City hears plans for local school building

Neighborhood groups weighed in on three proposals for the redevelopment of Stevens Elementary School this summer, and a winning proposal could be chosen by the city this month.

While all proposals will retain the structure of the historic building, which was built in 1868 and closed last year, each option offered different features for the site located on 21st Street near the edge of campus.

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development originally received nine bids for the 39,000 square-foot property, and after narrowing the choices to three, developers presented their plans to the community in June.

One of those proposals, made by Peebles Development LLC, calls for a boutique hotel and was approved by Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A this summer, in part because the plan includes additional parking space.

Though the group can only offer recommendations to the city on the redevelopment of the school, their comments will be taken into consideration when the city chooses between the three proposals, commissioners said at the body’s meeting in June.

Another proposal came from Equity Residential, the company that also built the apartments at 2400 M St. Commissioners made it clear at the June meeting that they did not support the plan, saying they feared the rooms would be rented out to students. The proposal from Equity Residential

included plans for 190 units of apartments, 9,000 square feet of retail and 90 parking spaces.

“They’ve quickly skewed into glorified dorms,” Commissioner Rebecca Coder said of the apartments at the meeting.

Although most commission members did not support the Equity plan, a popular contestant on the television show “Top Chef,” Carla Hall, has signed on to open a shop that occupies 3,500 square feet of retail space if the city chooses the proposal, according to a Washington Business Journal article published last month.

Hall, a D.C. native, was one of the final three contestants last season. The Equity proposal includes dining and event space for Hall and her catering company.

Despite the celebrity component of the Equity proposal, ANC Commissioner and Foggy Bottom Association President Asher Corson said he did not think Hall’s presence will affect the decision.

“My expectation is that it will have absolutely no impact on the decision of the city,” Corson said.

Another plan, from Moddie Turay Co., proposed construction of a boutique hotel with retail and office space and 151 parking spaces, but Corson said Friday that the FBA unanimously recommended the Peebles developer.

“The FBA Board unanimously backed the ANC’s resolution and submitted our own letter in support of the Peebles proposal,” Corson said.

Corson added that additional office space would only bring more traffic and pollution to the neighborhood.

“It does nothing for the community,” he said.

Corson, a GW alumnus, said he believes it will be hard for the city to proceed with any projects in the neighborhood, such as development of the West End Library and fire station, if it doesn’t listen to input from neighbors on the Stevens project.

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