Grimke School New Condos
Mixed-use Development in Shaw DC

GRIMKE SCHOOL

1925 Vermont Avenue NW DC 20001

Planned redevelopment project at 1923 -1925 Vermont Ave NW and adjacent parking lot at 920 U Street NW.  The property is one of eleven shuttered District schools in various stages of redevelopment through the office of the Deputy mayor for Planning and Economic Development (ODMPED). Grimke School is located in the Shaw-Cardozo and U Street Corridor neighborhood of Washington DC.

Developer: Community Three Development
Architect: Torti Gallas Partners
Arts Administrator: Cultural DC
Contractor:  Unknown

Grimke School overhead view

Grimke School Project Overview

After being on hold briefly following the resignation of the DMPED’s originally selected developer and architect in early December 2016, Community Three Development and Cultural DC have reached agreement with the agency to move forward with their plan. Their proposal includes 50 condominiums, 30% of which will be classified affordable, 4,000 square feet of ground floor retail, a 10,000 square foot African American Civil War Museum and a 5,000 square foot arts space. Community Three competed for the property twice before, during the Gray and Fenty administrations.

Grimke School History

Built in 1887 as The Phelps School, the school was renamed in 1934 for the Grimke family.Archibald Grimke, a former slave, lawyer, intellectual, journalist, diplomat and community leader in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A graduate of freedmen’s schools, Lincoln University and Harvard Law School, he later was appointed as American Consul to the Dominican Republic from 1894 to 1898. He was an activist for rights for blacks, working in Boston and Washington, DC. He was a national vice-president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as well as president of its Washington, DC branch. The 37,926 SF property was later used as headquarters for the DC Department of Corrections and the DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services. The Grimke Elementary School is a contributing building to the U Street Historic District.

Grimke School Redevelopment History

DMPED hopes to reach agreement with Community Three Development and Torti Gallas by March of 2017.
In late 2016, ANC iB issued a Resolution including a deadline for signing by Roadside Development and Sorg Architects, the team selected by DMPED to redevelop the Grimke School site. The deadline was not met and Roadside/Sorg withdrew. Second place finalist Community Three Development was offered the opportunity for a second time. Since the long, drawn-out process of approval began, C3D has initiated several new projects. It is not known at this time whether they would have interest in revisiting the Grimke development, or, if so, they would stick to their original plan.
The winning bid was Roadside Development and architect Suman Sorg, who owns a building adjacent to the Grimke School project. Their plan included a total of 42 condominium units with 13 Affordable Dwelling Units at 50% and 80% AMI. Anchored by the African American Civil War Memorial’s 13k SF museum space, the project also called for leased office space for creatives, approx. 3k SF of retail space, nearly 7500 Sf of performance space, 35 condos and 7 townhomes. Early signers were City Dance, Step Afrika! and Imagination Stage.
The Government of the District of Columbia (the “District”), through the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (“DMPED”), issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to (1) rehabilitate and reuse the approximately 52,000 gross square foot historic Grimke School building located at 1923 Vermont Avenue, NW, (2) develop approximately 10,000 square feet of space inside the Grimke School building for use by the African American Civil War Museum (“AACWM”), (3) redevelop the approximately 14,000 square foot portion of the lot area behind the Grimke School building, AND (4) redevelop an approximately 5,900 square foot lot adjacent to the historic Grimke School located at 912 U Street, NW in Ward 1 on June 4, 2014. The RFP closed on August 28, 2014.

Grimke School Project Proposals

Runner-up Community Three Development with architect Tori Gallas Partners plan proposed new 2.5 story townhomes in place of the existing gym facing 9 1/2 Street, a 10,000 SF Museum, 1,500 SF creative space for U Street Arts League and a 4,400 – 4,500 SF office space for Torti Gallas Architects shared with U Street Arts League. The entire proposed project would include approx. 48 parking spaces, of which 33 are off- street (5 spaces at U Street site, 28 spaces at the school site).

Grimke School Mapped

The Development Parcels are located in the Mid-City U Street/Uptown neighborhood, also known as the U Street Corridor, in Washington, D.C. The commercial and entertainment corridor known as the U Street Corridor is situated to the immediate north of the Development Parcels. To the northwest of the Development Parcels is the African American Civil War Memorial, located at the entrance of a Metro station. The School Parcel and the Vacant Parcel are separated by 9 1⁄2 Street, NW.

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