Franklin School Development Possibilities Announced

13th and K Street, NW

From a press release:

“Mayor Muriel Bowser and Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner announced today that the District received four responses to the Request for Proposals (RFP) for development of the former Franklin School in Ward 2. All four teams possess extensive commercial-development expertise in the District, which will ensure a competitive review process for selection of the site’s developer. Earlier this year, the Bowser Administration reissued the RFP process after canceling tentative plans by a developer to use the property as a contemporary art space.

“I am pleased with the submissions the District received for the restoration of the historic Franklin School,” said Mayor Bowser. “In reissuing the RFP, my goal was to facilitate a financially viable development that has the potential to create jobs and contribute to the District’s economy. With these submissions, we are one step closer to making that goal a reality.”​

The four respondents to the RFQ are as follows:

· Aria Development Group
· Dantes Partners
· Friedman Capital Advisors, LLC
· Thoron Capital, LLC

The RFP was issued by DMPED on August 21, 2015 following a Request for Qualifications to qualify respondents for their development experience and financial capacity to oversee the redevelopment. Responses to the RFP were limited to the teams qualified in the RFQ, and responses were received on October 16, 2015. Response teams vary in their experience and proposed uses, yet many – if not most – consist of an array of significant development, architectural design, construction management, and historic design firms.

The diverse range of proposed uses includes hospitality, office, higher education, arts and creative, as well as training and workforce development opportunities and job creation.

“We are excited to pursue quality development proposals that showcase the Franklin School’s unique construction and pays homage to its history,” said Deputy Mayor Kenner. “An investment in such a prominent landmark will further bolster the District of Columbia as a world-class city, support local business, and improve the lives of District residents.”

An interdisciplinary evaluation panel of District government staff will evaluate the RFP respondents and respondents will also work with the community as part of the evaluation process.

Named after Benjamin Franklin, the flagship school was part of the first comprehensive system of free universal public education in the District. For over 50 years, the Franklin School housed prominent public educational uses, from the city’s first normal school training future teachers, to the city’s first high school. During the twentieth century, the Franklin School transitioned from serving as a school to become the headquarters for the District’s Board of Education. The site is designated as a National Historic Landmark, a significant designation that ensures the preservation of major architectural features of both the exterior and interior of the building.”

13 Comment

  • id still like to see this site go to the arts
    last thing would be a hotel…

    • clevelanddave

      You mean some organization that will not be able to afford to keep it up, will underutilized the space, and provide a service that isn’t wanted or particularly needed? Yeah, down with that.

  • Ashy Oldlady

    First floor: small plates.
    Rest of building: 155 luxury condo units.


  • A contemporary arts center would’ve been nice. But I guess we need more highfalutin condos and such.

  • While I do not think the city needs more high-end apartments/condos and small plates restaurants, I WOULD like to see this particular site turned into a mix of housing/restaurants, just to help make the area more of a 7 day a week destination and not contribute to the dead-zone that it becomes on the weekend.

  • I understand the city is hungry for more revenue, but this beautiful building is part of DC history and should continue to provide benefit to the public as a cultural center.

    • clevelanddave

      Do we really need another cultural center? Oh, and how many million a year will that take off the tax rolls?

  • The rational thing to do would be to give it away for free to Hilton Corp. to develop this into a hotel worthy of their Waldorf Astoria collection and use the tax revenue to fight the externalities of gentrification. There is simply not enough high end hoteling in space downtown DC.

  • “world class city” = the kind of thing they say in Atlanta; means the Bowser administration as as little imagination as the business friendly hack who’s mayor of Atlanta. This area is something of a buffer zone–it’s not really residential, doesn’t support much commerce and is a little too far to benefit from the convention center or more intensively developed areas like Farragut Square. The redesign of Franklin Park will put most of the adult activity on the other side of the park and leave this side with children’s areas that will be used by day care programs much of the day. In other words, this isn’t an ideal site for much of anything. It’s a hike to shop which makes it less attractive for residential. It’s away from hotels and residential which makes it less than terrific for restaurants. An art center actually would create a destination but it would need daylong programming to accomplish this. It would be nice to see this join the tax duplicate, but I’m skeptical about many things succeeding. Housing may work economically, at least in the short run, but it will do nothing to enliven a dull spot.

  • I’m not sure how any of these proposals will preserve the interior as the designation requires. That was the whole point of the museum.

  • Interesting that CoStar dropped out.

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