Leasing out CAPCS– history repeating itself?

Here’s an interesting tidbit from ten years ago, referring to the CAPCS facility on 14th St and the use (or misuse) of DC government bonds to open a school, only to have it leased out for other uses…

“Just last December [1999], the community thought it would be welcoming the Community Academy Public Charter School to that location, where the school would establish an arts and humanties curriculum tied into the local theaters, or so said Kent Amos, the head of the school.  The community even supported the Amos’ successful effort to obtain $15m in bond financing from the DC government to support, among other things, renovation of the Sign of the Lamb building.   However, Amos has now leased away the property to the training academy; and the justification for a portion of the bond financing has disappeared.   Stop work orders have been issued and violated.  Community residents, major commercial property holders, and Councilmember Evans are currently working to find alternative arrangements for the training academy to identify uses for the property that will support the needs of the wider Logan and Dupont Circle communities.”

Full link to the archived newsletter is  http://www.dupontcircle.biz/dcu/dcu009.htm

6 thoughts on “Leasing out CAPCS– history repeating itself?

  1. Hmm, Interesting find. So now they are seeing if it is easier in our neighborhood. I guess I hesitate to complain since what we had before was a big old vacant run-down building and now at least it’s renovated, and being used. They did host our fall planting, and they do let the neighborhood use its classrooms for meetings. We have to keep an eye on them though and be ready to take action when they are hurting the neighborhood.

  2. Yes, having an occupied building is better than a vacant, dilapidated one. And yes, they’ve allowed for some community use of the building. But so would any public school. At issue is whether our community is just being appeased now and again so that we look the other way when CAPCS strays from its charter or bends the rules governing how public-funded properties can be operated. The renovation was financed by DC public bonds because no other institution would back them. The debt is being paid down by taxpayers, based on the premise that the renovations have been necessary to operate a publicly-funded school.

  3. Derek, it is operating a school. I guess what I am asking – and I’m really not meaning to advocate for CAPCS management – is whether this is a big deal? And if so, whether it is worth fighting?

  4. I guess it depends on what type of events and how large they are planning on hosting. If it’s going to be a high traffic conference/meeting center all the added traffic and parking could be an issue. Hopefully they are not getting another mega-church. Getting 24/hr residential may be a good idea. I agree w derek that the school financing for business aspects is troubling.

  5. Caryn, Derek and Mike,

    It’s time that I ask Councilmember Evans’ office how they proceeded in 1999. I am not against the variety of uses of the school, but would like to know in advance if there are certain regulations that must be followed by the organization with regards to public financing.

    Like you, I am happy that the building is no longer vacant. The renovations look good and for the most part, the school has been a friendly, quiet asset to the community. The Bates are community needs to use the facility more. Perhaps Bradley is planning to execute one of his plays in the auditorium this Spring …in any event, community members need to find good uses of the facility.

    Furthermore, its too bad that the graveled surface did not get cleaned of snow (understanding that its next to impossible to plow gravel), because parking on the wide open lot would alleivate much stress experienced from street-parking during this recent snow. Just think about us all moving our vehicles to the lot so that P, Q, First, Bates, and 3rd could be plowed….

  6. Anita, those are great ideas! I’m willing to inquire with the Deputy Mayor for Education’s office (and probably OPM) to try and get some insights into the regulations that govern public charter schools. If there are large loopholes here, then we are inviting all sorts of potential issues for the neighborhood, given the number of vacant school buildings being vied for. I imagine DPW would LOVE the idea of residents temporarily utilizing a huge surface lot so that they could properly plow the streets…

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