Posted tagged ‘Bruce Monroe Site’

Notes from February Park Morton Steering Committee Meeting

March 1, 2019

Aimee McHale from the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development’s office sharing information with the Committee.

Last night’s community Park Morton Steering Committee Meeting offered and overview on where things stand regarding the plans to replace and rebuild Park Morton in three phases over two sites. The key information points that were shared centered around the following.

Bruce Monroe Zoning Appeal

As people may recall, the Park Morton redevelopment effort broke down into two zoning cases, one for the current Park Morton site (ZC 16-12) and one for the former Bruce Monroe site (ZC 16-11). Zoning Case 16-12 was not appealed, but Case 16-11 was. Oral arguments for the zoning appeal were heard before the Court of Appeals on February 14, 2019.

There was no decision following oral arguments and there is no required time by which the Court of Appeals must render a decision. Based on past cases, a decision could be between 2-18 month. It is estimated that construction could start 6-9 months after the appeal is resolved.

The primary issues challenging the zoning order shared at the meeting can be seen in the slide below:

Interim Control Funding

The second significant update that was presented was the DMPED funding assistance to the DC Housing Authority (DCHA) to perform interim controls. In 2018, DCHA did environmental studies at its properties throughout DC. At Park Morton, they discovered lead which required remediation. Due to the expense and with redevelopment looming, DCHA initially indicated that it wanted to move residents out and just replace existing buildings. This would have resulted in displacing families which the ANCs, Council, DMPED, and New Communities Initiative are all dedicated to preventing. The current plan is for a phased replacement that does not displace our neighbors.

In order to keep the promise of a development that is constructed in phases without displacement, DMPED agreed to assist DCHA with $4.5M in funding to address the lead and other maintenance issues present at Park Morton that must be addressed between now and the start of the redevelopment.

Housing Mix Review

Another focus area of the meeting concerned the number of units, the affordability of the units, and how many bedrooms each unit had. This was largely a review, but emphasis was made that families living at Park Morton would move into new units once constructed that were appropriate to their needs. Currently, every Park Morton apartment is a  two-bedroom apartment. Some families only need a one-bedroom apartment and others need apartments that are three- or four-bedrooms.

To determine the right size apartment for each family, DMPED has been conducting household surveys and using data from DCHA to identify the various apartment sizes that are necessary to meet the needs of families living at Park Morton. At a very high level, the slide below shows how many housing units will be produced during each phase and where.

The meeting closed out with a Q & A session where questions were asked about job training programs and neighborhood investment in addition to additional information in the areas from the presentation.

DGS to Repair Basketball Courts at Bruce Monroe Site Beginning February 26th

February 23, 2019

Maintenance of the basketball courts at the Bruce Monroe site has been an ongoing issue for at least a year, and as you can see from the photos above and below one of the courts in particular is completely unusable.

To address this, beginning on Tuesday, February 26th, the Department of General Services will be taking the basketball courts off-line for approximately four weeks in order to repair them. DGS’s contractor will install protective fencing around the work areas while work is in progress.

DGS does not anticipate that other area of the site will be affected during this work.

Soil Testing to Begin Soon at the Bruce Monroe Park Site

November 10, 2017

Beginning next week, soil testing will be conducted at the Bruce Monroe Park site. These tests are a component of the due diligence required for the Build First residential development of Park Morton’s replacement housing.

While the testing is part of the Park Morton effort, it is not the start of the project. Rather it is a preliminary activity to better understand the soil conditions of the site.

Below are some details of what may likely be the most common questions:

Start, End and Hours

  • Tuesday, 11/14, 2017- 11/22, 2017
  • Includes work on Saturday, 11/17, weather permitting
  • Daily work hours are 7am – 5pm

Area of Testing

  • Drilling will commence in different  areas of the park each work day
  • four (4) drills each day
  • A map of the boring locations is below


  • Impacted area will be cordoned off with cones and construction tape
  • Boring holes will be filled in or patched at the conclusion of each workday
  • The drill rig will remain on site and be fenced during the night


  • Soil tests will occur in the community garden
  • No garden plots will be impacted
  • Portions of the chain link fence will be temporarily removed and returned upon completion


  • A maximum three (3) contractors may park their vehicles in the community

More information can be found on the flyer distributed at the November ANC1A meeting and below:

Park Morton Development Plan for Bruce Monroe Site Draws Appeals

June 9, 2017

Four separate, but nearly identical, petitions to review the Zoning Commission’s Board Order to redevelop the Bruce Monroe site for the Park Morton project were filed with the District of Columbia Court of Appeals on May 30, 2017. The petitions were filed by residents living close to the site, and ask the Court to “begin the briefing that will show how [the] final decision [of Zoning Case 16-11] is not in line with applicable DC Code, DC Zoning Regulations, the DC Comprehensive Plan, and the law to [the filer’s] concrete detriment.”

