Fewer Units, Possibly Condos: The New Plans for DC’s Randall School

As featured in Urban Turf

Soon after Lowe Enterprises joined the team to redevelop the historic Randall School at 65 I Street SW (map), Lowe and partner Telesis Corporation filed a two-year extension for the previously-approved planned-unit development (PUD) with plans to modify the development plans. On Monday night, the slightly modified iteration was presented to the community.

The new concept presented to ANC 6D reduces the massing and the total number of residential units for the building that will abut the school. The interior courtyard has also been enlarged and made more accessible as the residential massing has shifted and an addition to the north face of the school building has been removed.

Rather than the previously approved 520 units, the new plans for the Beyer Blinder Belle development would deliver a total of 485 residential units, including some two-story duplexes along the ground level. The units will be a mix of studios and one- and two-bedrooms, although the potential for three-bedroom units is also being discussed. The team would also like the flexibility for a portion of the units to be for-sale rather than rental, although the entire development would not go condominium.

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Aerial view of scale model of the redevelopment

Other changes in the new iteration include balconies for the units on the top six floors, and a new plan for the two-level underground garage which will no longer extend beyond the footprint of the new building, allowing for trees to be planted along the perimeter.

The team is planning to honor the previously-approved community benefits and stipulations in order to expedite the modification application, including a set-aside of 20 percent of the residential ground-floor area for affordable units for households earning up to 80 percent of area median income.

In addition to the residential component, the building will be retrofit to make way for a museum featuring large artworks from the Rubells Family Collection, a cafe or restaurant, commercial or office space, and educational/event space.

The team will file the modification application with the Zoning Commission in August in hopes of gaining approval early next year. They will also return to the ANC and plan to present their design to the Historic Preservation Review Board. If the proposal is approved in a timely fashion, the developers hope to break ground in late 2018 or early 2019 with the goal of delivery in 2021.

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