District to Restart Boys and Girls Club RFP

Community Meetings with Hilleast Start in Early 2017

The Boys and Girls Club building at 261 17th St. SE. (Photo: Google)

The District plans to restart the process to redevelop the shuttered Boys and Girls Club (261 17th St. SE) in Ward 6’s Hilleast community, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen’s office announced Oct. 20.

Community meetings to help plan the Request for Proposal (RFP) on the project will start in January or February of 2017, according to the Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED). DMPED will use the District’s new Our RFP model, which incorporates community input into the creation of the RFP and ensures engagement before developers get involved. The resulting RFP is slotted for release to potential bidders during Mayor Muriel Bowser’s “March Madness” RFP event.

“I am hopeful we can work together to create something that honors its history and also becomes a part of Hill East’s future,” Councilmember Allen said.

DMPED Takes Over Property from DGS 

Allen called the use of the Our RFP model a way to make sure a strong neighborhood voice comes through from the outset, which did not happen in the previous RFP that failed in 2014.

“This is a project that has needed a jumpstart. A vacant and deteriorating building doesn’t do the community any good,” he said. “We need an active space that brings this building back to life.”

The club closed in 2007 because of costs and low enrollment, and the District acquired the 30,000-square-foot building in 2010. A previous RFP process started in 2014, but was shut down at the request of Allen, the community and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) for failing to adequately address residents’ requests. In September, Mayor Bowser announced her plan to readdress the site during a walkthrough of the Hill East community.

With this new plan, DMPED will take over the process from the DC Department of General Services (DGS). ANC Commissioner Dan Ridge (6B09) said he's hopeful this switch will allow for the District to offer a lease longer than the previously proposed 25 years. 

“My neighbors asked for ‘Our RFP’ by name,” Ridge said. “I could not be more glad about this move.” 

What the Community Hopes for This Time

The community around the Boys and Girls Club has long waited for this redevelopment, said former ANC 6B Commissioner Francis Campbell. He was on the ANC in that single member district (SMD) during the last RFP process.

“I think it’s a great thing. The neighborhood has changed over the years since the closure of the club,” Campbell said. “There are considerably more children as well as seniors in the neighborhood who would find this club as a community amenity to be very beneficial.”

But he said he doesn’t want to see more market-rate housing come out of this project because so many houses in the area have skyrocketed out of affordability in recent years. He also remains wary of the likely high cost of redeveloping a building that has deteriorated for many years.

He has questions about the project’s future, but he believes putting this building back into use can only benefit the surrounding community.