Since this is a housing and development blog, I would be remiss to not mention the biggest bit of development news that broke while I was gone last week.
On Dec. 22, Mayor Adrian Fenty announced that he would like to redevelop 11 closed-school sites. Among them: Backus Middle School, Grimke Elementary School, Hine Junior High School, Langston School, M.M. Washington High School, Randle Highlands Elementary School (historic 1911 school building only), Rudolph Elementary School, Slater School, Slowe Elementary School (unoccupied portion), Stevens Elementary School, and Young Elementary School.
A couple things struck me about this list.
- Michelle Rhee shut down 23 schools at the end of last year. This move upset people—-but Rhee’s got workin’ her broom, and she’s making “sweeping” reform, and no one can stop her. So yeah: those schools are now no longer. But some of the schools on Fenty’s list closed down long before last summer. I visited many of the shuttered institutions in June for an article on school artifacts, school culture, nostalgia—-the works. Grimke doesn’t ring a bell. Niether do some others. I put all the names that did in bold (up above).
- Here’s one surprise on the list: Stevens Elementary School, located at 21st and L Streets, the alma mater of first daughter Amy Carter and Washington Post columnist Colby King, and a school with a rich history. Up until last year, it was the oldest operating D.C. public school (built in 1868). And it first opened as a school for freed slaves’ children. A lot of people fussed about preserving the structure and highlighting its past. I figured it would be handled with kid gloves (perhaps used as a community gathering center for meetings and cultural events), and not thrust out to developers so soon. But alas, it appears I know little.
- Um, yeah, there are some prime locations here: Stevens Elementary School is in the heart of the West End. Hine Junior High School is on Capitol Hill right by the Eastern Market Metro Station. Grimke Elementary School—-which I have surely walked by countless times and still didn’t seem familiar—-is close to the intersection of Vermont Avenue and U Street. Bring on the fancy, high ceiling condos (errr “lofts”)!