- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 26, 2003

A team of five Harvard graduate students yesterday beat out three other college teams in a competition to theoretically revitalize the District's dilapidated area around South Capitol and M streets.
Kirstin Garcia, Jeff Baxter, Cathy Lynch, Omar Brownson and Seth Riseman proposed shaping a 16-block area around South Capitol Street as a trendy neighborhood to draw a younger crowd.
They presented their plan in the Urban Land Institute's first Gerald D. Hines Urban Design Competition.
The competition gave the four teams, which included the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Southern California and the University of Pennsylvania, a hypothetical budget of $50 million and the challenge of creating a first-phase plan to revive the area along South Capitol Street connecting neighborhoods from the Anacostia River to Capitol Hill.
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) chose the site because the D.C. government has planned to redevelop much of the surrounding area, which is considered one of the city's most blighted neighborhoods.
Harvard's plan calls for keeping existing clubs and developing all types of affordable housing, some retail space, a grocery store and a community arts cinema.
"We wanted to build around the existing assets and complement the residential area with the public investment of a better urban retail and entertainment space," Miss Lynch said.
An eight-member jury made up of planning officials and real estate developers voted unanimously for Harvard's plan, saying it was the most economically feasible.
"The Harvard team was successful because they didn't take on the expensive goal of rebuilding South Capitol Street, but instead focused on improving the cultural and residential side of the area," said Patricia Gallagher, a judge and executive director of the National Capital Planning Commission.
Gerald Hines, sponsor and creator of the competition, said the four ideas succeeded in achieving his goal to allow students a chance to work on a real estate project with people in various fields.
Mr. Baxter said the group, which had business and finance members on the team, came up with a better plan as a result of having to consult with professionals outside their field.
"We created something better than any one of us could develop on our own because we weren't acting in an individual vacuum," he said.
The group will receive $50,000 from ULI, which said the plans may be used in future development of the site.
USC came in second with its plan of developing an open space to encourage mingling among residents and businesses.
The MIT and the University of Pennsylvania teams tied for third.

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