This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Brandon Lee.
The D.C. Council approved major renovations to the Thaddeus Stevens School on Tuesday, preparing it to house a program for autistic students.
Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Council member and mayor-elect, proposed the emergency legislation for up to $18 million in renovations for the school, and to build a 10-story office building in the adjacent lot. Ivymount, an autism education program, will move into the 21st Street building once construction is complete, and will be the first occupant of the historically black charter school since it was shut down by D.C. Public Schools in 2008.
“We didn’t have any specific desire to move into the District, but when the opportunity came up, we knew it was a great location because it’s very close to GW,” Ivymount’s director of development, Molly Whalen, said.
Headquartered in Rockville, Md., Ivymount has worked closely with GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development to complete projects on autism spectrum and developmental research. The city will also use the school as a training ground for future public school teachers.
The plan has been well-received by neighbors, who had expressed concern several years ago when one group floated turning the Stevens school into an apartment building. Community leaders feared it would house rowdy GW students.
Part of the renovation plan, which was brought to the D.C. government in September, mandates site developer Akridge to erect a statue of Thaddeus Stevens, an abolitionist congressman during the Civil War, the Washington Business Journal reported.
The current site also temporarily houses a D.C. fire engine and firetruck while their original home at the West End fire station undergoes its own large-scale renovations next month.