HPRB Denies DC Prep’s Application for New Building

A sign on a chain-link fence on W Street SE announces the HPRB hearing. Photo: John Muller.

On February 26 the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) denied the second attempt by local development team Four Points and charter school DC Prep to construct a new 3-story building on a series of vacant lots on W Street SE within Historic Anacostia.

Plans to erect a prospective elementary and junior high school at 1234 W Street SE, 

across the street from Union Temple Baptist Church will not be moving forward for the foreseeable future based on uniform opposition to the project.

HPRB members and Tim Dennee of the Historic Preservation Office who has been writing staff reports on Anacostia for 14 years, took issue with a number of aspects of the proposal including: building materials, setbacks on W Street, lot depth and the need to sub-divide the lots. Oppositional testimony was offered by local residents Shareema Houston, Greta Fuller and 8A Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Tina Fletcher. Fletcher, a former teacher at Anacostia High School, expressed concern with the number of schools in the immediate area -- Orr Elementary on Minnesota Avenue, Ketcham Elementary at 15th & Good Hope Road, Kramer Middle School at 17th & Q Street and Savoy Elementary on Shannon Place -- and the fact that many of them are under-enrolled. 

Additionally, a letter was received from the DC Preservation League which opposed the "monotony" of the design and suggested the applicant “re-evaluate" the current design. 

HPRB member and resident of Historic Anacostia Charles Wilson spoke about the application in the larger context and conditions of the neighborhood. “Anacostia is in dire straits,” Wilson said. Alluding to the recent facade collapse at 1909 -1913 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, Wilson offered, “The neighborhood is falling apart, brick-by-brick.” He also censured the architect of DC Prep for asserting there had been a “dialogue” with the neighborhood. “The dialogue has been with this Board and not the neighborhood,” said Wilson. 

Before members of HPRB voted unanimously to deny the application on the grounds that the current design and size of the building was not compatible with the Anacostia Historic District, Chair Gretchen Pfaehler praised the commitment of DC Prep and Four Points to the betterment of Ward 8. 

DC Prep Anacostia Elementary Campus to Open in Fall 2015

Despite the setback by HPRB, DC Prep is still planning to open its Anacostia Elementary Campus at 1102 W Street SE this fall in a series of portable classrooms. DC Prep's AEC will open serving preschool and pre-k (3 and 4-year old) and then add a class each year up to third grade. Anticipated enrollment will be an estimated 150 students, with the majority of children served coming from the immediate neighborhood. In testimony before HPRB, DC Prep stated that they had received over 180 applications from Ward 8 students to attend their Anacostia Campus next year, 38 of which currently reside in ANC 8A.

AEC plans to offer early childhood programs consistent with DC Prep’s existing model to create a learning environment that sets a strong foundation for “Preppies” to excel from the earliest years. Based on DC CAS assessment results, DC Prep is presently the highest-performing network of public charter schools citywide for three consecutive years, and currently serves preschool through 8th grade students in Wards 5 and 7.

For more information on DC Prep and its enrollment process, visit www.dcprep.org or call 202-635-4590 ext. 200.


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