Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Franklin School: Is there a plan?

The Franklin School, located at 13th & K Street NW, was designed by Adolph Cluss in 1869.  It is a National Historic Landmark. Photo: army.arch on Flickr.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2F's February 4 agenda (7pm at the Washington Plaza Hotel, 10 Thomas Circle NW) includes (at about 8:45pm) presentation of a proposal for the Franklin School. As you may remember, the city abruptly closed the Franklin School, which was being used as a low-barried shelter for 400 homeless, in late September, after gradually removing its beds to reduce capacity.

Years ago, the District planned on putting a boutique hotel in the historic building through one of those lucrative, no-bid contracts to a politically-connected developer. When that saw the light of day, the plan fell apart, ultimately ending in a lawsuit and recent settlement in favor of the developer.

Is a legitimate, publicly-vetted plan for the Franklin School near? As this 2005 article shows, a plan has been long coming and through many concepts, but not soon arriving.


SG said...

I hope it's sold to a developer. Yes, I know that's un-PC, but this beautiful historic building should NEVER be (or have been) a homeless shelter. Return it to productive use, rather than a warehouse for homeless in one of the city's most prominent corners next to a stately park (which also turned into a shelter). So long as the developer doesn't alter the historical elements of the building, doesn't receive subsidies, and pays taxes, I will be happy. Hopefully it will be a boutique hotel with a restaurant, or guest residence for foreign dignitaries or something.

Homeless advocates are such zealots that no solution but free upscale housing for the homeless would appease them.

Cary Silverman said...

My first choice would be for the Franklin School to renovated into a premier, stand-alone community college for District. The building was designed as a school and this would bring it back to an educational use for which there is a dire need. It seems, however, that the new UDC president is working on revitalizing a community college under his banner - so that may no longer be a viable route.

Otherwise, private development would be fine - so long as proposals go through an open and competitive RFP process with community input - as well as the other criteria stated by SG.