GU Explores Growth Beyond Hilltop
Published: Friday, September 7, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 7, 2012 02:09
With its growth potential thwarted by space restrictions in Georgetown and limitations imposed by the 2010 Campus Plan agreement, the university has begun to look beyond its main campus for a place to expand.
Georgetown has operated satellite campuses for its Law Center and School of Continuing Studies for a century, but administrators have suggested that this new location would relocate a wider variety of programs, including graduate programs, away from main campus.
SCS recently announced plans to consolidate its three locations into a new 91,000-square-foot facility, dubbed Georgetown Downtown, in Mount Vernon Square, and the university has hired developer Forest City Enterprises to develop a strategy for further long-term expansion in D.C.
While an Aug. 26 report in The Washington Post said that Georgetown is eyeing a tract of land of about 100 acres either next to RFK Stadium or on park land in Ward 8, Chief Operating Officer Chris Augostini said that the university’s master plan for expansion will shift and develop based on input from students, faculty, Forest City and neighborhood groups.
“The [plan for 100 acres] is just a proxy. We don’t know what that will mean actually,” Augostini said. “We have to take information from the process we engage our students and faculty in and determine where would be the best place to grow going forward.”
Augostini’s office has helped facilitate Hoya Roundtables, which gather feedback from students and faculty to determine necessary changes to main campus and generate input on possible expansions.
Augostini said that the university will primarily look to expand into less desirable parts of the city that are set to be gentrified in the coming decades. He cited Forest City’s track record of helping transform run-down areas such as the Navy Yard in southeast D.C. as a main reason the university selected the developer.
“Because of our constraints, particularly financially, we want to have someone here [who] is able to take very interesting sites that might today be unappealing but would have really strong future value,” he said. “Georgetown is an institution that with a very small endowment, competes with the very wealthiest institutions. We need to be creative [and] energetic.”
Gary McManus, spokesman for the Washington office of Forest City, said that the firm’s wealth of experience in D.C. made it a good fit for the project.
“Georgetown recognizes that it is a challenge in a metropolitan area like … D.C. to find a large plot of free land open for development,” McManus said. “Forest City has taken on many large-scale D.C. projects in the past … so we have the insider knowledge on how to make the most out of the area.”
University administrators said that Georgetown’s intent to situate further expansions outside zip code 20007 was pivotal in bringing about the compromise with neighbors that ended the 2010 Campus Plan negotiations. But Augostini insisted that his office has been compelled to explore new sites for a host of reasons, not just backlash from neighbors.
“We began the conversation last fall, and then as we began to have larger conversations it became clear … that [hiring a development consultant] was something we needed,” he said. “It actually far preceded the discussions with the community in terms of the neighborhood settlement. … We’ve tried to divorce this process from the campus plan.”
Augostini added that this master plan, which spans 20 or more years in scope, ends an era of short-term thinking that has afflicted town-gown relations in the past.
Hoya Staff Writer Sarah Kaplan contributed to this report.