Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Wormley Property Sold for $8M

University administrators said in June that the Wormley School, the dilapidated Prospect Street property that Georgetown purchased in 1997 for use as an academic or administrative building, has been sold to a local real estate agency for over $8 million.

The purchasing company, Encore Development Corporation based in Bethesda, Md., intends to reconstruct the Wormley building into condominiums and to build townhouses on the remaining property, including the school’s old playground and parking lot.

Georgetown made the decision to put the property up for sale in January, saying that it had no immediate plans to use the building in its campus development efforts. Some local advocacy groups had strongly opposed the university’s earlier efforts to develop and expand the Wormley building into the headquarters of the Public Policy Institute or storage for the library’s special collections.

“We were never able to move forward on those plans for variety of reasons and the property no longer met our long-term needs,” university spokeswoman Julie Bataille said.

Georgetown paid $1.5 million for the Wormley property in 1997, and its sale for almost $8.3 million represents nearly a $7 million return for the university.

“Encore was the highest bidder and had the best financial background to meet their bid,” Bataille said.

Encore is involved in high-end residential and commercial development, including luxury apartments, custom homes and land development, in and around the Washington, D.C., area.

“We’re a local company that’s been around for years,” Encore President Gary A. Kirstein said, adding that he was attracted to the rarity of the Wormley property and “the lovely students next door.”

“It’s a great location,” he said. “It’s unusual to find a half-acre in Georgetown with development possibilities.”

Kirstein said construction may begin by next summer.

But before any construction can take place, the corporation must seek the approval of a local historic preservation board and obtain a rezoning permit that will allow them to change the building from a school to a residence.

Since the Wormley School is in the Georgetown Historic District it cannot be demolished.

Encore has yet to present a plan before the board or get rezoning approval, but the company plans to soon, Kirstein said.

Ed Solomon, chairman of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission of District 2E, which includes the Georgetown, Burleith and Hillandale neighborhoods, said that the commission currently does not have an opinion about the sale or Encore’s plans for developing the property.

“There is no position of the ANC,” he said, noting that a formal position cannot be taken by the Commission until after the developers present the idea to the preservation board.

In the past, the ANC has opposed an expansion of the building and some members have had reservations about using it as a residential space that would increase “traffic and nocturnal noise.”

Solomon said that the only potential questions that area residents may raise are “general concerns,” such as availability of parking for an increased volume of people and the number of condominiums to be built.

Bataille said that the sale will allow the university to expand in the future.

“The sale of this property obviously benefits the university financially and offers us the ability to pursue other development opportunities that better meet our current and future needs,” she said.

Named after a D.C. hotel owner, the Wormley School for the Colored was built in 1885 and remained segregated until 1952.

It was used as a school for disabled and handicapped students until 1994, when it was closed and all students were sent elsewhere.

The Washington Post reported that students were relocated “because of mold contamination and peeling lead paint on window frames.”

The building is now condemned and the buyers have not yet been allowed to enter.

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