New Newseum? – Media museum may double in size

The Freedom Forum media foundation has offered the Washington, D.C. government $100 million for a prime downtown site for its headquarters and interactive media museum, the Washington Post reported July 11.

Freedom Forum officials told the Post the offer includes $75 million for the Pennsylvania Avenue property, and $25 million to build affordable housing. In return, the Forum would get the last developable site on the president’s inaugural parade route.

The foundation also said it would volunteer to pay property taxes on the site, estimated at just under $1 million a year, even though as a nonprofit it is technically exempt.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who appeared at the press conference announcing the offer, called it “extraordinary” but did not say whether the city was ready to accept. The mayor told the Post the city will review the offer and make a decision within the next 45 days.

The forum proposes to construct a $250 million development on the site, including more than 36, 300 square feet of retail on the street level, 290,650 square feet of offices for its headquarters and the Newseum, which would double in size from its current quarters in Rosslyn, Va. About 100 condominiums would top the building.

Admission to the Newseum would continue to be free.

The Freedom Forum is supported by income from a $1 billion endowment. The foundation was established in 1991 by former Gannett Co. chair Allen H. Neuharth as the successor to the Gannett Foundation.

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