NAACP Nears Deal to Move Headquarters to Nation's Capital

The NAACP is close to making a deal to move its headquarters from Baltimore to the nation's capital, District of Columbia officials and the civil rights group's president said Monday.

Terms of the agreement, which are still being negotiated, call for the city to contribute $3.5 million to help the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People acquire property along a historic stretch of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southeast Washington.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams and the group are focusing on a site as part of the Anacostia Gateway Project, a development that could bring more than 150 jobs to the area almost overnight to one of Washington's bleakest areas.

"There is no more appropriate place for the NAACP headquarters than Washington, D.C.," Williams said in a news release.

Bruce Gordon, the NAACP's president and CEO, confirmed negotiations are in their final stages.

"We're pretty close to 'yes,'" he said, adding that the nation's capital "is where we do our work. It's where the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization should be."

Richard McIntire, an NAACP spokesman in Baltimore, said Monday he had no information on the move and would not comment. Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, declined comment.

A new building is under construction at the proposed site and would be available in the fall of 2007, said Stan Jackson, the district's deputy mayor for economic development. He said a formal announcement could come this week, with the deal completed by the end of the year.

The City Council would have to approve funding for the NAACP deal, said Sharon Gang, a spokeswoman for the mayor. The council was expected to consider the proposal at its meeting Tuesday.

City officials have been negotiating with NAACP leaders and searching for a location for more than a year.

NAACP Chairman Julian Bond has said the organization wanted to move its headquarters to be closer to Congress, government agencies and the many news media outlets in Washington. He said the NAACP loved everything about Baltimore, except its location.