Humane Society of the U.S. sells HQ, clears way for new D.C. office tower

The Humane Society of the United States has sold its national headquarters to a three-headed team that will redevelop the West End site into a trophy-class office building and renovate an adjacent, historic D.C. school for educational use.

Akridge, partnering with Corporate Office Properties Trust and Argos, paid $11 million for the Humane Society building at 2100 L St. NW. The sale was recorded on Thursday.

“We will combine this parcel with the Stevens School project to deliver a striking, trophy-class, corner office building in the Central Business District,” Matt Klein, Akridge president, said in a statement.

The Humane Society will remain in the building for six months, at which point it will relocate to a yet undisclosed location, likely on the West End.

“The Humane Society sold the L Street building to take advantage of a unique opportunity stemming from its key position on the block and to put those funds to work to support the Society and its critical animal programs,” said Paul Graham, a senior vice president at Colliers International, the seller’s representative in the transaction.

The sale follows the December 2014 D.C. Council approval of a proposal— pitched by Akridge and Argos; COPT was a late addition — to renovate the historic Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School at 1050 21st St. NW, and use a D.C.-owned lot adjacent to Stevens, in addition to the Humane Society parcel, to construct a 10-story, 190,000-square-foot office building. The Ivymount school, which specializes in school- and community-based services for children and young adults with special needs, will be the lead tenant in the renovated Stevens.

The new office tower will include floor-to-ceiling glass, a landscaped roof terrace, a two-story lobby and 8,000 square feet of retail space. Work is expected to begin in 2016, with delivery in late 2018.

The Stevens School projects dates back to 2009, when then-Mayor Adrian Fenty chose Equity Residential Inc. to redevelop the Stevens lot into an apartment building and restaurant. Neighbors protested, and the Equity plan was nixed. Mayor Vincent Gray rebid the project in 2012, settling on Akridge and Argos over three competitors. Two and a half years passed before their proposal earned council support.

Thaddeus Stevens, from Pennsylvania, served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. He was a fierce opponent of slavery and helped draft the 14th Amendment that abolished it.

Renovating Stevens is expected to cost the development team $18 million. The project must include a statue commemorating Thaddeus Stevens, a wall celebrating the legacy of Thaddeus Stevens and the school, a rotating art gallery celebrating the work of African American artists, a $10,000 per year scholarship and $570,000 for an Ivymount operational fund.