Next Up in Huge U Street Transformations – Old Grimke School

1923 Vermont Avenue, NW (just south of U Street)

From a press release:

“Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor L. Hoskins announced that the District of Columbia, through the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the redevelopment of the historic Grimke School at 1923 Vermont Avenue NW, and an adjacent District-owned parcel at 912 U Street NW.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to revitalize a property with historic significance in the U Street Corridor and to integrate both sites into the surrounding Uptown Arts District,” said Deputy Mayor Hoskins. “We are confident it will draw serious interests from developers, and we look forward to an expeditious solicitation process.”

The RFP is for two parcels located in the Mid-City U Street/Uptown neighborhood, also known as the U Street Corridor, at Vermont Avenue and U Street NW in Ward 1 near major thoroughfares, multiple bus stops and a Metro Station. The property located at 1923 Vermont Street consists of the approximately 52,000 square foot historic Grimke School building and approximately 14,850 square feet of lot area that currently houses the African American Civil War Museum and provides accessory off-street parking.

912 U Street, NW (just east of Vermont Ave)

The property at 912 U Street is approximately 5,900 square feet and is currently a parking lot. The District seeks development plans that include, but are not limited to, a mix of uses that are compatible with and leverage surrounding neighborhood development; are responsive to community and stakeholder preferences; and reflect the project’s proximity to the U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo Metro Station as well as other transportation infrastructure.

A pre-response information session and site visit is scheduled to be held Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Responses are due by Tuesday, July 29, 2014. After responses are received, a review process will ensue to short-list the respondents as qualified to move forward in the District’s solicitation process for the site or a “best and final” proposal may be requested before a final selection is made. Following this, a developer is slated to be selected by winter of 2014.

For more information and a copy of the RFP, please visit the DMPED website here.”

24 Comment

  • It would be nice to see historical preservation interests melded with maximum density and best design practices to provide the foundation for positive, grand impact for our neighborhood. Perhaps a six or seven story glass superstructure – keeping in mind the variety of contiguous structures, of course — which might maximize daytime office space to support the local restaurant scene during the day!

  • I really really hope that the city stipulates some sort of affordable artist space here (maybe studios above ground and some practice space in the basement?). I’m all for increasing the housing supply, but I don’t want U st turning into nothing but pricy condos + bars.

    • They will do whatever is best for the tax base (so bars, restaurants, and expensive housing)

    • I don’t want more bars and condos, but affordable artist space?! That’s something that doesn’t need to be in the densest part of the city. It’s not about the tax base, it’s about maximum use, people use bars and condos a lot more regarding condos and a lot more efficiently regarding bars. A studio that serves 8 people per day vs a bar that serves 800…come on

  • Is this one of the locations that Whole Foods is looking at?

  • oooh let me guess – condos?

  • I can’t help but see a correlation between Grimke and the Old Jewish Home. We need to be good custodian of these historic buildings and ensure they give something back to the community. Not turn them into another solely low income housing project. Let’s use the mixed-use model that better helps those in need while also helping the community as a whole.

    • … I thought of the same thing, but my hunch is that the Old Jewish Home gets turned into a housing project, while U Street gets another condo building… why not either do both as mixed income, or give U street the low income housing and Columbia Heights the developer…

      • Very good question. I’m sure U Street folks wouldn’t want this to be a housing project either!

    • 1) People really need to stop using the term “housing project” to describe any building with one low income unit.
      2) When was the last time DC built a “solely low income housing project” anywhere?

  • So the African American Civil War Museum is going away? They’re going to have to change the name of the Metro stop…

  • How about some office space / business space for daytime traffic.

  • So is this space exempted from the rule that charter schools have the right of first refusal to develop surplus DC school buildings?

    From DGS:
    The District’s Department of General Services (DGS) maintains a list of vacant and underutilized properties some of which were transferred from the D.C. Public Schools System (DCPS). DGS conducts an assessment to determine whether the properties have a government need or may be made available to the public through an Request for Offers (RFO) process. Please note that pursuant to the Landrieu Act, charter schools have the right of first refusal for vacant public school properties.

    • Yes, it is exempt. Originally the AG’s office said it had to go through the charter RFO process, but Graham appealed and the AG reversed their decision. Apparently there was already an RFO in 2011, and that meets the requirement.

  • If they redevelop this place, where will they train people to be grimkes? A good grimke is going to get harder and harder to find in DC.

  • I’ll support anyone with a good design that preserves the facade *and* who agrees to reserve space for the African American Civil War Museum currently housed in the site. I think that museum is a nice cultural addition to the neighborhood and a good complement to the statue for Af-Am Civil War vets by the Metro.

  • I would really like to see offices/commercial on these spaces. If we want the corridor to be diversified and thriving (and not just bars) we need more daytime foot traffic.

    • Yes, PLEASE. The more non-residential we can put anywhere off of the main corridors, the more alive this city will be.

  • Second on the artist space

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