Sorg Architects and Roadside Development Propose Mixed-Use Project For U Street School

by Lark Turner

Sorg Architects and Roadside Development Propose Mixed-Use Project For U Street School: Figure 1
Grimke School

Submissions aren’t even due yet, but one development team vying for the Grimke School property in the U Street Corridor is already wooing the neighbors.

Sorg Architects, whose offices neighbor the property, and Roadside Development, the developer of Shaw’s City Market at O, sought community input on Wednesday night before submissions are due next Thursday. The city put out a request for proposals on the property at 1925 Vermont Avenue NW (map) earlier this year.

Sorg Architects and Roadside Development Propose Mixed-Use Project For U Street School: Figure 2
The Grimke School in the background, with the auditorium building in the foreground.

All plans must include at least a 10,000 square foot space for the African American Civil War Museum. The site includes the historic Grimke School building, a gymnasium and a surface parking lot. Apart from the museum, the former school has been either vacant or occupied by government offices for years, and past attempts to redevelop it have failed.

Sorg principal Suman Sorg said many developers had approached the architect to partner on the site.

“We chose Roadside because we felt they had the highest commitment to design quality,” Sorg said.

Sorg and Roadside’s plans for the development, which were broadly sketched out at the meeting, include putting the museum and a dance studio in the main Grimke building as well as tearing down the rear gymnasium and replacing it with some form of rowhouses mirroring the homes on 9 1/2 Street, pictured below. The plan may also include a small retail component in the school building, potentially a restaurant. Parking can’t be built under the school, the developers said, so the development will likely just use the surface parking available on the site to fulfill parking requirements.

Sorg Architects and Roadside Development Propose Mixed-Use Project For U Street School: Figure 3
9 1/2 Street homes.

Though a group of neighbors had requested no residential uses for the site, those gathered at Sorg’s offices on Wednesday didn’t immediately express any opposition to the plan.

Richard Lake, one of Roadside’s founding partners, told community members their submission would reflect the community’s goals for the site, which were written over a period of several months by a group of neighbors but not ultimately included in the city’s RFP.

“Unlike City Market at O, which was intended to be a large and impactful project, this is intended to be a low-impact project,” Lake said.

Once all the development teams have submitted their proposals, the city will select a few finalists and ultimately settle on a winner.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/sorg_architects_and_roadside_development_plan_mixed-use_submission_for_grim/8901

1 Comment

  1. Ninth Street Neighbor said at 4:14 pm on Friday August 22, 2014:
    If you have not seen the 1400 block of 9th Street, NW — the backside, or ASS, of the City Market at O Street Project — then you may not draw the visceral conclusions that I have drawn. Roadside’s City Market at O development has destroyed an entire block of 9th Street frontage, between N and O Streets, on the east side. This destroyed block look like the perimeter of a federal prison. And to make the wound deeper, it faces an block of historic rowhouses. I can’t imagine anybody -- and particularly those within viewing distance -- who has seen Roadside’s big “F-U to 9th Street" would feel any differently than I do. Roadside has lost their integrity and my permission (smile) to build/develop in this neighborhood after destroying the entire 1400 block of 9th Street.

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