City Paper Widget

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

CORRECTED: Recommendations for Grimke School Development from ANC1B

CORRECTION: Grimke Development Working Group calls for any daytime use, specifically including office use, not only retail use as previously reported.

Jeffrey Willis emails: "Goals call for any daytime use, specifically including OFFICE.  We already have two developers interested in this market, which remains strong, according to our research."

Apologies for the error.

The Design Review Committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street voted April 21 in favor of a set of community recommendations for the redevelopment of the Grimke School (1923 Vermont Avenue NW) and an adjoining property (912 U Street).

Three main points

If the full ANC approves the committee's recommendation, the full ANC will ask for three points from the proposal of the Grimke Redevelopment Working Group be included into D.C.'s future Request for Proposal (RFP) on the site. The recommendations are

The Grimke School (photo credit below)
  • to limit the development of the Grimke School and associated buildings to the current "envelope"
  • to mandate development on the property be mixed use.
  • to develop daytime retail uses on the property
In addition, the committee voted to recommend that the entire working group document be attached to D.C.'s future RFP.

How the RFP will work

Reyna Alorro, Project Manager at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), appeared at the meeting to brief on the state of project and to solicit community comment. She said the city will be sending out one RFP solicitation for the development of the two sites. DMPED will then make a short list of acceptable proposals and make them public. There will be a 30-day written comment period on the proposals. There will also be a community meeting. At the meeting, developers will present their proposals and members of the public will be able to question the developers. Members of the public will also be allowed to give their opinions, written and verbal, at the meeting. DMPED will select one proposal by the end of 2014.

The main school building is considered historic. It will be a requirement of the RFP that this building be renovated.

The neighboring building is former gym of the Grimke School. It is not a historic building, and is now home to the African-American Civil War Museum. The museum will continue to be located at the Grimke site. A significant part in the renovated buildings will be set aside for re-occupation by the museum. One member of the committee called the promise of a renovated home to the museum a de facto subsidy which had been granted without proper oversight.

The working group presents

Jeffrey Willis presented to the committee for the ad hoc Grimke Redevelopment Working Group.

"We had a lot of participants," he said. "We are asking you to embrace this statement of community goals. I hope you'll push your authority."

Willis advocated that the working group's proposals should be incorporated into the RFP, and articulated the three points that formed the basis of the Design Review committee's recommendations above.

During the discussion of the working group's document, it was made clear that "the envelope" did not only refer to the footprint of the current buildings on the ground, but also to the height of the buildings, which are shorter than what might be otherwise allowed according to zoning regulations.

Members of the community came out to voice their support for the working group's conclusions. During the meeting, it was asked how many members of the audience came to express their support of the working group document. Ten people raised their hands.

The motion to make the recommendations passed by a vote of 7-1.

ANC1B will probably vote on this recommendation at its next regular monthly meeting, scheduled for Thursday, May 1, at 7pm, at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets).

The development of an RFP for the Grimke School was the subject of a March 17 report from the blog District Source.

(Photo credit: AgnosticPreachersKid/Wikipedia)


  1. Chris in EckingtonApril 24, 2014 at 5:42 PM

    All of those restrictions will make it difficult to make this a profitable project and will severly limit the interest by developers.

    1. agreed. this is not a desirable location for office or retail. Office might work for some small non-profit tenants but its a small niche. And retailers don't want to be isolated off of a prime corridor....unless you are aiming for an accessory retailer like a dry cleaner. bottom line...this is prime residential space....don't fight it. Let DC get the most value from its property.