The administration of Mayor Muriel Bowser has pulled the plug on plans for a new museum at downtown’s historic Franklin School, opting instead to open the space to new proposals.
Last month, administration officials said that five projects that had been awarded under Mayor Vince Gray were under review and could be opened to new bids. Among them was the Institute for Contemporary Expression, the highly anticipated museum from art collector Dani Levinas. Administration officials expressed concern that the project was not meeting its fundraising goals, a notion that ICE representatives disputed.
Today, Bowser’s office issued a new request for qualifications for the long-vacant Franklin School, located on 13th Street NW. The administration is seeking “a suitable use that is compatible with the building’s historic character.” Prior to ICE’s selection, proposals for the space offered a wide range of uses: offices for software engineers, a boutique hotel, and a digital office and residential facility.
Responses to the RFQ are due by March 23, after which the city will invite selected respondents to submit more detailed proposals.
The space, which once served as a school and more recently as a homeless shelter, presents substantial challenges to would-be developers. The city estimates that rehabilitation costs will be between $20 million and $24 million, not including the build-out for a specific use. The building is also a historic landmark, meaning that any renovations will need to preserve the core elements.
This news was first reported by Michael Neibauer. The full text of the RFQ is below.
Rendering from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development