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Today is the last day to submit proposals to redevelop 11 vacated schools throughout the city.
These structures run the gammit. Grimke Elementary School seems like a loft-builder’s dream struture (old-fashioned looking and right by U Street). On the other hand, you got Backus Middle school, a rather humdrum, mid-century building in Riggs Park, that even a former PTA president described as just “another troubled D.C. school.”
Yeah, it’s got that look. (See above.)
Since this development initiative was announced, education groups have fought it, saying that school buildings should stay entirely public property. Personally, I’ve written that DCPS already has plenty of buildings all over…Why not open up the empty ones to a wide variety of uses? (I counted seven schools in a general four by ten block area in Columbia Heights/Shaw.)
Naturally, today’s deadline has incurred someone’s rage. I thought perhaps it would be charter advocacy group FOCUS, but it seems Empower D.C. is leading the pack.
Earlier today, they apparently headed over to the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. He’s out of town. This morning’s Washington Business Journal has the scoop:
Leaders of a D.C. advocacy group, Empower D.C., say they plan to protest Albert’s office on the third floor of the Wilson building at 12:10 p.m. today to object to the potential sale of the properties. The protesters will don badges reading: “Public property police.” They are accusing Albert of violating legal requirements regarding surplus property when he began seeking development proposals for the closed schools Dec. 23, 2008.
Albert, however, won’t be there. He and his family are on vacation spring break from school, according to his spokesman, Sean Madigan.
That will not deter the protesters. “We will still be there,” said Parisa Norouzi, the organization’s executive director.