Thursday, July 10, 2008
Mayor Adrian Fenty announced this morning that the District will partner with LCOR for the development of the 3.6 acre Tenley Library/ Janney Elementary School site on Wisconsin Avenue.
The announcement, made nine months after the RFP's issuance, came as a surprise to those used to long-outstanding District RFPs; the decision surprised even the developer. "We didn't find out until 6:30 last night," said Timothy Smith, Senior Vice President of LCOR. "We were told to expect some word, but I had given up and gone home, so we were as surprised as everyone else...We are excited to be designated, we are awaiting paperwork from the District and will be working not only with the Office of Economic Development finalize plans, but also all of the stake holders in the neighborhood," Smith said.
This type of educational/residential mixed-use project is not new to the developer, who is responsible for the 47,000 s.f. James F. Oyster Elementary School and 211-unit Henry Adams House apartments in Woodley Park, in fact, Smith said LCOR prides itself in taking on such innovative, unique projects.
"I think our work on the Oyster School was one of the things that had to do with their decision to go with us. The current building is set back from Wisconsin Avenue and it will be a mixed-use project. One of the things we proposed was instead of a free standing structure, the library will be in the first two floors of the apartment building," Smith said.
Community involvement will be key to the development of this site, as it has been the subject of controversy between past developers and the community for years. But despite the site's conflict-ridden history, the developer said he just wants to get going.
"We are trying to make sure we work with the library to make sure their plan works within the building. We have done a lot of different kinds of developments, so this is right down our alley. We know that complex multiple use projects involve us working with community. Here we think we have the big picture, but we will still be working with the community," said Smith
LCOR's proposal included 174 rental apartment units and while specific details have not yet been announced, the development will likely achieve LEED certification and, in keeping with the Fenty Administration's affordable housing goals, offer workforce housing. Smith said more detailed information will be available in the coming weeks.
The District issued the RFP for the site last fall; three development teams responded and were evaluated based on "vision, financial capacity and past performance."
"We've got a real opportunity to leverage this site to help pay for the cost of improving Janney Elementary, enhance the existing open space and add both market-rate and workforce housing - all atop a Metro Station," Fenty said.
The projects puts to bed a contentious process that began with Roadside Development proposing to build what is now LCOR's mandate, a plan that was stymied when activists demanded an open bidding process. The District then mishandled the RFP, changing its terms after the response date passed, forbidding integration of the library within a residential building.
"Not many people know this, but LCOR has been in Washington for thirty-two years. We were really under the radar until we did the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Headquarters project," said Smith. Not anymore. LCOR recently completed the first residential building in the company's North Bethesda Town Center project, its 32-acre project at the White Flint Metro station.