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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Smart Growth Redevelopment of the Watha T. Daniel Library

Check out this intriguing post discussing the redevelopment of the Watha T. Daniel Library. Rob Goodspeed discusses and includes an article by Cheryl Cort, Policy Director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth, on a proposal to redevelop the site with a mix of uses, including a new neighborhood library, retail and affordable housing.

As Rob states, the closed library presents a tremendous opportunity for redevelopment. And although the principles of smart growth are new to some, I think they are essential to viable, socially and environmentally responsible, safe, and vibrant communities.

8 comments:

Rob G said...

Thanks for the link.

richard said...

the current library looks like a prison from the outside and feels like one on the inside. sooner they demolish that fortified bunker called a library the better. the problem is not what the future site will look like but lack library services now.

the georgetown library at wisconsin and R will undergo a $3.5 million renovation delivered in 180 days. now folks THAT is service.

if they're going to do watha correct this time it needs to be moved from that site and placed on a less valuable piece of real estate in the same neighborhood.

Ray said...

WT Daniels library was built after the riots in 1968. It was built as a shelter/bunker and evacuation site for residents to retreat to in the event of further civil disturbances. The small slot windows would allow National Guard to protect residents in the event of a mob attack. As soon as Lanier's surge on Shaw, DC's Sadr City, withdraws, the Lincoln Westmoreland posses will be back on the attach with a vengeance.

Alexander M. Padro said...

We can barely fit a library on this site. Because of the configuration of the lot, no on site parking can be accommodated, and there isn't enough space for two elevators, which would be needed in order to provide a residential entrance. We struggled for months trying to get DCPL to let us have a basement again: the proposal was for a 16,000 square foot building on two levels. We, community residents, Friends of the Watha T. Daniel Library, library advocates, etc., were glad the contracts were cancelled for the previous proposed replacement library because we were going to get a library 2/3 the size of the one we already had. And we had to spend months killing the move to reconsider mixed use development on this site. It's too small. Look elsewhere for your demonstration project. The demolition contract for the current building has been let. Community meetings to discuss the new building's program will begin shortly. DCPL is too much of a dinosaur agency for us to ever hope to get more than the replacement library building that's proposed. And after having my constituents deprived of library services for three years, and it will probably be six years before they get full services again, I will oppose any plans to further delay our new library's construction to allow for further consideration of a mixed use developmet on the site. Anyone who disagrees can expalin to the hundreds of children and seniors who want a library again ASAP why they should have to wait a single extra day to explore mixed use development again.

Alexander M. Padro
Commissioner, ANC 2C01
President, Friends of Watha T. Daniel Library

Shaw Rez said...

Thanks for the response, Alex.

I don't think of this proposal as a "demonstration project" at all. I certainly concede that the property presents some challenges regarding its size, but principles of smart growth are essential to our neigborhood's renewal and to D.C.'s goal of transit oriented development (I mean, this site is ACROSS THE STREET from the metro! It would be a crime not to maximize the use of this property!). If housing is not doable, at very least a retail spot should be workable. Furthermore, I think the "traditional" library concept is no longer the best format for our community in this digital age, so hopefully that consideration is on your group's radar.

For the children and seniors, we are getting a three quarter of a million dollar modular library in front of Shaw Middle School, a block and a half away from the library site, in the near future (fences are up, presumably the facility will arrive soon) to meet our library need. Though I strongly dislike this temporary solution to the lack of library problem, it buys us time so that we don't have to rush to build. DCPL is clearly an ineffective agency, but can we not demand more and better?

Ray said...

There used to be a nice little cluster of non-descript townhouses on the library/bunker site before the 1968 arson and looting. The 1949-1950 Weimer photo collection provides one view of this residential triangle next to one of the more beautiful school buildings in the city, Roosevelt High. The homes were taken by imminent domain. Agree with you Rez that we have to rethink libraries. If full use were made of Shaw Junior High both the library and the long abandoned pool could be reinstalled there and opened to the community.

Ray said...

There used to be a nice little cluster of non-descript townhouses on the library/bunker site before the 1968 arson and looting. The 1949-1950 Weimer photo collection provides one view of this residential triangle next to one of the more beautiful school buildings in the city, Roosevelt High. The homes were taken by imminent domain. Agree with you Rez that we have to rethink libraries. If full use were made of Shaw Junior High both the library and the long abandoned pool could be reinstalled there and opened to the community.

BC said...

Question re: Alex's post:

What does "The demolition contract for the current building has been let" mean? Demolition is scheduled? When? The sooner the better as far as I'm concerned...

And this has probably already been considered, but doesn't Ray's suggestion make sense that Shaw Jr. High might be a good location...they have plenty of unused, ugly paved over space...