Years into discussions about the fate of Tenleytown Library, DC officials have announced that construction, or at least a ceremonial pretense, will at last begin this morning at 10:30am. After an embarrassingly nasty brawl over the fate of the postage stamp-sized parcel at Albemarle and Wisconsin, the fate of the library seems at long last decided. Sort of.
Following the long term loss of the library in 2005, everything has gone according to plan, excepting, that is, the lack of plan for a new library, the city's belated selection of a developer for the site, the public outcry over the city's selection thereof, the battle over the right to build housing above a Metro (gasp!), a subsequent war between the DC Council, locals, and DMPED over control of the project, DMPED's decision to lead its own charge and issue an RFP for the project on its own, DMPED's mysterious shift in qualifications for the site - after submission of bids - which it shared with only 2 of the 3 applicants, DMPED's decision and hire LCOR, Inc. as the developer in July of 2008, the community's rejection of LCOR's plans, DMPED's pronouncement of a "rare opportunity" to bring subsidized housing to the "underserved (retail-challenged) Wisconsin Avenue," the quiet dropping of LCOR from the project in March of 2009, the Mayor's decision to build the library and then figure out if apartments should go on top of it, and his final pledge that the building would - damn the torpedoes - be completed in 2010. Did we miss anything?
Water under the bridge though. Now work begins on the new library, and one thing is for sure, Forrester Construction will build it. Even if "it" is still undetermined. As of August, the city had not committed on a plan for the residences supposed to sit on top of the library, but rather had planned to build the library in the hopes that someone could somehow put a building on top of library shortly thereafter, consigning the project to permanent construction site status. Nor had the District selected an architect to design the library (now technically under construction), basing its plans instead on simple conceptual designs by the Freelon Group (see rendering at left) and R. McGhee & Associates.
And Janney parent groups, which opposed the plan as a taking of its green space, will now lose its field as a construction staging ground for up to two years. And then construction may start all over again. Wow, glad that's all settled.