Update on Demolition of Old Bruce Monroe School on Georgia Ave

by Prince Of Petworth February 17, 2010 at 12:30 pm 15 Comments


You can see some photos of the school here. Darren Jones sent a great update on the Columbia Heights Listserv:

Councilman Jim Graham held a meeting about the Bruce Monroe School property on Tuesday, February 16, 2010. The meeting was well attended. Here is some of what we heard from the people from the Deputy Mayor’s Office.
Why hasn’t the school been torn down?
-Demolition was delayed because of asbestos problems.
-The Request for Proposal to build a new school closed on November 16, 2009 with no respondents.
What happens next?
-Demolition of the school should start within the next couple of weeks.
-Demolition will be complete by April 30, 2010.
-The site will be leveled and a new school may not be built for 3-5 years.
-Short-term uses for the property were discussed.
-A basketball court and a tennis court may be built of the front of the property (Georgia Avenue side).
-A parking lot may be built on the Irving Street side of the property. The parking lot will be used by industrial organizations (hospitals, etc.).
What was the community’s reaction?
-The community seemed to like the idea of a temporary tennis court and basketball court. -The community would also like to see a staffed, temporary structure on the property to provide supervision to kids using the site.
-The community was not in favor of a parking lot because of the congestion it would cause on Irving Street, the pollution and hassle it would create in the neighborhood.
When is the next meeting?
-The next meeting is on Monday, March 8. It will start at 7:00 PM. The meeting place will be announced soon and will be held at a location on/or near Georgia Avenue. It will be hosted by Councilman Graham and the Georgia Avenue Community Development Taskforce. Everyone is welcome to participate to try to finalize the short-term plans for the property and to give your ideas and voice your opinions. The Councilman and Deputy Mayor’s Office would also like to hear what you would like to see in a new Bruce Monroe Elementary School.

Darren Jones, President
Pleasant Plains Civic Association

  • ShermanAveGuy

    If we can do without a school for 3-5 years and if enrollment in high schools in DC is decreasing anyway, couldn’t you argue that we don’t really need a high school there? Why not build a large apartment building instead? Having a large number of people there who will spend their dollars at businesses on Georgia Ave would be a great thing for the neighborhood.

    • Dave: I agree completely.

    • Ward One Resident

      Bruce Monroe was an elementary school, not high school.

    • Strangely enough, I have a buddy who works for a big property developper in DC. He told me that his firm, and a bunch of others, considered bidding on the lot from the city but apparently the neighborhood just didn’t make the investment worthwhile.

  • Ragged Dog

    I’d like to see an indoor athletic center with a turf field that isn’t tied up by kids activities 24-7.

    • Anonymous

      Then maybe you should renovate your basement, Gary!

  • Is there DPS data supporting the need for a new school at this location? As noted above, if we can do without a school in this area for 3-5 years, we probably don’t need one there. I suspect this plan is a product of lingering bad blood over the recent round of school closures. There are many people who suspect that the closures were motivated by a plan to sell off school properties to developers and who would love to be proven correct. So while the best use of this property would be for some retail and/or residential development, it ends up sitting empty for 5 years until a shiny new school that is not needed gets built.

    And putting aside the question of whether we need another school, I am a bit surprised that there were no responses for the RFP to build a new school. If the City is footing the bill, why didn’t anyone bid? It’s not like construction companies in this area could not use more business in this economy. I’d love to know what conditions the City imposed that caused such a lack of interest in this project.

  • Bruce Monroe

    I’m kind of sad that they’re tearing it down.



  • Rock Creek

    I understand that it makes no sense to leave an abandoned school building standing, but it’s frustrating that for the foreseeable future this will be nothing more than another vacant lot on Georgia ave, not bringing any businesses, residents or resident services to the area (granted, a basketball court would serve a small sliver of the local population).

  • “…his firm, and a bunch of others, considered bidding on the lot from the city but apparently the neighborhood just didn’t make the investment worthwhile”

    Does this translate to the DC government not practically giving away the property to potential developer. There is development going on in less ‘desirable’ areas than GA Avenue. DC should wait to develop when the economy is better and DC can negotiate / partner with a developer from a better position.

    I have a question re: temporary use. Aren’t there basketball and tennis courts 4 or 5 blocks away at Banneker. What about paving and using for flea-market get weekend foot traffic on GA avenue let more people get familiar with the area.

  • Andy on Sherman

    Hi All,

    I’m pretty mad that the City is looking to put a huge parking lot on the site. I think this is a once in a Century chance to have a very large piece of public land become available and turned into a true community asset. It could be made into a gorgeous park, super large community garden, library, velodrome, outdoor ampatheater(spelling?) – the possiblities are endless! Of course this will cost money, and it’s not the best time to spend, but this public land should be used for public benefit and not a parking lot…

    The idea of giving it to a private parking company for commuters from Maryland that work at Howard or the Washington hospital center or Children’s hospital is shameful! his land was used for the benefit of the community – now it will be used to benefit mainly out of state satff? We also know that once the 5 years is up, they will cry bloody murder to keep their newly acquired parking

    Let’s organize against this!

  • skellie

    Is anyone concerned about the type of crime that this empty lot would bring? I really dont think we need a parking lot. why would they park there? To buy drugs? to go to one of the houses on irving or columbia? There aren’t any large businesses here. Why not turn it into a decent business that isnt related to fried food or hair.

  • Please visit http://www.stopthelot.com to learn more about the parking lot proposal and alternatives, and to register your opposition to this project.

  • just34ice

    More tennis courts! The courts down the street at Bannecker are always full. The demand exists. Increase supply!

  • JH/DC

    I graduated from Monroe Elementary School. What a shame to tear down a city landmark (Bruce/Monroe). Do we really need another athletic facility? The neighborhood used to have a Safeway (early 50’s). The nearest thing to a grocery store is a Safeway at Georgia Avenue and Quincy Street, NW. Have residents of the area given thought to some type of grocery facility? One where you can walk and not have to drive? Anything would be better (Borders Books, Whole Foods, etc.) than a parking lot (which would certainly draw crime) or a tennis court(haven for teens/drug activity at night).


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