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Roadside Under Pressure From U Street ANC On Grimke School Redevelopment

Roadside Under Pressure From U Street ANC On Grimke School Redevelopment

In 2014, the DC government issued an RFP for the redevelopment of the Grimke School and surrounding properties in Shaw, awarding the project to Roadside Development

Now, two years later, with the development yet to break ground, ANC 1B has passed a resolution urging developers to move forward with the project, Borderstan reports.

But Roadside founding principal Richard Lake, snapped above at a Bisnow event last year, tells us that while no one wants the project to move forward as much as he does, it's just not that easy.

He notes that while Roadside was awarded the RFP two years ago, the City Council just approved their plans earlier this year.

"The real struggle with the project is that the building hasn't been occupied in years," Richard says. "Any building that hasn't been occupied for years suffers some decay and this particular building needs a lot more love than we first imagined."

Grimke School redevelopment

As soon as he discovered the amount of restorative work the building would need, Richard says he told the City Council, the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the ANC. 

"Everyone should be up to speed on where we are," Richard says. "There's no hidden agenda, we're not sitting on it. We're trying to figure it out and we brought in structural engineers, contractors, environmentalists...we're really trying to get a clear answer on what it's going to take to get the project off the ground." 

"We have made good progress with the city and particularly the Deputy Mayor's Office," he says.

Richard says it is difficult to privately finance a project that needs this much work, especially since the tenants he plans to bring in, including nonprofits and a cultural center, wouldn't be able to afford a higher rent. 

Roadside plans to renovate the existing 52k SF building at 1923 Vermont Ave NW to include: 20k SF of office, a new 13k SF home for the African American Civil War Museum and a 7,500 SF dance studio.

Richard also plans to build a new, six-story, 29k SF multifamily building at 912 U St NW, which would include 35 condos (13 of them affordable) and 3,300 SF of ground-floor retail. The plans also calls for construction of seven new townhouses on the same block. 

Related Topics: Roadside Development, Shaw