Wednesday, October 07, 2009

DC Ponders Resuscitating Franklin School

The Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to redevelop the historic, Adolf Cluss-designed Franklin School. According to the RFP, the District seeks to enter into either a land disposition agreement or lease with a qualified developer, though there is a "strong preference" to enter into a "long-term ground lease." The three story building is centrally located off of Franklin Square on the southeastern corner of 13th and K Streets NW.

Currently zoned for high density business and retail, the RFP indicates the developer may vary from this use and plan to request a zoning variance, special exception or Planned Unit Development (PUD). Both the interior and exterior have been designated as "historic," so the developer will have to work around both DC and federal laws, as well as the numerous DC historic preservation advocates that have long eyeballed this project, when considering the design. But, be prepared to hire on 35% LSDBE entities while requiring no more than 20% in capital from same.

The storied school is nothing if not historic, completed in 1869 by one of DC's best known architects, the site of Alexander Graham Bell's first "photophone" wireless message, and has since been used as a homeless shelter and office building. The thought to match the majestic architecture to a proper use is not new; in 2003 Mayor Anthony Williams' administration led an effort to revamp the school with an RFP, and selected Western Development to turn the property into a hotel. But the plan foundered on the shoals of realpolitik when the nearly evicted homeless men had nowhere to go.

Then-Councilmember Adrian Fenty supported keeping the building dedicated to housing the homeless, but upon ascension as mayor resolved to clear up the issue immediately.


Anonymous said...

In case you're looking for a useless fact... the school is featured in Dan Brown's new book as a potential entry point to the Ancient Mysteries. Told you it was useless.

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