HPA No. 2014-322 (In re. Duke Ellington School for the Arts)
- HPA Number: 2014-322
- Case Name: In the Matter of: Duke Ellington School for the Arts
- Location of Property: 3500 R Street NW; Square 1293, Lot 803
- Date of Decision: August 18, 2014
- Type of Case/Type of Permit Sought: Demolition
- Disposition: Granted
- Subject Matter(s): Demolition; Special Merit – Community Services; Landmarks
Summary of Decision:
The District of Columbia Department of General Services and the District of Columbia Public Schools (jointly, the "Applicants") applied for a permit to renovate the landmarked Duke Ellington School for the Arts. Portions of the school would be demolished to make room for state-of-the-art theater and performance spaces.
The Applicants went before the Historic Preservation Review Board ("HPRB") twice with revised proposals, and at the latest meeting, the HPRB could not find that the substantial demolition of the auditorium and portions of the back bar was consistent with the purposes of the Act, leaving it to the Mayor's Agent for a determination. The Mayor's Agent concluded that the proposed renovations amounted to a project of special merit because of the unique educational and cultural benefits the new campus would bring, the necessity of the demolition to accomplish those benefits, and the fact that the loss of the historic resources was more than outweighed by the project's benefits.
Special Merit – Community Services:
The Applicants argued at the Mayor's Agent hearing that the renovations promoted important community educational and cultural needs. Based on the evidence produced at the hearing, the Mayor's Agent agreed with the need to construct modern, high quality theater and performance facilities, the inadequacy of existing facilities, and the necessity of demolition to realize the benefits of the project. While several community groups, including the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, expressed concerns, the Mayor's Agent stated that these concerns dealt with non-preservation-related event management issues falling outside the purview of the Mayor's Agent.
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Frederick Douglass Community Improvement Council/Concerned Citizens of Anacostia v. District of Columbia Office of Planning., Historic Preservation Office District of Columbia. Court of Appeals (2015)