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The Franklin School isn’t the easiest property to develop. The gorgeous 1869 building has a central location on 13th Street NW, but it has the potential to scare off developers in several ways. First, it’s crumbling. Second, both the exterior and parts of the interior have a historic designation, meaning that developers can’t significantly alter these elements. Third, many of the interior walls are load-bearing, so they can’t be easily torn down. And finally, the building only has somewhere between 33,000 and 38,000 square feet of usable space—-a fairly small area for such a big development project.
But four developers weren’t scared off. The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development just announced the respondents to the city’s April 10 request for qualifications to develop the property. They are:
- Abdo Development and CoStar Group
- Bundy Development Corporation, Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group and the National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs
- Douglas Development
- EastBanc, Inc., Institute for Contemporary Expression (ICE-DC) and the ThinkFoodGroup
The city is reviewing the responses, with a short(er) list to be announced soon. Short-listed teams will be invited to respond to a request for proposals this summer, and a developer will be selected in the fall, according to DMPED.
Nimita Shah, the DMPED project manager for the Franklin School, says that turning the property into a residential building would be difficult because of the structural limitations and the lack of parking, and that a hotel or nonprofit office building is more likely. (A more traditional office building could tougher, Shah says, because of the large, open spaces.) There were two attempts last decade to develop the property, but both fell through.