The Frank D. Reeves Center for Municipal Affairs could be the NAACP's new headquarters.
**FILE** The Frank D. Reeves Center for Municipal Affairs (Courtesy photo)

Reeves CMC Venture, a team of largely District-based minority firms, has been selected by the Bowser administration to redevelop the Frank D. Reeves Center of Municipal Affairs in Northwest that is slated to include cultural organizations and a permanent home and headquarters for the NAACP.

“I want to thank Mayor Bowser for having confidence in our firm,” said Charles King, a principal and co-founder of CSG Urban Partners, a minority- and-female-owned real estate development firm that will lead the redevelopment of the Reeves Center working in concert with Reeves CMC Venture. “This is part of the mayor’s comeback plan for the city. We want to make the Reeves Center the entertainment and the arts center for D.C. just like it was when the U Street area was considered Black Broadway.”

The Reeves Center is located at the intersection of U Street and 14th Street NW. Once known as Black Broadway, the neighborhood was known for its clubs, theaters and restaurants geared toward African Americans. The neighborhood’s heyday occurred from the 1920s to 1968. It was in 1968 that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated in Memphis and the District exploded into an uprising that devastated many city neighborhoods, including U Street. 

During the 1970s and up until 1985, the U Street area languished economically as people and businesses fled the neighborhood. In 1986, the Reeves Center was opened by the administration of D.C. Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr., with the long-term effect of jumpstarting the neighborhood economically. Barry named the facility after Frank D. Reeves, a District civil rights lawyer, the first Black to sit on the Democratic National Committee and was a confidant of President John F. Kennedy.

Presently, the U Street area has several establishments operating and people of various races living in the surrounding neighborhoods.

The Project’s Details

In addition to the hotel and the NAACP, Reeves CMC Development will have office space for city agencies, affordable and market-rate housing units, a Dave Chappelle Comedy Club, a food establishment led by Chef Carla Hall, an Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and School, a Washington Jazz Institute, and a Viva School of Dance. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the Reeves Center “is symbolic of D.C. resilience.”

“This is an opportunity to double down on our commitment to making our prosperity more inclusive by preserving the history and culture of our community,” Bowser said.

The Reeves redevelopment is one of the largest EquityRFP (request for proposals) awarded by the District government.

The NAACP will move from Baltimore to the District. NAACP CEO and President Derrick Johnson said his organization looks forward to relocating to the new Reeves Center.

“The NAACP is deeply appreciative of the hard work and thoughtful consideration that Mayor Bowser and her team have committed to this project,” Johnson said. “As we continue to echo the calls of Black America in the halls of power, headquartering our offices within our nation’s capital will allow us to further the mission of affecting change on the issues that matter most to our community. We are encouraged by this partnership and are excited to call U Street home.”

King said his team had the support of Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) and advisory neighborhood commission 1B that encompasses the Reeves Center.

“Without the help of Nadeau and Sabel Harris of ANC 1B, we could not have been successful,” he said. “We have also had the support of Virginia Ali, the co-founder and owner of Ben’s Chili Bowl.”

He said despite winning the right to redevelop the Reeves Center, the team will continue to engage the surrounding neighborhoods in the progress of the project.

The groundbreaking for the project is set to take place in 2025, King said, and added the redevelopment should be completed in 24-36 months.. Additionally, he said District residents will be first to get construction and ancillary jobs on the project. Further, District residents enrolled in apprenticeships and internships will also have strong first employment prospects with the project, King said.

King emphasized the city’s Black history will not be ignored.

“The new Reeves Center will have remembrances of such Black icons as Frederick Douglass, Reeves and Marion Barry,” he said. “Barry was the catalyst for the economic growth in the neighborhood. We want to bring Black Broadway back.”

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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