AU submitted its finalized 2011 Campus Plan to the D.C. Zoning Commission for Main Campus additions March 18.
The University did not submit finalized plans for the Washington College of Law’s proposed move to Tenley Campus to the commission because it wants to work with members of the community — a result of “good faith” discussions between the two parties, according to David Taylor, AU’s chief of staff.
The plan is largely similar to the draft plan submitted in late January except for the addition of a new residence hall behind the President’s Office Building.
AU added that residence hall after community members said it was a desirable place for development.
The Zoning Commission must approve the Campus Plan before the University can start building. Hearings are expected to start in June. Universities in D.C. must submit plans for future development to the Zoning Commission every 10 years.
Monday’s plan increases the proposed number of total beds on campus to 4,326 and raises the square footage to 892,000 after adding a 200-bed apartment-style residence hall behind the President’s Office Building.
The Campus Plan also proposes:
• A new East Campus located on the Nebraska Parking Lot
• A new South Hall dorm near the current South side buildings
• Moving the Washington College of Law to the Tenley Campus
• Additions to the Beeghly Building, the Kay Spiritual Life Center, Nebraska Hall and the Mary Graydon Center.
MGC, Nebraska, East Campus and Tenley Campus construction would cost about $280 million, according to Jorge Abud, assistant vice president for Facilities Development and Real Estate.
About $120 million will be spent on renovations to the McKinley Building and other sites that do not require separate Zoning Commission approval, according to AU spokeswoman Camille Lepre.
The East Campus, a major sticking point between the local residents and AU, did not see any major changes in the finalized plan.
Neighbors say they aren’t opposed to AU building more residence halls — they have encouraged AU to keep more students on campus — but they don’t want housing on the present site of the Nebraska Parking Lot, which borders the Westover Place townhouses.
“We’ve disagreed from meeting one, day one,” Taylor said of the plan to put housing on the parking lot. “A total 100 percent disagreement.”
The Neighbors for a Livable Community, a group of community members concerned about AU’s proposed development, hired an urban planner to look at alternative housing sites besides the Nebraska Parking Lot, according to group member Dave Fehrmann.
The alternative sites for dorms identified by the Neighbors for a Livable Community plan were behind the President’s Office Building; near Clark, Roper and McCabe halls; at the top and bottom of the amphitheater; connected to Hughes Hall; on the “beach” near McKinley; between Centennial and Asbury; and near the Public Safety Building.
The Neighbors for a Livable Community plan proposes AU use the Nebraska Parking Lot for alumni, administrative, classroom and admissions buildings, rather than residence halls.
The proposed development on the President’s Office Building site comes directly from the Neighbors for a Livable Community plan, Taylor said.
The President’s Office Building site was included on the 2001 Campus Plan, Abud said, but strict Zoning Commission conditions caused AU to abandon the idea.
But now that it’s a spot both AU and the community agree on, the University will try again, Taylor said.
“If housing’s a priority, we want to go for it as much as we can,” he said.
Over the last 20 months, AU and the community have argued over the WCL’s proposed move to Tenley, residence halls in the Nebraska Parking Lot and the Dunblane House.
In both AU- and community-sponsored meetings, tempers have run high as neighbors fought to keep dorms from butting up against their property.
At recent Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3D meetings, which oversees Main Campus and the surrounding neighborhood where the East Campus would be, residents and commissioners wore “OPPOSE AU Plan” buttons.
The lack of changes to the East Campus reflects these problems.
“It’s been difficult and challenging to design the East Campus for housing if a chunk of folks we’re dealing with do not want to talk to us about housing,” Taylor said. “So whereas input that could have been constructive, helpful and maybe get us a little bit closer to shades of gray, we haven’t been able to get there on that. That’s just reality.”
But conversations with ANC 3E, which oversees the Tenley Campus and the nearby area, have gone much better, Taylor said.
“The level of detailed discussion we’ve been able to have with 3E, to an extent we’ve not been able to have with 3D,” Taylor said.
Because of it, AU decided against razing the Dunblane House on Tenley Campus as a “concession” to those neighbors.
Originally, only Capital Hall would be saved because of its age, according to Taylor.
AU doubts the current Dunblane House has historical value, as it was “basically gutted” by a fire 15 years ago, Taylor said.
“We could make use of it,” Abud said.