Last year, during the game of musical chairs that had D.C. government agencies moving around to different buildings all over the city, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer decided to move some of its data center operations to the newly-purchased warehouse at 225 Virginia Avenue instead of the Unified Communications Center, as previously planned. As it happened, that made the move $979,000 cheaper.
Today, during the Council’s marathon final budget negotiations, Councilwoman Mary Cheh passed an amendment to move that money to a squeaky wheel in her own Ward 3: The Jesse Reno School at 4820 Howard Street NW, which was built in 1903 as a school for the Reno City community of escaped slaves in modern-day Tenleytown. Its most recent use was as a school for special needs children, but the eight-room, Renaissance-style building has lain vacant for many years.
This year, the Tenleytown Historical Society got it landmarked by the Historic Preservation Review Board, while the neighboring Alice Deal School looked for the funds to renovate it for use as a performing arts facility and school nursery. Cheh found the $4 to 5 million necessary during the last two budgets, according to her office, but “for one reason or another” the money fell through. In the mean time, the $979,000 will stabilize the building, which has suffered from vandalism and water damage, as well as pay for an architect to draw up the plans.