Radio One backs out of plan to move to DC


The Washington Post reports a deal that would have brought Radio One back to its home town has fallen apart, according to District officials. Council members said 2/25 that Radio One has backed out of its plan to build its HQ in the District’s Shaw neighborhood, from its current location in suburban Maryland.

Graham said he was stunned by the Radio One board’s decision: “To be told at the 11th hour that they would not be coming was quite a setback. This was a very significant turn of events.”

Council member Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large), who chairs the Economic Development Committee, said Radio One was unable to move forward with the developer. “I was told by the developer that Radio One could not meet the deadline to close on the project…It’s a tough economy out there. The company doesn’t seem to be in the same position it was a while ago. The developer has to move now [on the project] and can’t wait.”

Now, Brown told the paper, the United Negro College Fund will replace Radio One, occupying 50,000 square feet in the building. The UNCF “will put a learning center in the building, allowing people from all over the city and the country to apply for college scholarships,” he said. “It will be another tourist destination.”
The project also will include retail space on the first floor and more than 200 apartments. Construction will begin in August and will be complete in about a year.

The city and Radio One had been negotiating since 2008 on a deal for the 30-year-old company to relocate to a site near Howard University in the Shaw neighborhood, at Seventh Street NW between S and T streets.

From a Radio One release to investors:

“Radio One, Inc announced today that it has decided not to lease space at the residential/office complex to be constructed by Four Points, LLC at Seventh and S Streets, N.W., DC.

Alfred C. Liggins, III, Radio One’s CEO and President commented, “We understand the significance of revitalizing the Shaw neighborhood and are grateful to the District of Columbia for having allocated significant funds to assist Four Points in attracting a tenant such as Radio One. We wish the District much success in encouraging the continued economic development of the Shaw neighborhood.”

The District of Columbia first allocated funds to the residential/office complex in 2007 to attract Radio One as a tenant when the expected completion date for the office building was 2009. Since then, there has been an unprecedented decline in the economy causing continued postponement of the groundbreaking, which in turn has resulted in substantial delays to our move in date. Radio One reassessed its options in light of the new economic reality and the upcoming expiration of its Lanham, Maryland lease on December 31, 2011, and concluded that this is not the appropriate time to commit to moving its operations to a yet to be constructed building.

The current economic climate requires fiscal discipline and, as a public company, Radio One has an obligation to be austere in its approach to the use of capital. Radio One believes that there are more cost effective options for our corporate headquarters, especially given the decline in rents and widespread availability of commercial real estate. With numerous opportunities in all local jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, Radio One is confident it can achieve its goals of relocating the Company’s operations, including the operations of TV One, to an office building with reasonable occupancy costs, easy access for employees and ample parking.”