Housing Complex

City Offers Up Franklin School for Development

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The Franklin School, located at 13th and K Streets NW

The Franklin School seems destined to become a boutique hotel. It's gorgeous. It's right downtown, almost equi-distance from the convention center and the White House. It looks out across a leafy park.

You can already envision the lobbyists strolling out the front door after dining at whatever celebrity chef-driven bistro ends up there.

Who knows? But it almost happened once. And, it's a real possibility again: the city has issued a request for proposals to redevelop the Franklin School, after making the building available only to charter schools last Spring.

The Franklin School RFP states: "Highly-qualified development teams with experience in planning, financing, building, and operating small to medium scale mixed-use, commercial, hotel, residential, or retail use development projects and experience in working with community stakeholders are strongly encouraged to respond to this RFP."

Homeless advocates have long pushed back against plans to convert the building, which was used as a shelter until last September.

A few months ago, two charter schools applied to move into the Franklin School building, but "we vetted those proposals. We didn't find any of them to be viable," says Sean Madigan, spokesperson for the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

Just yesterday, I wrote about the homeless advocates still pushing to re-open the Franklin School as a shelter. Since the remaining homeless residents were booted out of the building, the Committee to Save Franklin Shelter and former residents filed two lawsuits against the city:  One in D.C. Superior Court, and the  other in federal court. The later suit alleges that the closure of the shelter is part of a larger trend of forcing the city’s homeless to the outer, poorest edges of Washington D.C.


  1. #1

    Watch the program hustlers and the professional homeless promoters howl and yelp.

    But with a half billion dollar two year deficit staring our honest District Councilmembers in the face, maybe they'll do the right thing and allow this property to go back on the tax rolls to help pay the bills.

  2. #2

    Agreed, this is a beautiful historic building that should be given over to hotle or other residential use, hopefully one where people will be free to enter and admire the historic details in the public spaces. While space for the homeless is needed, it makes no sense to utilize a priceless historic resource for that purpose.

  3. #3

    They city should put the Franklin School to an educational use as the building was designed, intended, and used for 150 years before it became a homeless shelter. (See http://theother35percent.blogspot.com/2009/09/flagship-college-or-boutique-hotel.html). Maybe if the city had provided more opportunities for community college programs, technical training, and adult education, homelessness would be less of an issue in DC today.

  4. #4

    Agreed that the DC education system has been awful, but experience and reality teach us that the wackos, losers, and John Hinkleys of this world will always gravitate to DC like moths to a flame. Homeless people will always come to DC and SF. That's just the way it is.

    No matter what we do, homelessness is going to be a problem here, and there's no reason to keep prime real estate off the tax rolls at a time when the District is drowning in debt.

  5. #5

    I basically second everything everyone here has said. I walk by this building every day, and it's criminal to have it sitting empty and undeveloped. We do need homeless shelters in downtown DC, there's no question about that. But this property could generate more tax income for the District- in both property and income taxes- if it were to be turned into residential condos. A homeless shelter just wouldn't be the most efficient, logical use of this gorgeous, historic building.

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