- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2008

National Public Radio announced yesterday it would build a new 400,000-square-foot headquarters on North Capitol Street in the District.

The project would represent a big step forward in revitalization of the NoMa — or North of Massachusetts Avenue — neighborhood, where more than 20 million square feet of new developments worth more than $1.5 billion are being built. They include offices, hotels, retail, a grocery store and thousands of new condos and apartments.

The NPR headquarters has been at 635 Massachusetts Ave. NW in the Penn Quarter neighborhood since 1992. It started in the District in 1970, after Congress approved the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, which established the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The move will allow NPR to consolidate their offices and studios into one building. Currently, they are spread over two buildings.

“Their decision to not only stay in the District but to build a new headquarters in one of our most important emerging neighborhoods says a lot about how far we’ve come in transforming our city,” Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said in a statement.

NPR plans to build its new headquarters at 1111 North Capitol St. NE in the former C&P; Telephone warehouse. The warehouse would be converted into a 10-story building.

It would be located next to the District’s $700 million Northwest One New Communities project, a plan to rebuild hundreds of public housing units and replace them with a mix of work force and market rate units, a new school, library and community.

“The proximity of the site to key institutions of government is critical to our journalists,” said Ken Stern, NPR’s chief executive officer. “The accessibility to transportation hubs will enable us to welcome not just the community but our colleagues from public radio stations around the country and many of our 26 million listeners.”

The transportation hubs he mentioned include the nearby New York Avenue Metro station.

The announcement yesterday ends months of speculation about the radio network’s new headquarters and efforts by surrounding communities to get them to relocate there.

Last month, Montgomery County officials made a formal pitch to NPR to relocate in downtown Silver Spring.

The offer followed zoning legislation the county approved in November to raise building height restrictions from 143 feet to 200 feet, partly as an accommodation for NPR.

Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail tramstack@washingtontimes.com.

Until yesterday, radio network officials would say only that they narrowed their search for a new headquarters to three sites: one in Silver Spring, one near the new Washington Nationals ballpark along the Southeast waterfront and the third in the NoMa area.

Silver Spring had an advantage of lower land prices. The District sweetened the deal by offering NPR a 20-year tax abatement and new streetscape improvements around the New York Avenue Metro station.

Mr. Fenty said the financial incentives were part of his Center City Action Agenda, a program he announced this week to promote private-sector investment in emerging neighborhoods.

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