A two story red brick building with boarded up windows.
AgnosticPreachersKid / Wikimedia Commons

On Sept. 22 at a community meeting at Bethesda Baptist Church in Northeast, two land developers and the non-profit agency Empower DC presented proposals to D.C.’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Development about how to develop the historic and currently vacant Crummell School. The school, named after educator Alexander Crummell, was built in the Ivy City neighborhood of Northeast in 1911 to educate African-American children.

The two commercial developers, Trammell Crowe and Ivy City Partners, proposed developing some of the site for community re-use while using some of it for mixed-income housing and retail services, according to their websites. Empower DC proposed developing the land and building exclusively for community re-use, which includes low-income housing.

Trammell Crow’s online presentation says it would devote some space to parks and open space. Their plan also includes a 230-unit apartment building, a YMCA facility offering senior and day care services, and a New Mary’s Center that would have medical, dental, mental health and educational facilities for all income levels including those without any money. Trammell’s proposal includes 88 senior affordable housing units for those in the 40 to 60 percent Area Median Income (AMI) bracket and 318 units of multi-family housing, 105 or 33 percent of which would be affordable to those in the 40 to 60 percent AMI bracket.

Trammell officials had community meetings to get input and report in their proposal that they used 12 of the 15 most-often suggested items in their plan. Finally, they would have a retail-focused workforce program with Goodwill.

Ivy City Partners would provide space for recreational and community use, open space, plus some space for industrial use. They would also have mixed-income housing and job training connected with retail stores.

Ivy City Partners’ plan makes it clear that the community would determine the programs offered at the center. It would definitely include day care, a health clinic, a recreational facility, job training and a culinary school.

Empower DC’s Executive Director Parisa Norouzi said in an e-mail that the School building and one acre of the site would become part of a Community Land Trust that would be the first of its kind in the District. They propose one acre of green space, which is the most of any of the proposals.

All housing proposed by Empower DC would be for lower income people, Norouzi’s communication said. They propose to build 120 units of low-cost housing, 10 percent of which would be permanent supportive housing for people coming out of homelessness, including those with no income. Twenty percent would be for those earning only 30 percent or less of AMI and the rest for families at or below 60 percent of  AMI. There wouldn’t be any housing for high income people. All housing would be accessible to people who have housing vouchers.

Empower’s proposal offers a Community of Hope health clinic that will serve low-income families, including those without insurance, and children with special needs. A clinic currently in Ward 5 that is closing because of planned development, the Family Health and Birth Center, would be moved to the Crummell School site.

There would also be a retail outlet offering cheap household items, furniture and building supplies, run by DC Habitat for Humanity and called a ReStore, according to Empower DC materials. There would be an indoor sports and recreation facility open to the community, the Empower DC materials say.

Norouzi pointed out that most of the available housing in Ivy City is single family homes and small four-unit apartment buildings. Those who cannot afford rents as they rise may not be able to stay in the neighborhood without these new proposed low-cost apartments; Norouzi wants to absorb as many of them as they can.

To make it all happen, Empower DC has secured a philanthropic commitment of as much as $10 million, Norouzi said.

A spokesman for the deputy mayor’s office said in an e-mail that his office wouldn’t comment on proposals that are under active consideration, but that the deputy mayor would be making a choice by November.