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Redevelopment Of Historic U Street School Breaks Ground

An aerial rendering of the Grimke School redevelopment

A 132-year-old former elementary school building in D.C.'s Shaw neighborhood will soon be given new life. 

Developer Community Three and D.C. officials celebrated the groundbreaking Thursday of the Grimke School redevelopment, a 133K SF project that will feature a mix of multifamily units, office space, retail and a museum. 

The school, originally built in 1887, sits at the intersection of U Street NW and 9 1/2 Street, less than a quarter-mile from the U Street Metro station. The school closed in 1989 and housed D.C. government offices until 2012. 

The District selected Community Three in March 2017 to build the project on the city-owned site after its deal with Roadside Development fell through. The city is ground leasing the school building to Community Three, and it sold the adjacent parking lot and gymnasium sites to the developer. 

The first phase of the development, expected to deliver next fall, will turn the former school building into 65K SF of office and cultural arts space, including a 12K SF new home for the African American Civil War Museum. It will also include a new office for Torti Gallas + Partners, the architect designing the project. Roughly 24K SF of office space remains available for lease. 

Mayor Muriel Bowser and the development team celebrating the groundbreaking of the Grimke School redevelopment

Also part of Phase 1, Community Three plans to build a six-story condo building, branded as The Fold, on the parking lot site. It is expected to deliver next fall with 30 condos and ground-floor retail. EagleBank is financing the development. 

The second phase, expected to break ground in 2021 or 2022, will redevelop the 1920s era gymnasium building into 40 multifamily units, six of which will be live-work "maker" studios. 

"The Grimke School is a special building that, like the neighborhood, has an unmatched and iconic history,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a release. “This transformation will uplift and preserve that history by creating not just more housing and jobs, but a space to celebrate the arts and a permanent home for the African American Civil War Museum."