The Jackson Art Center (JAC) will remain at its current R Street location next to the Hurt Home until at least the summer of 2016. The center and its neighbors were worried that the lease would not be extended beyond July 2013 because a potential buyer expressed an interest in the site, which is owned by the D.C. Department of General Services (DGS).
The JAC was in the process of negotiating a lease extension with the DGS when the conversations came to a halt. The agency, they learned, had received an inquiry from someone interested in purchasing the property.
So the JAC reached out to the nearby community for help. Neighbors, including Tony Conway, worried that they were facing another Hurt Home situation. During that disposition, many in the community felt that the process was not made public enough and that the sale happened too quickly, according to Conway.
"Having been through what we did at the Hurt Home we wanted to basically … be kept informed in advance," he said.
Conway contacted Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans office to learn if there was a possible buyer and what, if any, input the JAC and neighbors might be able to have on the sales process.
Conway told Patch that within 24 hours he had a response from Evans' office and an assurance that a lease offer was still in the works with DGS.
"That was welcome news to us," said Conway.
Kenneth Diggs, a spokesperson for DGS, told Patch that an interested party did approach his agency about the historic Georgetown property.
"There was someone who inquired, but an inquiry [to DGS] is not an uncommon thing," said Diggs in a phone interview with Patch.
Diggs said the three year extension is fairly close to DGS's standard five-year lease renewal. JAC's initial 15-year lease began in 1998.
"I think it would be nice to see them get a five or 10 or 15 year lease," said Conway.
He would like the building to remain under the operation of the arts center. The block, he said, cannot sustain another condo development largely because of the already very limited parking.
Though there is no deal in the works, it is possible there will be one within the next four years, depending on the level of interest in the property.
Diggs said DGS is required to hold a a public disposition process that would allow the community to provide feedback and that would ultimately have to receive District Council approval.
In response to residents' concerns about a disposition of the property, Diggs said there are "no existing negotiations happening at this time."
The Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commission has the Jackson Art Center as an item on its agenda for the Oct. 1 meeting. Community members who would like to provide input on the lease or possible sale may contact their commissioner in advance of the meeting or attend next Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Georgetown Visitation.
Patch will provide updates on this story as more information becomes available.