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Councilmember Mary M. Cheh
Councilmember Kwame Brown
Letter supporting development of Tenley Branch Library and Janney Elementary School
June 6, 2007




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June 6, 2007

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty
District of Columbia
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Mayor Fenty:

We are writing to express our support for the concept of a public-private partnership (PPP) to concurrently rebuild the Tenley Branch Library and modernize Janney Elementary School. As you are aware, Roadside Development has presented a PPP concept to area residents that we believe provides significant value-added to these public projects and to the community at large. The PPP would:

  • permit the library to build on a bigger site than available currently;
  • provide underground parking to the library and the school;
  • allow Janney modernization to proceed well in advance of its currently estimated 2013 start date;
  • add approximately 120 housing units to the property tax rolls;
  • exemplify transit-oriented development, as the site sits at a metro stop; and
  • provide an opportunity to develop affordable housing in a neighborhood with very few affordable units.

The Roadside concept calls for a transfer of 11,000 square feet of DCPS land through sale or long-term least, on which the library, underground parking and residential units would partially sit. However, by relocating the Janney parking spaces underground, the school will gain 11,700 square feet for green space and other uses. Roadside estimates the public financial benefit of the land transfer and the resulting increase in property tax revenues (amortized over a 20-year period) would total more than $16 million, although the addition of unsubsidized affordable housing units or other public amenities could impact that value.

It is important to note, however, that a decision to enter into a PPP must be made in the nearest future in order to keep the library project from being delayed in any significant way. The programming and design phase of the library project is scheduled to being this summer, and construction could begin as early as July 2008. The Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development has assigned a Project Manager to assess the feasibility of a PPP on the Tenley-Janney site, and this is an important first step; however, we recommend that a decision be made quickly to proceed with the project, and that two important community concerns be considered.

First, we recommend that, to the extent feasible, a competitive process be used, and urge you to begin the process as quickly as possible to allow it to occur without delay of the library project. If it is determined that a sole-source award is appropriate, we advise you to address community concerns about such an approach and clearly communicate the compelling reasons for such an award.

Second, although affordable housing units are not currently included as an element in the Roadside concept, we urge the D.C. Government to make this a requisite component of any PPP project on the site.

In closing, we feel that a public-private partnership is an exciting opportunity to realize the needs of Janney Elementary School and the Tenley Branch Library while creating real value-added for the neighboring community and the city as a whole. Such a project will provide a better library, a quicker modernization of the school, and a more efficient land use of a valuable metro-accessible location. We look forward to working with your office to realize this potential.

Councilmember Mary M. Cheh
Councilmember Kwame Brown

cc: Neil Albert
Victor Reinoso
Ginnie Cooper
Harriet Tregoning

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