Redevelopment of U Street School Moves Forward as Neighborhood Balks

by Tianna Mañón

Redevelopment of U Street School Moves Forward as Neighborhood Balks: Figure 1
Roadside wouldn’t comment on the status of the proposed addition to the building on the right.

An informational presentation on the redevelopment of a former school near U Street NW became so heated on Monday that an ANC committee member briefly walked out.

Roadside Development and Sorg Architects recently won the rights to develop the Grimke School at 1925 Vermont Avenue NW (map). But a portion of the proposal includes Sorg’s headquarters that Roadside eventually plans to develop into a mixed-use residential building.

Because the land isn’t owned by DC and wasn’t part of the RFP process, Roadside declined to give the Economic Development Committee an update on the parcel. The Sorg-owned building was initially slated to include 20 residential units over a floor of office space and ground-floor retail.

Redevelopment of U Street School Moves Forward as Neighborhood Balks: Figure 2
A proposed look at the use of the Grimke space.

“It will have be through a separate process because it’s two different landowners,” Roadside’s Lionel Lynch told the committee. “And every bit of information I’ve gotten from Sorg is that they do intend to go forward. They just can’t move forward until (the rest of the project is approved).”

The refusal to comment beyond that led Patrick Nelson, Economic Development committee member, to briefly walk out of the meeting in frustration.

Lynch later told UrbanTurf that Sorg was a private landowner that had the “rights to do whatever they want with the property at whatever time they would like to do so.” Lynch also updated the committee on the project’s affordability. Of the 35 proposed condominiums, 13 will be affordable, as legally required by inclusionary zoning.

Seven of the affordable condominiums are proposed at 80 percent of the area median income (AMI). The other six will be more affordable at 50 percent AMI.

Redevelopment of U Street School Moves Forward as Neighborhood Balks: Figure 3
An aerial view of the proposed development.

Plans for the site include a 35-unit, 70-foot tall mixed-use building on the parking lot east of 9 1/2 Street; seven new townhomes on 9 1/2 Street; and a redeveloped Grimke School that will house office space and the African American Civil War Museum.

Many residents, including members of the Grimke Redevelopment Working Group, voiced concerns over the height of the additional building, as well as parking, noise issues and the plans for the private property that will also be part of the finished product.

A couple residents commended Roadside Development for listening to concerns previously voiced in a meeting in February and Lynch said they’ll continue to meet with the ANC to shape their plans going forward.

Commissioner Ellen Nedrow Sullivan, chair of the committee, said she anticipates a long redevelopment process.

“This is a big project,” she said. “It’ll take some time but it’s definitely worth our time and effort.”

Redevelopment of U Street School Moves Forward as Neighborhood Balks: Figure 4
Grimke post-renovation

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/grimke_project_moves_forward_as_neighborhood_balks/9950


  1. Nathaniel Martin said at 9:50 pm on Tuesday June 2, 2015:
    The scale of the proposed new building is completely appropriate for the site. And as for noise, it is right next to a bar with a semi-enclosed roof deck! As for the design, it's not exactly a masterpiece, but at least the facade has some depth and interest (the addition to the existing building is rather dull, but one could argue that that is appropriate to avoid overwhelming the historic portion). In short, this development is absolutely reasonable and the NIMBY's really need to get a life.
  1. skidrowedc@gmail.com said at 10:07 pm on Tuesday June 2, 2015:
    Completely missing from the article is any mention of what approvals are required/ how the project isn't by-right. This is critical information to evaluate just how unreasonable the "working group" is being. My sense, like Nathaniel Martin's above, is that this is a classic case of NIMBYism. What else would explain an ANC committee member becoming so worked-up about an informational presentation?! But if the developers were asking for 2 additional stories, substantially higher FAR, or whatever, it's a different story. I doubt that's the case, but it would change one's reading of the events being reported.

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »