Now that the University has offered an updated amenities package that includes Zoning Commission requests for clearer language, it is up to residents to clarify their demands and stop stalling the opening of the Elliott School of International Affairs.
Local residents have two weeks to agree to the package or once again ask for more. The University has not necessarily provided the clearest possible language in the updated proposal, but General Counsel has made a step in the right direction. The University has stepped to the bargaining table, and instead of simply rejecting the proposal, residents should enter into the bargaining process to move this project along in the best attainable interests of both parties.
The University has now nailed down 18 amenities that are largely enforceable – at the request of the Zoning Commission earlier this month – that benefit the community in its proposal. These include increased University Police patrols, up to 5,000 square feet of public retail space in the new site and Mitchell Hall, scheduling truck deliveries around rush hours and the reopening of Scholl’s Cafeteria, an affordable eatery, in the Hall on Virginia Avenue.
The plan previously only alluded to an undefined space for retail to benefit the neighborhood and did not clarify how the University would deliver promised aid to Scholl’s.
Foggy Bottom residents are not irrational in asking for clarification of the amenities offered by the University. But now that the University has clarified its offer, the approval process must move forward so GW can open this state-of-the-art building by fall.
If residents persist in stymieing GW’s offer, the Zoning Commission should see the situation for what it is – a group of jaded residents who will do anything to prevent the University from progressing.
Stall tactics are not good for the University or the surrounding community. The building is almost done. It is just a matter of time and local politicking before the University will be able to get approval. The Advisory Neighborhood Commission needs to realize that GW is going to occupy this real estate, and the whole thing is not going to be “re-thought” as ANC chairman Elizabeth Elliott suggests.
At the very least, the ANC should tell the University what it wants before it attacks the University for failing to comply with vague demands.