The development of the West End library is a storied project.
Back in 2007, the library’s land was almost sold off to developer Eastbanc as part of emergency legislation. When the company’s president earnestly discussed his plans with neighborhood folks, they responded with “derisive laughter,” as we reported back then.
“My colleagues will probably throw tomatoes at me for getting them into this,” Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans also said at the time.
Needless to say, the proposal, which included condos and retail, went nowhere.
Then last fall, some aforementioned neighborhood folks released a report explaining their vision for a new West End library. The main suggestion: Get rid of some of the homeless people.
There is a strong sense in the community, reflected in survey answers and appended written comments, that the homeless population’s use of the library is a deterrent to greater use by other patrons.…Those who do use the library are older, wealthier, better educated, and less racially diverse than the general population of the District.
And yes, there were specific design tips offered to produce this change.
Not exactly sympathy-inducing.
So now, here’s the latest. This morning, Mayor Adrian Fenty announced a request for proposals (RFP) seeking a development team to plan a new project on the West End Neighborhood Library and West End Fire Station’s land:
The District, through the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, seeks the redevelopment of the two-story library at 24th and L Streets, NW and the fire station for Engine Co. 1 at 23rd and M Streets, NW. Currently in use, both properties are over 40 years old and in need of significant modernization. In addition, the District aims for the redevelopment of the property at 23rd and L Streets, NW where the MPD Special Operations Division is currently located.
The Deputy Mayor’s Office expects to begin reviewing the proposals submitted by developers this fall. An acceptable development program will allow for continuous library and fire and emergency medical services during the entire redevelopment period.
According to a story in the Washington Business Journal, the city’s open “to multiple uses for the property so long as the bidders have the financial wherewithal to follow through.”