The gutted building at 65 Massachusetts Ave, NW, provided a raw canvas for the Mission and Cox Graae + Spack Architects to create a space for the new shelter and homeless resource center. Plans also show a small rear addition to the building.
The Mission will rent the Gales School from the City for $1 per year, a deal reached after the Mission won an RFP for the project nearly 2 years ago that was subsequently contested. Renovations will cost the Mission about $12 million. The low rent and practically new building should leave more money in the Mission's account in the long run for provision of its services.
Deborah Chambers, director of communications and outreach for the Mission, said that while the group owned its current home at 14th and R streets Northwest, the maintenance and utilities costs on the old building are exorbitant. A part they recently needed for the out-dated elevator cost $7,000, she said.
The money saved on repairs can help support the additional 50 or 60 residents the Mission is expected to house at the Gales School. It also will provide the new services needed for a daytime shelter for residents. The 110 men who call the Mission home now must leave after breakfast, she said, but the new location will have recreation rooms, computer labs and classes accessible throughout the day.
"Being able to provide the men with conditions and surroundings and beds that will help lift their self-esteem is something we're greatly looking forward to," Chambers said. "We bandaged this place, we have things holding together with staples and tape, but surroundings help somebody feel like there is a possibility and there is a future. We hope to provide them with those kinds of amenities."
Renovations should be completed next April. But the Mission must be out of its Logan Circle building in February pursuant to a contract to purchase inked several years ago but not yet executed.
Chambers said there could be a 30-day gap in service between leaving their current location and opening at the Gales School, and that some residents will go to the group's camp in Brookeville, Md., while the rest will rely on local homeless shelters and service providers.
The Mission has tried to move for several years. A previous deal for the Gales School fell through when the ACLU sued, claiming the award of the RFP by the city to the Christian-backed Mission violated the Constitution's Establishment Clause. Community protests then prevented a move to Georgia Avenue and Newton Street, leading the Mission to pursue a mixed-use development at the site instead.
With the Gales School finally secured, plans to redevelop the Mission's Logan Circle property can move forward, too.
Developer Jeffrey Schonberger (Alturas LLC) has been planning to renovate and expand properties at 1625 - 1631 14th Ave., NW since 2006, pending relocation of the homeless shelter. The new retail and residential project is scheduled to break ground in less than a year.
Washington, D.C., real estate development news