The Wash
The Freedom Forum has signed a lease agreement with Hoffman and Developers at its newest property at 610 Water St. SW, joining The Atlantic. (Photo Courtesy of Hoffman & Associates)

Freedom Forum joins The Atlantic as tenants in Morris Adjmi’s newest property on Water Street

The Freedom Forum’s announcement comes a year after the high-profile sale of its landmark Pennsylvania Avenue property, The Newseum, to Johns Hopkins in the face of financial troubles.

The Freedom Forum will join The Atlantic in Navy Yard at the newest property from Manhattan architect firm Morris Adjmi.

The non-profit organization signed a lease agreement with Hoffman and Developers for 25,000 square feet on the third floor of the building located at 610 Water St. SW after a temporary stay at America’s Square.

“We are excited that 610 Water Street and the vibrant Wharf community will be the future home of the Freedom Forum,” Jan Neuharth, The Freedom Forum’s CEO and the chair said in a statement.

“The dynamic combination of flexible work and community spaces offer a variety of opportunities, both virtual and in-person, to further our First Amendment mission,” Jan Neuharth said.

The 610 Water Street property was designed by New York City-based architect firm Morris Adjmi as part of The Wharf’s Phase 2 development.

The building itself was designed to look like a jewel box and contains a 10,000-square-foot outdoor terrace.

While the building has yet to be completed, the Freedom Forum’s snagged lease marks the final available lease.

A new home for the organization 

The non-profit’s lease comes almost two years after its high-profile sale of the Newseum in 2019 to Johns Hopkins University for more than $300 million.

The Newseum was the organization’s home from 2008 to 2019 until it sold it to the university after years of financial issues.

Jonathan Thompson, the organization’s chief outreach officer, said the relocation to the Wharf will provide it with access to flexible office spaces with educational and conference center areas that will help further its mission.

“The new offices at 610 Water Street will also offer public gathering spaces and digital capabilities that can foster dynamic in-person conversations while continuing to offer the accessible reach and inclusivity of virtual events,” Thompson said.

The Freedom Forum’s new office at 610 Water Street will look out onto the Wharf’s marina, which is undergoing renovations as well to include 223 boat slips. (Aneeta Mathur-Ashton / The Wash)

Thompson said the spaces will be outfitted with the latest in digital media production technology, including video and audio studios.

Despite the organization having to shut down and sell its former home, Thompson said comparing the costs of owning a building and leasing an office is tricky.

“The costs to operate the property on Pennsylvania Avenue became unsustainable, but overall the new space will be considerably less expensive,” Thompson said.

He said the Wharf is an incredible development and expects the organization to take advantage of it post-COVID to host in-person events and programs that foster First Amendment freedoms.

The first event the organization has planned is its annual Free Expression Awards, which will take place spring 2022 at The Anthem.

Not the only new tenant 

It was announced in December of last year that The Atlantic’s tenure at The Watergate would be coming to an end after signing a lease agreement to occupy about 35,000 square feet on the top two floors of the Water street property.

Anna Bross, senior vice president of communications for The Atlantic, said the media company settled on the Water Street property due to its location, amenities and cost.

“610 Water offers an updated space in an excellent location, and we hope that the space is a draw for our staff and that it enhances the way that we work,” Bross said.

She said the new location will consist of two interconnected floors at the top of the five-story office building, with access to a large terrace off the top floor, with stunning views of the Potomac River.

“The building offers improved amenities for our employees, as well as increased accessibility options and has allowed us to anticipate some growth within the building,” Bross said.

Bross said the company hopes the new location will provide a long-term home for it, adding it is unclear when operations will officially begin at the location.

Aneeta Mathur-Ashton

My name is Aneeta Mathur-Ashton, a D.C.-based journalist pursuing a master's in international journalism from American University’s School of Communication. My reporting background is in domestic and foreign politics, with an emphasis on foreign policy.

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