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West End school purchase headed to Planning Commission review

1703 N. Beauregard Street, via Google Maps

Three years after Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School opened in a former West End office (1701 N Beauregard Street), Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) is moving forward with plans to purchase the rest of the office block for eventual conversion into school space.

ACPS is headed to the Planning Commission on Thursday, Sept. 9, to review plans to purchase the office building for conversion into an educational space. What exactly that will entail, though, still remains to be determined. In the short-term, the building could be used as swing space for schools undergoing modernization, but could eventually become its own 600 student school.

According to the staff report:

The property located at 1703 N. Beauregard Street (‘1703’) is a four-story, approximately 82,000 square foot office building constructed in 1998 as part of the Mark Center properties and is currently owned by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). The building sits adjacent to Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School at 1701 and the 500-space shared parking structure at 1705, both of which were purchased in 2017 for the conversion to an educational use.

ACPS is currently exploring the potential conversion of 1703 to an educational use and is seeking the Planning Commission’s finding as to whether the acquisition would be consistent with the City’s Master Plan. As ACPS is still determining the suitability of the property for the intended purpose, City staff does not have a specific proposal to share with the Planning Commission; however, ACPS anticipates the following: in the short-term, space that is currently vacant in 1703 would house ACPS administrative functions; within the next three to ten years, the building would serve as swing space for students during the modernizations of George Mason and Cora Kelly Elementary Schools; and, ultimately, 1703 would be used as a new 600 student school, currently in ACPS’s ten-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and required based on enrollment projections

ACPS said there are currently two leases in place for the current tenants that end in 2027 and 2032. If the property is purchased, ACPS said it would enter into negotiation with the tenants to convert the spaces for the proposed use over time.

The staff report included an endorsement of the ACPS plan by city staff as in-keeping with a need to expand the traditional idea of school spaces.

“The proposed purchase is in keeping with recommendations made in the Long Range Educational Facilities Plan, endorsed by City Council in June 2015, which include “Consider retrofitting an existing commercial building” and “Consider an urban school model” for new schools, and is supported by the successful previous conversion of 1701 N. Beauregard Street to an educational use.

Photo via Google Maps

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