The Grimke School had certainly seen better days. Built in 1887, what began as an elementary school eventually turned into government offices, then headquarters for the DC Department of Fire and Emergency Services and Department of Corrections. Falling into disrepair, the building was vacated in 2013, but by then the District government was 5 years into a drawn-out process to select a developer for the site. After a scrum of community involvement and District guidelines, the development team of Community Three / Torti Gallas was selected to perform the renovation.
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The District government awarded developers a 99 year lease on the building, and in October of 2019 Community Three / Torti Gallas ceremonially broke ground with a plan to restore the original school. The deal also included a fee simple sale of the parking lot, on which Community Three has built a 30-story condo project called the Fold, at the corner of 9 1/2 and U Streets. The developer will break ground next year on another project to turn the former gym into another 38 units of housing. The revitalized school will offer 45,000 s.f. of office space, 3,000 s.f. of retail, and deliver 16,000 s.f. of "municipal" space. An agreement was reached early to house the African American Civil War Museum in 12,000 s.f., and earlier this year Torti Gallas, the project architect, announced that it will move a "substantial" portion of its Maryland-based practice to the school when the project completes next year.
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