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The District has selected a development team for the aged and underutilized Grimke School near U Street NW after a deal with the previously chosen team failed in December on account of financing.
Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s administration announced today that Community Three Development and architectural firm Torti Gallas and Partners will redevelop the 52,000-square-foot historic school located at 1923 Vermont Ave. NW as well as adjacent parcels along alley-like 9 1/2 Street NW.
Their plan calls for a mixed-use facility to be anchored by the African American Civil War Museum, which currently operates in an annex behind the school. It would also include a new headquarters for Silver Spring-based Torti Gallas (the firm’s H Street NE office would also relocate to Grimke); a new nonprofit arts center managed by CulturalDC to host classes, exhibitions, and other activities; new townhouses on 9 1/2 Street; and a new six-story, mixed-use building featuring at least 20 residential units to front U Street.
The announcement comes during the District’s annual “March Madness” event for developers interested in public-land deals. Headed by Brian Kenner, the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development is also rolling out a series of bidding opportunities for development teams.
The selection follows a stop-and-start history for Grimke, which was has been an eyesore along one of D.C.’s most vibrant corridors for years, frustrating neighbors. Under former Mayor Vincent Gray, the District awarded a development deal to Roadside Development and Sorg Architects. Then the Bowser administration reviewed it, ultimately re-awarding it to those companies in 2015, with the condition that the project was to include more affordable housing than initially planned.
But last year, the city’s arrangement with Roadside and Sorg fell apart following months of delay. That project would have also installed the civil war museum in a refurbished Grimke but would have served as “a home for the arts,” too, anchoring various nonprofits. (Roadside said the project had become unfeasible.)
Given the school’s current condition, the chosen development team has said the rehabilitation of Grimke, built in 1887, will involve major work. “Without adequate maintenance for almost a decade and the need for updated systems, windows, access, among others, it is anticipated that renovation hard costs will exceed $8.5 million to ultimately create a structure capable of housing the Museum and Torti Gallas and Partners,” a 2014 concept proposal by the development team explained.
The original renderings of Community Three Development and Torti Gallas’ project follow below.
This post has been updated to reflect the most current information provided by DMPED. A lease-revenue-sharing structure for the deal will no longer apply as initially stated.