Based on some of the testimony given before the DC Council during the surplus and disposition process and before the Zoning Commission, these appeals were not unexpected. Presuming the Court of Appeals reaffirms the Park Morton effort when they review the petitions, and taking into account the current timeline for appeals before the Court, the appeals will result in either no delay in breaking ground or a delay of 1-3 months. The project and development team are continuing to work on plans with a Summer 2017 start date in mind.

(Design for the Park Morton apartment building at the Bruce Monroe site.)

Notes from the Bruce Monroe Site Surplus Meeting

March 22, 2016

Bruce Monroe Surplus meeting(Bruce Monroe Surplus Meeting, March 21, 2016).

Last night’s public meeting on the proposed surplus of the Bruce Monroe site lasted for roughly two hours. It was hosted by DMPED’s Lee Goldstein in the auditorium of the Park View School building. The meeting began shortly after 6:30 with a brief presentation on the surplus process, along with a very brief overview on where things stand with the Park Morton redevelopment as that project is the desired use for the parcel.

After the initial presentation, those in attendance were given an opportunity to add their testimony to the surplus record that will be delivered to the Council for their deliberation on the matter. Those speaking were limited to 3 minutes, and the testimony was recorded and will later be transcribed. Slightly more than 100 people attended the meeting with at least 1/3 of them testifying.

Residents spoke both in support and opposition to the surplussing of the parcel. Many of the themes and comments were consistent with statements made at earlier Park Morton engagement meetings. Those who favor keeping 100% of the site as greenspace questioned how a property could be considered surplus with no identifiable public use when the “property is used all the time.” Several also referenced the old Hebrew Home site and vacant private property on Georgia Avenue as better build first sites.

Residents who favored surplussing the site also spoke in favor of using it for Park Morton, and the need for affordable housing in the city in general. One resident talked about how he uses the tennis courts at Bruce Monroe frequently and would probably not be able to find a new tennis court that he could walk to due to the development of the site — but stated he still supported the surplus of the property as he considered affordable housing a greater public use than a tennis court.

The testimony — while personal at times — was largely orderly. Those unable to speak, or who wish to submit written statements, can do so until close of business on Wednesday, March 23rd, by sending statements to Lee Goldstein at lee.goldstein(at)dc(dot)gov.

ANC1A’s Bruce Monroe Long-term Use Survey Report Released

March 14, 2016

ANC1A’s Bruce Monroe long-term use survey report was officially accepted at their March 9, 2016, public meeting. A total of 814 community members participated in the survey. The survey report along with supporting documentation is publicly available on the ANC1A Web site at While the survey was not without its limitations, there are a couple of generalizations that should help guide future discussions about the long-term use of the site.

Three themes that emerged were:

  • Those taking the survey value greenspace (it is important to note that there was no distinction in the survey as to the type of greenspace — i.e. park, recreation center, community garden, or farmers market);
  • Many of those taking the survey were supportive of a site that combined a park with some other use — provided they also agreed with the other type of use; and,
  • There was little support among participants in fully developing the entire site.

The chart below best sums this up.

Bruce Monroe site survey(Chart from ANC1A Bruce Monroe Site Community Survey Report)

When participants were allowed to select multiple categories with no limit on choices, again there were strong preferences for public uses, greenspace, and a mix of park and public uses. As with the chart above, the only use that participants were strongly opposed to were commercial/residential development when park space wasn’t present. The chart below illustrates these choices.

General Preferences Bruce Monroe Survey(Chart from ANC1A Bruce Monroe Site Community Survey Report)

As noted above, the survey was not without its limitations. The most notable challenge was that the “demographics of the survey respondents were dramatically different from the demographics of the target area (based on 2010 census data). Some 68.8 percent of the survey respondents were White/Caucasian and 21 percent of the respondents were Black/African American. Compare this to their representation in the population of the target area – 20.6 percent and 63.43 percent, respectively.”

None-the-less, the survey does provide some helpful insight into the communities’ desired uses for the site which should be helpful as ANC 1A considers the future of the site.

The full survey report is available here.

Georgia Avenue Portion of Bruce Monroe Site Originally Private Land, Needed for Build First School Plan in 1970

December 30, 2015

In the current discussion about using a portion of the former Bruce-Monroe Elementary School site as a Build First site for the  redevelopment of Park Morton, one of the arguments that’s been used by those not supporting this solution is that public land should not be given to a private developer. Yet, in an interesting historical twist, the reason for the large size of the former school site that exists today is that the Bruce-Monroe School required a Build First site for its construction, and the solution was to take the private property along Georgia Avenue between Columbia Road and Irving Street by eminent domain in order to create that school. From this perspective, with the school now gone, using the land along Georgia Avenue for a non-public purpose would be restoring it to its use prior to 1970.

