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City Nearing Proposal Pick for Franklin School Adaptive Re-use

Accompanying images can be viewed in the current issue PDF

P.L. Wolff

When nearly four years ago the Coalition for Franklin School held a public forum on potential educational and cultural uses for the long empty historic Adolph Cluss-designed 1872 building overlooking downtown’s Franklin Square Park, the Mayor’s economic development staff was reviewing three proposals for the adaptive re-use of this landmarked building: an hotel, a Chinese immersion international baccalaureate charter school, and a mixed-use educational and cultural activities site. (See, “New Use for Historic Franklin School Building of Concern to Large Numbers of DC Residents,” InTowner, April 2010 issue PDF page 1;

Now, nearly four years later those proposals were no longer on the table; instead, following a process that commenced in April 2013, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Development is now close to announcing the final selection of one of four proposals:

■ From DC’s Douglas Development, a luxury, 40-room boutique hotel featuring a rooftop restaurant overlooking Franklin Square Park with a branch of Philadelphia’s “Kite & Key” restaurant and bar at street-level.

■ From Georgetown-based Institute for Contemporary Expression (with EastBanc, Inc. and Campbell & Co.), a center for the presentation of temporary exhibitions with galleries throughout the building, lectures, music and performing arts and installations by living artists from around the world thereby promoting “the creation of innovative works of art that challenge and audiences to think in news ways [and to be] a major vibrant cultural hub for residents and visitors. . . .” There will be a restaurant on the first floor and a bookstore and café on the second floor.

■ From Lowe Enterprises and DC Innovates (with Bundy Development Corp.), a tech accelerator providing training, living and work spaces for entrepreneurs which is expected to result in between 2,700 and 4,000 new jobs within five years.

‏■ From CoStar Group, Inc. (with DC developer Jim Abdo as consultant along with Diana Horvat of Perkins & Will), a global technology research and development center that will employ 150 software engineers and data scientists focused on innovation.