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Grimke School redevelopment dropped after months of inactivity

Despite the called off deal, the District still hopes to redevelop the site

In 2014, former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the redevelopment of the historic Grimke School and an adjacent lot at Vermont Avenue and U Street NW. Now, two years later, Roadside Development and the District called off their deal for the project. First reported by Washington Business Journal, Roadside Development Principal Richard Lake said that the issues that caused the $35 million project to discontinue included financing issues and fatigue.

If the redevelopment had continued, it would have housed the African-American Civil War Museum as well as studios and offices for Step Afrika!, CityDance, Imagination Stage, and Dance USA. Seven townhomes were also planned along with a 30-unit condo building with ground-floor retail.

Washington Business Journal reported that, by March of next year, the District plans on reaching a deal with Community Three and Torti Gallas Architects, who finished second in the RFP competition. The proposal totals roughly 26,000 square feet with 10,000 square feet for a museum, 4,400 square feet for Torti Gallas’ use, and finally 1,500 square feet for the U Street Arts League.

In February of this year, the project won approval by the D.C. Council. Nine months later, in November, Washington City Paper reported that residents in the U Street area were “fuming” due to the long delay on redeveloping the 1887-constructed, dilapidated building.

Frank Smith, founding director of the African American Civil War Museum, told the Washington City Paper, “We’re really disappointed that this still hasn’t been done.”

Despite the District and developer dropping the project, Deputy Mayor Brian Kenner said in a statement, "We remain committed to the community and will work with a sense of urgency to move this project forward; it's what the residents have asked for and what they deserve."

Exclusive: District, Roadside part ways on Grimke School redevelopment [Washington Business Journal]

A Delayed Redevelopment off U Street NW Stirs Discontent [Washington City Paper]