3 thoughts on ““First on the 1st” art + music walk Aug 1

  1. Another off-topic post here – see this article from the Tuesday, July 21, 2009 Examiner on vacant properties being rented by the District government.

    One of the properties listed is the JF Cook School.

    Vacant buildings costing D.C. millions
    By: Michael Neibauer
    Examiner Staff Writer
    July 21, 2009

    The District will spend nearly $13 million next fiscal year to lease, power and keep secure a lengthy lineup of large-scale vacant buildings that the city retains in its inventory.

    Despite a projected $150 million deficit in fiscal 2010, Mayor Adrian Fenty’s revised budget will still require the District to lay out $12.7 million for rent, utilities, security and other so-called fixed costs tied to 20 empty buildings in D.C.’s possession. Fenty’s move to consolidate the D.C. Public Schools and close homeless shelters has left the city with a cache of large, empty structures.

    Among them are the Bunker Hill and Slowe elementary schools in Northeast, the Franklin Shelter downtown, Bruce-Monroe Elementary School on Georgia Avenue, Gales Housing for Women and J.F. Cook Elementary School in Shaw. Each continues to require a minimum level of utilities, security and maintenance — keeping some lights on to ward off trespassers, for example.

    By far the most expensive of the vacant buildings is 225 Virginia Ave. SE, a 421,000 square-foot warehouse near Nationals Park that the city leases from Washington Telecom Associates for $546,000 a month. Unlike schools and shelters, many of which are being offered to the private sector for redevelopment, the Fenty administration still hopes to use 225 Virginia for a “public purpose,” perhaps as the new Child and Family Services headquarters.

    In its amended budget proposal now before the D.C. Council, the administration seeks permission to buy the building for $85 million, subject to the availability of funding — a long shot given the city’s $150 million 2010 shortfall. Renovating it will cost an additional $85 million, City Administrator Neil Albert told the council Monday.

    The capital improvements, Albert said, “will increase the value and use of a property that the District actually owns.”

    The mayor’s multi-year search for a firm willing to take over the lease failed. Fenty claims to have twice reached tentative deals with private groups that fell through as the economy collapsed.

    “I think it makes sense for us to buy it, but we’ve wasted roughly $15 million to get to this point,” said at-large Councilman Phil Mendelson. “The decision to buy should have been made two years ago.”

    Former Mayor Anthony Williams leased 225 Virginia days before he left office in 2006. Fenty ditched plans to house public safety agencies there eight months later.

    The 225 lease will cost D.C. taxpayers $6.5 million in 2010.

    Mneibauer @ washingtonexaminer.com

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