WASHINGTON, DC-The 21st Century School Fund, a nonprofit based here, facilitated a partnership between the District of Columbia Public Schools and LCOR Inc., a national real estate firm. The public/private partnership resulted in the construction of the first new public school in this city in the last two decades. The revenue for the school will be generated by a privately owned apartment building.
LCOR acquired land that was originally part of the school site through trade. The company got the land and with the revenue that will be generated from rent in the $29-million, 211-unit building, will repay the DCPS. An $11-million, 35-year tax-exempt bond package issued by the District paid for the school construction costs and LCOR will repay it in its entirety.
The 47,158 sf school is a state-of-the-art dual language (Spanish/English) immersion facility. Located at Calvert and 29th Streets, NW in the Woodley Park neighborhood, it features a computer lab, library, gym, classrooms and offices for after-school programs.
A joint venture of LCOR and Northwestern Mutual Life will own the apartment building on the land adjacent to the school. LCOR will manage the building, which will feature one- and two-bedroom units. Spokespeople for LCOR describe the building as “elegant” and say it will be called the Henry Adams House. It will open this fall.DCPS superintendent Paul L. Vance said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, “The Oyster School reconstruction is a giant first step forward in our system-wide facility modernization program. It is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when the whole community, including parents, local school staff, the neighborhood, the private sector, nonprofits and government all work together.”
LCOR vice president R. William Hard praised the school and city for “embracing the innovative financing plan that made the new school possible, and for accepting the rewards and trade-offs that accompany public/private partnership.
“Leadership is required to bring public/private partnerships to life, and District officials demonstrated as much with their commitment to this project,” he continued, “including their willingness to unlock the value of an underutilized asset–in this case, land.”
Executive director of 21st Century School Fund Mary Filardo said, “Beginning in 1992, this community had the vision, determination and dedication needed to make this partnership work. While public/private development partnerships are not a cure-all for the lack of public school construction funds, they will continue to be an important mechanism for generating revenue and contributing to economic growth. They’re also helpful in building momentum toward more sustainable, comprehensive capital improvement programs.”
The principal of the Oyster School, Paquita Holland, noted, “The old building was a barrier to providing Oyster’s diverse educational experience, including dual-language immersion program, special education, physical education, arts and other programs. The new building is a dream come true for our students, teachers and program.”