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Westmill awarded R. L. Christian library development

The concept for the R.L. Christian parcel

Washington-based real estate firm Westmill Capital announced it has won rights to develop the site of a closed community library in the bustling H Street corridor.

The company said in a press release that the former site of the R.L. Christian Library at 1300 H Street NE will be "the first government-owned land nationwide that would allow local residents to invest directly in real estate development."

Washington’s office for Planning and Economic Development had solicited proposals to revamp the location in the summer of 2012, and since had been reviewing six, one of which was submitted by Fundrise.

Although the project's details are not fully set -- since Fundrise's proposal will include community input -- Molly Fitzgerald, the company's communications director, says  Fundrise has "an outline of what it would be like – a market inside the building, the retail is bigger [than the other five proposals]."

The 10,800 square-foot parcel will likely include cultural facilities, retail and mixed-income housing. The city also asked, under the solicitation, that the project achieves LEED certifications, gives tribute to Robert Lee Christian, a D.C. elementary school teacher, and “adds sense of place.”  Westmill proposed to name the development R.L. Christian Arts Campus.

"We believe we won this development proposal in part because with Fundrise we were the only company that could allow D.C. residents the ability to invest with us in a city-owned property sale,” Ben Miller Fundrise co-founder, said in a statement.

The local real estate firm uses an online platform, Fundrise, to collect investments for developments from local members within a community, and gives them back financial returns if projects are profitable.

Westmill Capital opens on February 5 its newest venture, Rise Events, which rents the firm's vacant buildings for pop-up events.

Read more articles by Luis Velarde.

Luis Velarde writes about business, investments, real estate, and urban development. His work has appeared in the BBC World Service, Voice of America and others.
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