D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) has selected a team of local developers and a special education provider to take over the former Stevens Elementary School in the District’s West End.
From a pool of competing developers and schools, Gray picked District-based developers Akridge and Argos Group to build a 10-story office building with ground-floor retail and underground parking on what is now the school’s parking lot and land along L Street.
The historical school, at 21st and K streets NW, opened in 1868 to educate the children of freed slaves, and was later attended by President Jimmy Carter’s daughter, Amy.
Under Gray’s plan, the building itself would become a special education center operated by the Ivymount School, a Rockville-based special education program that already works in collaboration with D.C. Public Schools to help students with autism, developmental delays, speech-language impairments and other disabilities.
Gray proposes leasing the property to the developers and school, which would require approval by the D.C. Council. In a statement, Gray referred to the partners as “respected institutions with proven track records of success that will turn this unique development opportunity into a victory for economic growth and special education here in the District.”
D.C. Deputy Mayor for Education De’Sean Wright said the Ivymount School would help the city’s public and charter schools “meet the demand for high quality educational services for our children and youth with autism.”
This is not the first time Akridge has been picked for the work. The D.C. Public Schools system once selected Akridge as its preferred developer for the site while the school was still operating, but the deal never materialized.
Stevens was then closed as part of former Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee’s reform efforts in 2008. Former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) sought to redevelop the property, picking apartment builder, Equity Residential, but the economy soured and the choice angered neighbors before the work could start.
This time around, however, residents supported the idea returning an educational use to the school and ANC 2A voted unanimously Aug. 15 to support the Akridge-Argos team.
Akridge’s development will be named Thaddeus Stevens Place, after the public education advocate who died the year the school opened.
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