- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Condominium sales started this month for the Wormley Row residences, marking the end of 136 years of educational history for a Georgetown landmark building.

Wormley Row is the name chosen by developer Encore Development for the renovated and expanded version of Wormley School, which opened in 1871 as the first school in Washington for black children.

Until now, it has been closely tied to education, first as the brainchild of black entrepreneur James Wormley, later as a D.C. Public Schools building and more recently as a meeting place for Georgetown University.

As the building at 3325 Prospect St. NW fell into disrepair, the university closed it in 1994. After failed attempts to win zoning and community approval for a library and administrative building, university officials sold it for $8.3 million to Encore Development in 2005.

Construction started last summer to turn the building into seven upscale condominiums in the 18,000-square-foot brick schoolhouse and six town houses on the former parking lot and playground.

“When we purchased it, the top two floors had pretty well fallen in and a lot of the roof was unsupported,” said Gary Kirstein, a partner in Bethesda-based Encore Development. “Most of the materials on the inside were pretty rotten and deteriorated.”

The company is spending $32 million on the renovation of the schoolhouse and town houses, a project made more expensive by its listing as part of a historic preservation area in the District.

“Certainly it creates problems as far as construction goes,” Mr. Kirstein said. “It’s much more difficult to restore an old building than build a new one.”

The condominiums will start at $1.3 million for a 1,300-square-foot one-bedroom and go up to $4.3 million for a 4,400-square-foot, four-bedroom duplex. Prices have not been set on the town houses.

To maintain the historical character of the building, Encore Development is keeping the brick exterior, the bell tower in front and large 19th-century windows of the original schoolhouse. However, the structure is being reinforced with steel and concrete, the floors replaced and the east and west side entrances redesigned with new windows and doors.

In other news …

• The site of the former National Association of the Deaf headquarters in Silver Spring is set to be converted to condominiums, according to plans from developer Banneker Ventures LLC. The building at 814 Thayer Ave. is being redesigned for 52 condominiums only blocks from Silver Spring’s “town square.”

Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail tram [email protected]gtontimes.com.

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