2006-12-04, 11:00

Mixed use and the arts in D.C.

By: Jonathan Groner
The Corcoran Gallery of Art has just purchased the old Randall School in Southwest D.C. from the District government in order to develop an arts and residential mixed-use project in an interesting but somewhat marginal part of town.

The place is quite dilapidated and hasn't been used as a school since 1978. The building is nearly 100 years old. Part has been used as a homeless shelter lately, and part for artists' studios. But now, the Corcoran will find 80,000 new square feet of studio, exhibition, and classroom space, and there will be at least 200 residential units, at least 40 of which will be affordable housing.

Earlier this decade, the Corcoran launched an unsuccessful expansion project at its main site, near the White House. This $6.2 million purchase will provide it with new space, and the District government will use the new money to improve its schools. And the District's share of profits from the residential development will be used to improve homeless shelters.

The residences in this building at Half and I Streets, S.W., ought to be attractive to artists and people who enjoy the arts. Mixed use here means not residential plus retail, but residential plus studio plus exhibition space. A good result for a neighborhood that will no doubt see dramatic improvement soon.

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