This use of eminent domain for new schools was not a unique approach in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Unlike the last decade, during the 1960s DC schools were struggling with over enrollment. Rather than renovate and enlarge old school buildings which is the approach we use today, new schools were often built adjacent to existing schools, and upon completion, the old schools were razed. In Ward 1, this was not only the case with the old Monroe School and the Bruce-Monroe School that replaced it, but it was also the case with the old Morgan School in Adams Morgan which was replace by the Marie H. Reed Learning Center.

The old Monroe School on Columbia Road.

The old Monroe School on Columbia Road.

Discussions to replace the old Monroe School date to the mid-1960s. President Johnson was particularly interested in funding DC schools, though would often see his proposed budget cut by Congress or the District Commissioners. In 1966, it was reported that the funding for a new building to replace the Monroe and Bruce schools had been cut from the budget.

This detail from the 1968 Baist's Real Estate Atlas shows that the Georgia Avenue frontage of the Bruce Monroe site was originally private property with commercial buildings.

This detail from the 1968 Baist’s Real Estate Atlas shows that the Georgia Avenue frontage of the Bruce Monroe site was originally private property with commercial buildings.

1969 was a crucial year for the new Bruce-Monroe school. It was listed as one of 15 new schools that the school system was seeking funding for at the beginning of the year, yet the District School Board decided in February to chop $8 million from its $55 million request resulting in plans for Bruce-Monroe to be shelved. This decision was quickly reversed on April 1st as the $8 million was restored to the original budget request … and the request was approved by the District City Council on April 3rd. However, the total District budget request for 1970 was $728.2 million and President Johnson had already announced a budget of $702 million for the District in January. Perhaps in partial response to this, the school board once again reversed itself on April 25th and removed funding for the new Bruce-Monroe School.

Despite the back and forth funding drama unfolding in April 1969, the project appears to have gotten a delayed approval after a meeting with the community to discuss the proposed replacement of the Monroe School held at the end of May. Over a year later, in September 1970, notices began to appear in the Washington Evening Star announcing the government’s intent to take the private property abutting the school on Georgia Avenue to use for municipal purposes — that being, a new school. The Department of General Services began taking sealed bids on April 23, 1971 with a closing date of May 24th.

Ground was broken on the new school on October 5, 1971, and the $4 million school was completed and ready to serve the community in the fall of 1973. Upon its completion, the old Monroe School was razed save for the old auditorium which was connected to the new school by a causeway.

Bruce Monroe ground breaking(Lisa Nix (left) and Jonathan Brooks (right) break ground for the new Bruce Monroe, October 5, 1971).

Bio-retention Area of Bruce Monroe Site to Remain Closed to Dogs

November 3, 2015
The area at Bruce Monroe Park closed to dogs recently.

The area at Bruce Monroe Park closed to dogs recently.

In early October, the fenced in area on the Bruce Monroe Site near the community garden was locked and closed to dog owners who’d been using the area as a dog run. Since that event, ANC Commissioner Rashida Brown has been working with the Department of Parks and Recreation and Ward 1 Councilmember Nadeau to learn more about the decision to close the area.

Over the weekend, Commissioner Brown released information to provide some background on why the area was closed.

What follows is Commissioner Brown’s statement:

I’m providing clarity on some concerns from the community that came to the attention of Council Member Nadeau and I regarding the dog run at the Bruce Monroe park. City officials confirmed that the fenced in area on the southwest end of the park is a bio-retention site that is used as a storm water run off for the community garden and must be not be used as a dog run. I’m sharing a handout that the Department of Parks and Recreation developed providing more background about the site.

It indicates that “foot traffic (by both humans and dogs) degrades the function of bio-retention areas by compacting the layers of soil that serves to absorb storm water, eventually leading to erosion issues and reduced function of the bio-retention area.” Furthermore, dog waste transferring over to the garden area creates transmittable diseases and is hazardous to both humans and pets.

Health and safety are paramount and must come first. Therefore, the padlock and “no dogs allowed” sign on the gate around the bio-retention site must not be removed. Trespassing laws also apply to this area. The attached handout also provides details and codes on dog park rules and regulations.

Council Member Nadeau’s staff and I are working with the dog owner network to help identify a feasible space and connect them with resources to start an official dog park in the neighborhood. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or Elizabeth Horn, Council Member Nadeau’s Constituent Services Specialist, if you have any questions.

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