants CNN and XM Radio. As for development, NPR will retain the façade and portions of the structure, integrating it into the new tower. All of the company’s 600 Washington-based journalism, multimedia, business and executive activities will be housed in this new facility, with occupancy planned for 2012. The new headquarters will include a 60,000 square feet of space for NPR News’ extensive broadcast and multimedia operations and a public space for live shows and events. The building will be located next to the district’s $700 million Northwest One New Communities project, which calls for rebuilding hundreds of nearby public housing units and replacing them with a mix of affordable, workforce and market-rate units, as well as a new school, library and community center. The entire NoMa neighborhood is slated for more than 20 million scare feet of new development. Two days ago, D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty unveiled the Center City Action Agenda, which calls for using incentives to promote private sector investment in emerging neighborhoods like NoMA, the Ballpark district, D.C.’s waterfront and east of the Anacostia River.