Hotel Conference Center Planned for St. Elizabeths East Campus

In the 19th century when farmers from Southern Maryland drove their product carts to markets in downtown Washington, through what is today Ward 8, they had the option to stay at the Robert Martin’s Farmers & Drovers Hotel on lower Nichols Avenue, today Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. If all goes according to plan, as part of the first phase of development of the Saint Elizabeths East Campus, a hotel will once again be open for business east of the river. 

In Mayor Vince Gray’s last week in office he announced the selection of Redbrick, a DC-based real investment management and development firm, as the master developer for the Saint Elizabeths East campus. To complement the Gateway Pavilion and R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center at the Chapel, which have opened in the past two years, Redbrick’s plans for a build-out of hundreds of thousands of commercial, retail and residential space could take a decade. 

“Redbrick has proposed to construct the hotel as one of the first buildings to come on-line between 2015 and 2019,” says Joaquin McPeek, Communications Director for the Deputy Mayor’s Office of Planning and Economic Development. “A more precise timeline is dependent on specific infrastructure improvements being in place.” 

The District secured $113.5 million in capital budget dollars for St. Elizabeths East through 2016. The majority of these funds are for designing and building the public infrastructure improvements needed to support all planned future development at St. Elizabeths East, including roadways, water, gas, electric, telecommunications, streetscapes and street lighting, in addition to demolition of certain non-contributing structures at the campus. Once the infrastructure is complete, the hotel conference center is expected to serve multiple purposes and provide a catalytic start for further development of the East Campus.

Although no partnership with a hotel chain has been announced, Redbrick indicates a number of hotel brands are under consideration. Preliminary projections for the hotel, which will front Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue from the chapel's gate entrance to just before LeBaum Street, are 150-200 rooms with an on-site restaurant, meeting rooms, fitness center, and business center. At the moment, financing for the hotel is expected to be completely private. 

According to McPeek, “The District is working with Redbrick to identify both temporary (construction) and permanent job opportunities associated with the hotel. We will have a better sense of impact once the size and scope of the hotel is identified and confirmed.” Redbrick estimates the hotel will create between 125-200 construction jobs and 85-125 employment opportunities once it is open and fully mature as a hospitality destination. 

“The hotel conference center is a transformative amenity for Ward 8 residents and business owners alike,” says Vance Gragg, part of Redbrick’s development team. ​”It will be a bridge between the community, Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard contractors, and other visitors.”

At a recent community meeting Gragg shared that contractors in-town to do business with the Coast Guard often stay at hotels in North Virginia due to the high costs of hotels in downtown Washington. A hotel on the East Campus would ideally draw significant occupancies from both the Coast Guard and the planned relocation of the Department of Homeland Security on the West Campus. 

At the moment Redbrick LMD / Gragg Cardona Partners are constructing a website for the hotel conference center. For more information visit or

Upcoming Events on the East Campus 

On Tuesday, March 12th from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., the Department of General Services will hold a Speed Networking event at the R.I.S.E Demonstration Center to connect with more than a dozen general contractors and project managers with subcontracting opportunities. RSVP at

Free Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel Classes have begun and will be held through May 15th. To register contact the PR Harris Training Site at 202-274-6999 or email

Whole Foods will return to the Pavilion in May, with a kick-off during the annual Congress Heights Day Parade. The city is working to bring Broccoli City’s Earth Day Festival and other arts and cultural events and programming to the Pavilion for the upcoming spring and summer. For more information visit

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