Ivy City residents have long been on record that their desire is to see the Alexander Crummell School restored and reopened as a community center to serve the residents of Ivy City and surrounding communities. The neighborhood lacks indoor and outdoor recreation and play space and programs for youth. While the city’s youth detention center looms over the community perched on Mt Olivet Rd, children in Ivy City have no after school programs or opportunities to stay out of the street.
Decades of advocacy on the part of the Ivy City residents is reflected in the city’s planning documents. The Comprehensive Plan, DC’s guiding planning document states:
UNE-24 Pg. 24-19 Action UNE-2.1.C 2411.11 136
A high priority should be given to the rehabilitation of the historic Crummell School with a mix of uses for community benefit such as workforce/affordable housing, job training, or meeting space.
Action UNE-2.1.C: Crummell School Reuse
Rehabilitate the historic Crummell School for a community benefit use, such as adult education, a trade school, or art studio space.
In 2013, through the federally-funded Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the DC Department of Housing and Community Development and National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) conducted a jobs survey in Ivy City and Trinidad and released findings which underscored the great need for workforce development opportunities in the area.
Key findings included:
The top barriers to employment were identified as:
According to the US Census of 2000, tract 88.03 which encompasses Ivy city reported severe poverty and unemployment conditions including:
44% poverty rate
36% unemployment rate
25% without High School diploma
DC’s Ward 5 has the third highest unemployment rate in the city, after Wards 8 and 7.
When surveyed about their top priorities for neighborhood improvements, residents responded in order of priority:
Recreation/after school programs for youth
Better schools and libraries
More/better Police protection to decrease crime and drug activity
There are currently no recreation centers, workforce development, training or educational centers in Ivy City or the immediately surrounding areas. There are, however, several communities of people who would benefit from such programs, including:
returning citizens (the community houses half-way houses)
youth housed at the Dept. of Youth Services Center on Mt. Olivet Rd
Section 8 residents of the Ivy City Apartments and elsewhere
The homeless residents of the New York Ave Shelter
Young people who are currently not in school
Yet the community continues to suffer from lack of investment and lack of political will to restore the cherished landmark building and serve the well documented needs of the community. Mayor Gray signed an agreement allowing Union Station to park tour buses at the Crummell site. That plan was blocked through a lawsuit and community action brought by residents with Empower DC, more information about which is available here.
The DC Council allocated some funds towards the stabilization of the historic structure and renovation for use as a community center in the DC budget. That money was later stripped out by Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Council, claiming that an upcoming Request for Proposals (RFP) for a public-private partnership on the site would be pursued instead.
Friends of Crummell School was launched to ensure that the outcome of any development of the site is in keeping with the vision and the needs of the Ivy City community.
In 2013, the community worked with architecture firm Stoiber & Associates to envision a redevelopment of the Crummell School site which would serve the needs of the community while allowing some private development. The result of that effort is embodied in the report below.