What’s Up with the International Graduate University

Will the old Buchanan School at 13th and E Sts SE finally be put to good use?

The barren campus of the International Graduate Univeristy in the old Buchanan School. Photo: Melissa Ashabranner

On November 13, 2012 Dr. Walter Boek passed away leaving in limbo the future of the controversial International Graduate University, located on a sprawling campus at 14th & D St SE. Dr Boek bought the school as surplus property from the DC Control board for $1.5 million in 1998 and served as its President until his death. IGU was dedicated to running educational programs with some modest success until IGU lost its temporary teaching certification and tax exempt status in 2009. IGU never was considered a university because it lacked accreditation. IGU is on the site of the old Buchanan school located adjacent to the Watkins complex.

IGU sits on a huge chunk of land (92,899 sf) and has been little used these past few years. Currently it is assessed by the District at $10.7 million. There have been no tax payments on the property since lost its tax exempt status three years ago. There is a current tax bill dating to and including 2010 of over $685,000 which includes penalties and interest. Boek’s 17 acre home in NW which was once listed as the Presidents House for IGU was similarly removed from its tax exempt status and currently is deficient in property taxes over the same period to the tune of $55,382.96.

Among the obvious uses for this space, other than more commercial/residential development which would be complicated by zoning issues, are as an educational facility. Rumors abound in the nearby community that Appletree Institute, which currently operates seven campuses in the District and has built an excellent reputation for pre-school learning, is looking to expand to this vast campus.

One neighbor Mary Case reports that the building is “just sitting there,” as she gives credit to Boek for “stabilizing ” the property and adds that it has been recently “outfitted for use for small children.” There was considerable controversy when Appletree opened a school near Lincoln Park a number of years ago; primarily the issues were zoning and how drop-off parking would impact the residential community.

Reached for comment, Thomas Keane, Chief of Strategic Initiatives and General Counsel for Appletree responded: “We have discussions all the time with folks and we don’t comment until they are public.” Mr. Kean was emphatic that whatever Appletree did, and wherever, the plan would immediately be taken to the community.

Attempts to reach staff and IGUs current Chair of its Board of Governors, Clinton Chapman, for a comment were unsuccessful. 

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