"As I am sure you are aware, the original rationale for this project is two-fold. First, it is part of a District-wide effort to capitalize on transit-oriented development. The site offers the District the rare opportunity to leverage a parcel across the street from a Metrorail station, bringing additional residents and workforce housing units to an underserved Wisconsin Avenue corridor,” states Albert in a letter dated January 12th. “Second, the money the District will receive in the form of a prepaid ground lease will be used to move the Janney School modernization up in the queue from Fiscal Year 2014…to Fiscal years 2009, 2010, and 2011.”As a recap of the battle, the struggle involves the Deputy Mayor, who is interested in developing the metro-centered site and chose LCOR as project developer, DCPL (the public library), which wants to replace the library closed down three years ago, Janney parent groups, which don't want to cede an inch of existing outdoor space to an apartment building, DC Public Schools (DCPS), which will have to renovate the school system if a developer does not pony up, and a determined group of locals that have filibustered every large development in the area, and successfully thwarted the first developer for the site.
Albert supports the residential tower atop the new library, reasoning that “a stand-alone library would eliminate any potential cost savings for the library, would make any future development on the site cost prohibitive and would require much more of…Janney Elementary[‘s] green space.” The latter is a reference to objections by the Janney School Improvement Team (SIT), which withdrew their support - along with Cheh and Brown – for the cession of existing green space to the development. But Albert counters that LCOR’s revised plans now result in “a net gain of 300 square feet of green space at the school” through conversion of pavement to turf. Though such plans have yet to be released publicly, the Deputy Mayor states that a “fully formed proposal” will be unveiled on February 10th.
As previously noted, DCPS have had little say in the direction of the project, while DC Public Libraries (DCPL) have been privy to the bulk of the negotiations between ODMPED and LCOR . “Preliminary estimates show that [DCPL] will save approximately half of its construction budget under this mixed-use scenario for their new 20,000 square foot library. This amounts to approximately $5 million in cost savings,” says Albert - though when initally estimated by ODMPED, the library sported a projected cost of $16 million. This most certainly is not the last word on the project.