The University of the District of Columbia's governing board will vote tonight on a proposal to buy a $330,000 home in a fashionable far Northwest neighborhood as the official residence of the university's future presidents.
The new four-bedroom house, at 3520 Rittenhouse St. NW, is in the city's Chevy Chase neighborhood, about a half mile east of Chevy Chase Circle and two miles north of UDC's Van Ness campus.
Marjorie H. Parker, chairman of the UDC board of trustees, said that body previously approved a search for a suitable official residence as part of its effort to "get a first-rate president to come to Washington" to head the university.
The current president, Lisle C. Carter Jr., has resigned and is expected to leave in June, at the end of the current academic year. In addition to his base salary of about $59,000, he is being paid $12,000 a year as housing allowance. He lives in a town house development off 16th Street NW.
The presidents of two of UDC's predecessor colleges, Federal City College and the Washington Technical Institute, also were paid housing allowances, she said.
Although the university is financed chiefly from congressional appropriations of District and federal tax funds, Parker said the money for the president's home is available from unappropriated funds -- interest on bank accounts and investments.
The house that will be considered for purchase has a circular driveway, a spiral inside staircase, at least two fireplaces and amenities that will make it suitable for official entertaining, Parker said.
She said the house was originally priced at $389,000 by its builders, Rittenhouse Joint Ventures, but was reduced because the university is prepared to pay cash.
John Britton, the university's public relations director, said the search for a presidential residence was authorized at a public vote of the board in September.
"At every other state university across the country, housing is provided for the president," he said, noting that UDC has the status and role of a state university.
After the September board vote, a special committee of the trustees was formed to search for a suitable house. Its chairman, Daniel Fivel, declined comment last night, saying Parker would speak for the board.
The D.C. communications office reported last night that, among top city officials, only the corrections director lives in city-owned housing -- located on the extensive grounds of the Lorton Reformatory complex in suburban Virginia.
There is no official home for the mayor. Former Mayor Walter E. Washington and Mayor Marion Barry, the only two to hold that office since home rule began in 1975, reside in homes they own.
"Maybe, if we are successful," Parker said last night of the UDC proposal, "the city would do the same thing for the mayor."