Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The other facilities bill

The schools modernization bill up for vote today isn't the only way DC may try to solve its school facilities problem. Although not as high profile as the billion dollar bill this other method may actually be cheaper and more effective.
So D.C. officials want to make a deal: The developers would build new libraries, schools and maybe even police stations, and get the privilege of putting condominiums or shops on top of or alongside them.

Proponents say developers could pay now for amenities the city wouldn't fund for years, if ever, and developers would get scarce city space for housing -- mostly high-end, but some affordable.

With the costs of fixing schools and libraries estimated at close to $2 billion, said D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, "I don't believe we can tax our way out."

Even as the District and federal governments are considering proposals to increase funding to rebuild libraries and schools, Cropp (D) has introduced a bill to launch private redevelopment of some of those facilities as a way to bring in corporate dollars and move projects more quickly through the pipeline. The approach is being used increasingly to renovate libraries in other cities but remains rare on public school campuses.

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