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D.C. Hires Contractor To Convert Convention Center To Healthcare Facility

The Walter E. Washington Convention Center at 801 Mount Vernon Place NW

The main convention center in the nation's capital will soon undergo a construction project to turn it into a healthcare facility to treat coronavirus patients.

Mayor Muriel Bowser's administration Monday announced it issued a design-build contract to Hensel Phelps Construction Co. to convert the Walter E. Washington Convention Center's three halls into a facility to treat patients who do not require intensive care.

The Bowser administration coordinated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in issuing the contract. The Army Corps conducted site inspections in late March and found the convention center met the necessary medical requirements and offered advantages including ambulance access, utility supply and its central location. 

The convention center at the intersection of Seventh Street NW and Mount Vernon Place opened in 2003. The three main halls total 473K SF and will fit 1,500 beds.

The facility is scheduled to open in phases, with 500 beds available by the first week of May and another 1,000 beds completed by the end of the month. The District had recorded 2,927 positive cases of COVID-19 and 105 deaths as of Monday. 

“Our goal, leveraging our contractor's expertise, is to get this site operational as quickly as possible while meeting medical standards, so equipment and beds can be placed and healthcare providers can take over, should the need arise,” said Col. John Litz, Baltimore District Commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  

Colorado-based Hensel Phelps was the seventh-largest general contractor in the D.C. region based on 2018 Metro-area revenue, according to the Washington Business Journal. It has worked on public projects in the region including the Silver Line and the Purple Line.