The future of the Southwest branch library site is one of the issues that have come up during the Southwest Neighborhood Plan process, which has been underway since last summer. Over $8 million in funding was in the 2012 budget to make substantial renovations to the existing building through 2018, which was built in the 1960s. A mini-makeover was done to the space in 2011.
The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the Office of Planning are pushing for a plan to include a new Southwest library as a component of a mixed use building on a 4th Street parcel the city owns at Waterfront Station. The city has been building several new or substantially renovated libraries recently – mostly as standalone buildings; however, a library in a mixed-use building is planned in the West End and there are plans to potentially put a non-library addition in the flagship MLK library downtown. Theoretically, the current library site would be sold to a developer and a high-rise residential building placed on the site. Moving the library to 4th Street would give it a more prominent location in the neighborhood, but if located on the first floor, it could replace precious retail space planned along 4th.
|Locations of existing and proposed library sites.|
Meanwhile, community leaders are calling for a standalone library at its current site, located at Wesley Place and K Street. For instance, in an open letter to the mayor in January, the CBCC called for a standalone library. During the Mayoral and Ward 6 Council forums, most of the candidates stated their preference for a standalone library when asked by the moderator. Some of the new, standalone libraries built in recent years include those in Bellevue, Anacostia, and Deanwood, while others that are architecturally significant have been substantially renovated, such as those in Petworth, Georgetown, and Northeast. A playground is planned (and mostly funded) at the park next door to the current library and would create synergy between the two spaces.
Do you prefer a standalone SW branch library in its current location or one in a mixed use building on 4th Street? Vote in the poll on the left sidebar of the blog and/or leave a comment.