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I guess there aren’t enough development stories to go around in this town! As I was reporting on the Central Union Mission’s latest attempt to relocate its homeless shelter, DCmud was working on its own piece.
To summarize: After Petworth/Columbia Heights residents balked at a plan to open a 150-175 bed shelter in their neighborhood, the Mission re-focused its attention on moving into the vacant Gales School, located near Capitol Hill. Then came a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union—I’ll let DCmud explain:
Originally, the plan was for a land swap in which the city would gain the Georgia Avenue property and the Mission would get use of the school as a shelter. But the exchange was derailed by an America Civil Liberties Union law suit claiming an Establishment Clause violation – i.e. separation of church and state – because the property swap would result in a net gain of $12 million for the Mission, which requires homeless men to participate in religious services in return for room, board and counseling services…
Well the latest, ahem, development with the Gales School is that the Mission is still pursuing it—and negotiating a different deal with the city, according to executive director David Treadwell.
“Our hope is still the Gales School,” says Treadwell. “We’re not out to seek special favor. But we’re going to do the city a big favor by running a shelter and not charging them for it.”
Treadwell says his organization is willing to spend $10 million to revamp the building, which is a mere shell now being propped up with heavy beams, and covered with a temporary roof.
The Mission is anxious to start fortifying the structure, as “the boards on the windows are warping” and the roof “was not designed to last through this winter.”
Treadwell says his organization would prefer owning the building outright, but “might do a long-term lease.”
“Gales School is our best option because of its location. There are other places we could go. But there’s no reason to stir up another neighborhood if we don’t have to…,” he adds, referring to the long drawn-out battle in Petworth.