The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission voted unanimously Jan. 20 to recommend EastBanc, Inc. for the development of the West End Neighborhood Library and West End Fire Station.
Of the two proposals presented to the community last month, only Eastbanc offered plans to redevelop the fire station, which became an important factor in the decision at the ANC meeting. EastBanc’s plans call for a 20,765-square-foot library on the ground level with a 10-story residence above. Engine Co. 1’s fire station at 23rd and M streets would include a mezzanine and apartments on the second to fourth floors.
“For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to visit our fire station – the fire station that serves the White House and State Department – I can promise you that you will be embarrassed by the conditions the state is putting our firefighters in,” said Asher Corson, an ANC commissioner and president of the Foggy Bottom Association.
The ANC’s recommendation will now go to the Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning and Economic Development. Although the community gives input, the final choice of a developer will be up to the city.
In 2007, the D.C. Council was in negotiations with EastBanc for the project, but residents objected, so the council ended the deal that year. Last year, the city released a request for proposals for the library and fire station.
A group made up of Tolls Brothers, Paramount Development, and Torti Gallas proposed a two-level library measuring 21,300 square feet. The developers also planned to include 220 residential condominiums along with 48,000 square feet of retail space with room for a grocery store.
The ANC meeting was full of residents concerned about the development of the library located at 24th and L streets.
“I think specifically the EastBanc proposition has a part of their plan that was very important to the West End [Library] friends and the community that was taking the survey. They did a single floor library and from an operational perspective and from a security perspective it’s an easier thing to manage,” said Commissioner Rebecca Coder.
A grocery store option was another issue for residents. Some residents wanted another grocery for convenience and to increase variety in the area, but others argued that the new grocery store planned for Square 54, across from GW Hospital, is a better location.
ANC Chairman Armando Irizarry said he was inclined to support EastBanc’s application because the group gave the neighborhood the chance to have both the library and fire station remodeled.
“They have the parking spaces, and the density is not as high as the Toll Brothers’ application,” Irizarry said of EastBanc.