Community Feedback on Eastern Branch Building RFO

Below is a DRAFT summary of the community feedback ANC 6B’s Hill East Task Force received at the two community meetings on the DC Department of General Services’ proposed Request for Offers on the Eastern Branch Building (261 17th Street SE). Please post your comments and feedback on the draft summary below by Tuesday, May 6. You can also e-mail me your comments and feedback directly.

ANC 6B’s Planning & Zoning Committee will consider this draft summary and any comments received during its meeting on Tues., May 6, 7 pm at St. Coletta of Greater Washington (1901 Independence Ave SE).  The full commission will then vote on final comments to DGS at its Tues., May 13 meeting, 7 pm at the Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Ave SE).

Proposed Request for Offers for the Eastern Branch Building (261 17th Street SE)
DRAFT – Community Feedback – DRAFT
ANC 6B’s Hill East Task Force held two community meetings in April 2014 to get community feedback on the DC Department of General Services’ plans to issue a RFO for the Eastern Branch Building. The city-owned building, home of a former Boys & Girls Club, is in need of significant repair and has been vacant since 2007.

Constraints

  • No city funding anticipated.
  • City wants to lease, not sell.
  • Zoning is R-4 with an exemption for social service uses. Need clarity on what is included in exemption and whether exemption carries with property if building razed.
  • Roof needs to be replaced.
  • Electrical needs to be replaced, plumbing needs significant repair.
  • No air conditioning.
  • Pool has significant damage and has not been in use for past 15 years.
  • No ADA features such as elevators or ramps.

Feedback

  • Preference to use existing building and/or preserve façade. City should give preference to proposals that seek to keep as much of the building as possible. City should also be open to receiving responses that involve demolition of building. If new building necessary, should be consistent with current building and include a nod to original building’s history such as reusing small elements.
  • Community open to housing in a portion of the building to make project financially attractive to developers/organizations. Particular interest in senior housing and/or housing for families. Envision housing on top levels of building.
  • Desire for some community space in the building. The space could be flexible and used for multiple purposes. Envisioned on the first floor.
  • Preferred uses for community “flex” space – daycare, adult daycare or senior services, recreational use (dance or fitness classes, etc.) and community meeting/event space. Community would like to see this flex space used by all ages.
  • Recognizing that Eastern Branch was the only recreational facility in the neighborhood, city should commit to investing in recreational activities in the neighborhood, particularly use of existing facilities at Payne Elementary and Eastern High School.

Other Comments

  • Lease length needs to be significantly longer than 20 years (at least 60 years).
  • When RFO is released, it should be open for at least 60 days.
  • DGS should conduct an updated analysis on the state of the building to inform the RFO. Should make it clear if city funding may be available to help with capital costs.
  • DGS should include a projected cost to demolish the building in the RFO.
  • DGS public hearing on disposition should be at Payne Elementary School.
  • Responses should speak to how potential uses will impact surrounding neighborhood and include plans to mitigate parking, noise issues.
  • Community, through ANC 6B, should have an opportunity to weigh in with comments on RFO responses received.

DRAFT Summary (pdf)

Brief Recap of the April 30 Meeting

We had another good turnout for the second ANC 6B Hill East Task Force meeting on April 30 to discuss the DC Department of General Services’ planned Request for Offers for the Eastern Branch Building (261 17th Street SE). Like the first meeting on April 9, we began the second meeting with a discussion of the building’s current condition and constraints on uses at the site. We then broke up into three groups and considered two questions: 1) should DGS be open to RFO responses that involve the full or partial demolition of the building and 2) what potential uses should be priorities in the RFO. While the answers to question 2 were similar to the answers we heard at the April 9 meeting, more attendees at the second meeting preferred that DGS give preference to responses that involve retaining the existing building.

 

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5 Responses to Community Feedback on Eastern Branch Building RFO

  1. Paul Teicher says:

    I concur with the community feedback, in particular turning the bulding into a multi-use site for both senior housing or family housing, along with a community flex space such as a daycare.

  2. Evan Handy says:

    It the city retains ownership of the building yet provides no funding, options are severely constrained. Adding a long list of community wishes as requirements only makes the project less feasible financially.

    I fear that competent developers will reject the RFO for being unprofitable, and the only respondents will be the unrealistically optimistic, like the folks who own the hole next to SE Market on 15th St.

  3. Pat says:

    Re: Constraints
    1) Would be good to spell out that, in order to repair/make operative the electrical service into the building which is underneath the damaged pool, the pool will need to be removed.
    2) Additional constraint: no ground-level parking space on the building lot

    Re: Feedback
    1) I did not hear a widely shared preference to use the existing building or to preserve its (very ordinary, undistinguished) facade. But it would certainly be good neighbor policy, if a new building replaces this one, to include a nod to the original building’s history – perhaps an attractive plaque mounted by the main entry.

    Other comments:
    1) At the first community meeting, there was a strongly voiced comment against any school (for 1st thru 12 grade children).

  4. […] Request for Offers for the Eastern Branch Building (261 17th Street SE). The comments reflect the community feedback ANC 6B’s Hill East Task Force heard during our two April community meetings. This case will […]

  5. […] 17th Street SE). The comments included feedback received by ANC 6B’s Hill East Task Force at two April community meetings on the topic. DGS is currently working to schedule a public hearing on the building and plans to […]

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