Bruce-Monroe RFP Issued

As noted by the Washington City Paper, the District released their request for proposals to redevelop the former Bruce-Monroe school site on July 26th. Those interested in reading the full RFP, as well as the contents of the four appendices, can do so by going to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development’s Web site.

As briefly described in the introduction of the proposal, the Development Site is approximately 121,825 square feet in size and is currently split-zoned (C-2-A/R-4). The Site currently contains an interim community park with various hardscape playing fields and asphalt pathways. Until 2008, the site had been used as a 3-story, 110,000 square foot elementary school.

Proposals are due on October 14, 2010. A forum for all interested parties in the site will be held at a pre-proposal conference and site visit at the GADGET Center, 2801 Georgia Avenue, NW, on August 10, 2010, at 10:00 a.m.

In perusing the RFP, some notable details stood out. The first was the option for interested parties  to propose either a school and commercial project OR just a commercial project.

In both options, a better area school is a stated goal of the development. Where that school is, however, depends upon the focus. In the event of a proposal for a school and commercial development, a new school would return to the Bruce-Monroe site. If interested parties focus on the commercial aspect, the RFP clearly states that “this development option will include a ground lease or a fee-simple conveyance of the entire site. In this option, the proceeds from the conveyance may be utilized [sic] to fund school improvement at the off-site Bruce Monroe Elementary School at Parkview [sic] — P. 4” (emphasis mine).

While the stated goal of the solicitation is to develop a new school facility and a state-of-the-art mixed-use development on Georgia Avenue, the inclusion of an option that would generate funds to modernize the Park View school is a significant detail. While there is every possibility that this clause may turn out to be meaningless depending upon the proposals received, it does indicate that the City and DCPS is taking a much larger view of the needs of the immediate community and the Georgia Avenue corridor as a whole.

Factoring in the newly completed $2M interim park on the former Bruce-Monroe site, it strikes me that redevelopment of the property may become more difficult rather than simpler. From solely a financial perspective, the best interim option was the original $500,000 parking lot proposal. No one wanted a parking lot and everyone would have been happy to see it removed in five years.

With the advent of two basketball courts, a tennis court, and two tot lots – not to mention green space in an area that has been documented time and again to be lacking in park land when compared to other sections of the city – some residents aren’t likely to be as willing to watch a new community asset be redeveloped for a building. This doesn’t mean that it can’t happen. But it does set a much higher bar for a developer to propose a smart development that meets the commercial, educational, and communal needs of the area. Is it possible to have an attractive, pedestrian-friendly proposal that includes a school, mixed-income housing, commercial space, and publicly accessible green space? Probably, but it is going to take an exceptionally talented and creative team to fit all this onto this 121,825 square foot property.


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4 Comments on “Bruce-Monroe RFP Issued”

  1. Angry Parakeet Says:

    Funding for physical rehabilitation of the beautiful historic Park View school is the best. Another elementary school at this location is not needed! Time will tell how much the community enjoys and fights for keeping this new park – I have high hopes for it.

  2. pissed off Says:

    Another theft job by the powers that be in this city: Big developers with the help of elected officials.

    No chance a school gets developed here as was promised. No chance the kids of the neighborhood that were uprooted and bussed to an inferior, rat-infested school get any justice. The school was a well-run school with good teachers and a highly active and supportive PTA. It was chosen to be eliminated based on racial politics, plain as day.

    There are a lot of kids in the immediate area. They shouldn’t have to be bussed to crappy schools when they had a good one. Rebuild the school!

  3. […] the RFP issued for the redevelopment of this 3 acre site. Readers may recall that the RFP contains two options, one to develop the site with a new school and a mixed-use development, and one to develop the site […]

  4. […] RFP issued in July of 2010 did not generate the interest the District had hoped for so no development will be considered at […]

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