Housing Complex

Tenleytown Library Project Moving Forward Despite Fenty Expectations

For years, the Tenleytown community and the city have gone back and forth on how to rebuild a public library shut down in the area in 2004. Mayor Adrian Fenty has advocated for a mixed-use development incorporating in the library. Others have argued to keep the spot quieter and less dense—more of the city -blurring-into-suburbia vibe that Tenleytown has always embodied. As Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher discussed on his blog earlier this year, "The Tenley station is probably the most underdeveloped spot along the more affluent western spur of the Red Line–mainly because of resistance from a relative handful of neighbors who like to pretend they're living 20 miles outside a big city rather than in the heart of one."

In July 2008, the city selected a developer to rebuild on the 3.6-acre Tenley Library site, according to the Washington Business Journal. But this morning's Washington Examiner reveals that whatever plans were in the works, the library's board of trustees has decided to do their own thing.

The library’s board of trustees has instructed Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper to build a new Tenley-Friendship Library “as quickly as possible” to replace the branch that was closed in December 2004, trustee President John Hill said Thursday in a statement.

Hill disclosed the decision during a trustees meeting Wednesday, surprising Tenleytown residents and community leaders who have vehemently opposed Mayor Adrian Fenty’s plans for a mixed-use project at Wisconsin Avenue and Albemarle Street.

“He started out at the top of the meeting saying, very calmly, ‘We’re going to push ahead with our own plans for the library,’ ” Robin Diener, executive director of the D.C. Library Renaissance Project, said of Hill.

“One person just said, ‘Are you kidding? Does [Deputy Mayor] Neil Albert know?’ And Hill said, ‘We’re an independent board.’ Who would’ve thought they would go against the mayor like this?”

Here's what the developer had in mind, according to the July business journal story:

The site, at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Albemarle Street across from the Tenleytown Metro station, includes the demolished 15,000-square-foot Tenley library and a grassy area adjacent to Janney Elementary School. LCOR would incorporate between 120 and 130 units of work force housing above a new library and finance the school’s modernization.

  • in the know

    No, that's not what the developer had in mind. LCOR has always said it wanted 174 units of housing. And that "grassy area adjacent to Janney school" which the apartment building would have covered is the school's soccer field. DMPED press releases (which is essentially what the WBJ has reprinted here and you are quoting) have to be read a little more critically.

    Despite Fisher's assertion, this has never been an argument about density/development. It's an argument about whether public facilities needs should come first on public land. Happily, in this case, at least one of the agencies (DCPL -- but I expect DCPS will ultimately do the same) finally fought back against DMPED's depredations.

    And the Mayor has backed the agency up -- an ANC 3E Commissioner has announced on the local listservs that his Ward 3 Neighborhood Services rep called her Friday afternoon to confirm that the library would be breaking ground in the next few months.

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  • in the know

    There's no such thing as "Tenleytown library's board." DCPL has a Board of Trustees and they've made the decision that the stand-alone project will move ahead. There's not a single entity going back and forth about mixed-use. There are (recurring/changing) factions that want to use the library site/project to advance other agendas and then there are people who just want our library back ASAP.

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