A Historical Facelift
Howard University is about to embark on a much-needed facelift for some of its historic buildings after the approval of almost $70 million in DC revenue bonds by the DC Council last month. The project will include restoration work to two historic homes in LeDroit owned by Howard as well as plans to upgrade one of Howard’s largest dorms.
In total, the city’s grant of $69.82 million will go toward the remediation, rebates and “selective restoration” of the Robert and Mary Church Terrell house at 326 T St. NW and the Walter E. Washington House at 408-410 T St. NW. The Washington House is the former home of DC’s first mayor elected under home rule. The house currently does not serve a function for the school or the community, and neighbors have been hoping to see it become a usable property again.
The Mary Church Terrell house has long been a discussion at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which supported the grant. It was included in the DC Preservation League’s Most Endangered Places List as early as 1999. The house is slated to be a “student-focused resource and amenity space within the LeDroit Park neighborhood,” and the Washington House will serve as “a university guest house for visiting scholars and VIPs,” according to Anthony Freeman, a senior real estate adviser for Howard. Freeman added that renovation of both properties is scheduled to commence this summer.
In addition, a grant from the US Department of the Interior and the National Park Service will aid in the preservation of both properties and is part of $12.6 million awarded last year to “highlight stories related to the African American struggle for equality in the 20th century,” according to the National Park Service website.
Though the restoration of these homes is a goal of the fund, the primary purpose of the bond issue is for the Harriet Tubman Quad project. Three of the buildings that make up the quad are the three oldest dorms on campus, constructed in 1929. Most other dorms date back to the 1950s. The renovation plan includes increasing the number of beds in the quad from 614 to 661. Students will be transferred during the construction process with the goal of no student losing their ability to have housing. The renovations are on track to allow students to move in this fall.
Affordable on Florida?
The much-anticipated low-income housing venture on Florida Avenue in Truxton took a big public step forward last month. Mi Casa, which plans to deliver the Barnett-Adan Apartments, has filed for a change in zoning on the property, the first solid step toward building that the site has seen in a year.
This project goes all the way back to 2016, when the site was released for requests for proposals on the land, along with a number of other DC-owned and unused sites. In 2018, Mi Casa won the bid for this parcel, promising to build 24 low-income units that span from one to three bedrooms. It will include six one-bedrooms, 12 two-bedrooms and six three-bedrooms; five of the units will be for households earning up to 30% of median family income (MFI), five for households earning up to 50% MFI, eight for households earning up to 60% MFI and six for households earning up to 80% MFI.
In order to start building, MI Casa is seeking zoning approval to extend the MU-4 zone covering most of the 12,402-square-foot site into the RF-1 portion of the site. This action has finally been taken after quite a delay. The project was scheduled to break ground six months after the announcement in May 2018.
The Barnett-Adan Apartments are only one of two major developments slated for that corner of Truxton. The entire block of 1600 North Capitol Street is slated for development. Development will include 6,385 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and 11 rear surface parking spaces. In an attempt to be a net-zero building, a solar array will be installed. The latest proposal also calls for 2,895 square feet of nonprofit office space on a mezzanine level.
Taylor Barden Golden is a real estate agent with the Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates Inc. A former Hill staffer, Taylor lives in Brentwood with her husband, two dogs and a cat. She’s always on the lookout for new places to explore and ways to spend time outside. Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org; @rtaylorb.