Loyal readers of DCMud know that back in November the District government issued an RFP for the Tenley Library/Janney School at 4450 Wisconsin Ave, NW after a contentious battle with neighbors over development rights. Now the DC government has changed the scope of the RFP, post RFP, piling yet more controversy on the project.
The site will house a new library (rendering pictured), and Janney School needs a renovation and expansion pronto, so the RFP sought a builder that could quickly provide both. In exchange for their public contributions, the developer would be allowed to add another element to the library site, presumably housing, to make it worth their while. The Office of Planning and Economic Development received three bids by the January 4th deadline, with LCOR, Roadside Development, and the See Forever Foundation responding to the RFP. Now comes the wrinkle.
The Office of Planning, no doubt for reasons wholesome and honorable, changed the scope of the bid requirements on February 1st, dividing the site into two separate proposals, forbidding housing to be added to the library site on Wisconsin Avenue, and opening the possibility that housing be built on the same lot as the school. The amendment disqualified all submissions that do not meet the revised qualifications. According to the RFP addenda: "Any proposal that include (sic) a development program that integrates the Library within the larger redevelopment footprint will no longer be considered responsive."
DMPED notified two of the three certified developers of the change, requesting they re-submit their bids with solely the Janney school in scope. Although this does not take the residential aspect completely off the table, it does make things rather difficult, leaving bidders to work with only half of the site, with the possibility of condos on the same lot as the school. Sources claim that the new wording could allow for residential to be built above the library, such as cantilevering a residential structure to hang over the library, technically conforming to the new RFP.
Ross Little, Development Director at LCOR, told DCMud "It's clear that the Deputy Mayor's Office is trying to take full and proper analysis of the neighborhood's concerns." Charitable intentions and diplomacy notwithstanding, District officials are giving the initial developers two weeks to submit their reconfigured bids, a daunting task for a complex plan to hang 100 condo units from an offset core over a $16 million library. Speculators suppose that this change will in fact expedite the fruition of the new library, much sought by some members of the neighborhood, since that half of the project is fully funded by the city, which will cough up roughly $16 million to build it. The library site is being excavated now and construction is scheduled to finish in late 2009; all the books and pencil-sharpeners should be ready for a 2010 opening.
ANC 3E will be considering the issue at 7:30 PM on Valentines Day at St. Mary’s Church at 42nd and Fessenden Streets, NW. A community meeting will be held on February 28 at the Janney School for the invited respondents to present their plans to the public.