The National 4-H Council has completed the sale of its facility in suburban Washington, ending an era of one of the largest youth enrichment facilities in the nation.
The National 4-H Conference Center has been sold to Atlanta-based Galerie Living, an upscale senior living developer that plans to expand its operations to the nation's capital region.
“This site represented an incomparable opportunity to bring our signature commitment to excellence and innovation to the D.C. region,” said Tim Gary, founder and CEO of Galerie Living. “With respect for the heritage of this unique site and its community, this new Corso community will be meticulously and carefully designed — from concept through construction and management — in close collaboration with the surrounding community and the Town of Chevy Chase.”
According to Galerie, the property was initially valued at $20 million and was sold as-is. Site development plans “are in the earliest phases,” but Gary said the company believes its “dedication to creating unexpected happiness for seniors, families, and communities respects a proud 4-H legacy of head, heart, hands and health.”
The facility, located on 12.2 acres in Chevy Chase, Maryland, less than 10 miles from the U.S. Capitol, was listed for sale in March. At the time, National 4-H Council President and CEO Jennifer Sirangelo said the move was a “COVID-driven decision” and pointed to the loss of revenue due to the lack of student traffic through the facility during the pandemic.
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Sirangelo told extension leaders Monday that the sale, following payment of loan, transaction and moving costs, is expected to net the organization about $25 million. That money will be used by the National 4-H Council's Board of Trustees to set up an endowment fund. Sirangelo said the fund “will enable Council to continue our support of Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program by convening the 4-H system, telling the 4-H story and building public-private partnerships.
“We look forward to remaining a strong partner to Cooperative Extension and (the Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture) — in our shared efforts to create opportunity for all young people in America,” she added.
In addition to the endowment fund, 4-H plans to donate 55 pieces of artwork as well as more than 80 boxes of books, photographs and other assorted memorabilia from the facility to the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Maryland. All state memorabilia has been “returned home,” Sirangelo said.
The conference center facility was originally built in 1893 and has been a hotel, a college for women and was an operations research office for the Department of Defense during the Korean War. President Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in the opening ceremonies for the center in 1959.
The facility hosted a steady stream of the nation’s youth for housing and conferences until it was shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization plans to use the Hyatt Regency Bethesda for its Washington-based youth events in 2022.
The organization currently has about six million members through urban and rural local affiliate chapters. National 4-H employees expect to relocate to a Washington, D.C. metro area office in the fall of 2022.
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