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ANC to vote on Whitman-Walker project

Redevelopment of Taylor building sought



Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center, gay news, Washington Blade
Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center, gay news, Washington Blade

A rendering of the proposed redevelopment of the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center.

The Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission, ANC 2F, was scheduled to vote Wednesday night on whether to accept a recommendation by one of its committees that Whitman-Walker Health scale back the size of its proposed redevelopment of the site of its Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center at 14th and R St., N.W.

Last week, Whitman-Walker and its partner in the joint venture project, Fivesquares Development, released details for plans to convert the site into a 155,000-square-foot, six-story structure that would include retail shops and restaurants on the ground floor, underground parking, 60,000 square feet of office space, and at least 80 residential apartments.

Whitman-Walker, which would retain majority ownership rights in the project, would use about half of the office space for its community health programs, according to Whitman-Walker spokesperson Shawn Jain. Whitman-Walker would use its share of the revenue generated by the project to sustain and help finance its longstanding mission as a community health center with a special outreach to the LGBT community, Whitman-Walker officials have said.

ANC 2F member Kevin Deeley, who chairs the ANC’s Community Development Committee, told the Washington Blade that after receiving a presentation on April 27 from representatives of Whitman-Walker and Fivesquares Development, the committee adopted a resolution with recommendations that it was to present to the full ANC meeting on May 4.

Deeley said the committee’s resolution supports the overall design concept and endorses the project’s plans for the historic preservation of the Elizabeth Taylor building and a separate building on the site. Whitman-Walker purchased the existing buildings and surrounding land in the early 1990s before the 14th Street, N.W. corridor exploded into the bustling entertainment, retail and upscale residential destination it has become.

“They approved the general concept with a few reservations,” Deeley said of the ANC committee. “They thought the concept was a little too monolithic,” he said, adding that the committee would like the project to be “somewhat less massive” in size.

Since the project was designed to be within the size and height limits mandated by the city’s zoning restrictions for that section of the city, Whitman-Walker and the developer do not need to apply for a zoning variance from the D.C. Board of Zoning.

What they do need is the approval of the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board, which is charged with making sure all new buildings in historic districts, such as the 14th Street district, are designed in a way that they respect and preserve the character of the district “without exactly duplicating” nearby existing buildings, according to a HPRB pamphlet.

Under D.C. law, city agencies must give “great weight” to ANC recommendations, but the agencies, not the ANCs, make the final decision on a proposed project such as Whitman-Walker’s.

Andy Altman, managing partner of Fivesquares Development, who attended the ANC committee meeting on April 27, said he was pleased with the committee’s response to the project.

“I actually thought it was a very positive meeting,” he said. “I thought it was a good discussion. I thought the people were very supportive.”

Altman said his development firm, Whitman-Walker officials and nationally known architect Annabelle Selldorf of New York, who designed the proposed new structure, will take into consideration all comments and suggestions by ANC 2f and the Historic Preservation Review Board, which he said has already been given copies of the plans for the redevelopment project.

“There are modifications that can be made to this design,” Altman said. “I think we’ll wait to get all the comments from the preservation office and the preservation review board and then look at what changes to make at that point,” he said.

“I think the fundamentals of the project in terms of its historic buildings and the way of the architect’s concepts are very, very strong,” Altman said.



Prince George’s County library system launches banned book club

First discussion to take place in Hyattsville on June 14



(Bigstock photo)

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System has launched its Rock Banned Book Club.

The club will feature monthly discussions of the 13 top banned books from 2022, most of which focus on LGBTQ-specific themes. 

The club’s first discussion, which will take place at the Hyattsville Branch Library on June 14, will be on “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe. 

Kobabe’s memoir won the 2020 American Library Association Alex Award and recounts Kobabe’s exploration of gender identity and sexuality through adolescence and adulthood. According to the American Library Association, the book faced the most censorship challenges of any novel at 151.

“We’re seeing nationally the highest rate of challenges to books in libraries since the data has been collected by the American Library Association,” Nicholas Brown, acting co-chief executive officer of the library, said. “I think what happens with all of the discourse around book banning is that, oftentimes, not everyone participating in that discourse is actually taking the time to read the full works and discuss them and understand where the author might be coming from and whose stories are being reflected in these books.”

Along with the book club, the library system is hosting a Pride celebration at the Hyattsville branch on Saturday from 12 – 4 p.m. It will feature a panel discussion, vogue and runway workshops, free HIV testing and more. 

The library system will host its second annual Rainbow Festival on June 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bowie Branch Library with family-friendly events like craft stations, story time and a live DJ. In April, the library system won a Top Innovator Award from the Urban Libraries Council for its banned books campaign.

“I think a lot of folks don’t always realize that your local public library is kind of the front line of democracy and we always have been,” Brown said. “Public libraries across the country are very united on this and if the right to read continues to be under threat like it’s been, it is not a good time for the state of our democracy.”

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District of Columbia

Bowser: No credible threats to D.C. Pride events

Mayor spoke with the Blade after flag-raising ceremony at the Wilson Building



D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at the flag-raising of the Progress Pride flag at the Wilson Building in D.C. on June 1, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday said authorities have not received any credible threats to upcoming Pride events.

“We don’t have any to report,” she told the Washington Blade.

“MPD is constantly working with all of our agencies to make sure we have safe special events and we’re going to keep going with our planning, like we do every year,” added Bowser. “There’s always a scan for any threats to the District.”

Bowser spoke with the Blade after she joined D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Council members Anita Bonds, Charles Allen, Kenyon McDuffie and Zachary Parker, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, D.C. Mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs Office Director Japer Bowles and other officials and activists in raising the Progress Pride flag in front of the Wilson Building.

The Blade last month reported D.C. police are investigating a bomb threat a Twitter user made against the annual District Pride concert that will take place at the Lincoln Theater on June 29. Bowles in a May 19 statement said his office reported the tweet, but further stressed that “no credible threat at this time has been made.”

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Moore issues Pride month proclamation

Governor on May 3 signed Trans Health Equity Act



Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Thursday proclaimed June as Pride month in recognition of  “the contributions, resilience, courage and joy of LGBTQIA+ Marylanders,” according to a press release.

“In Maryland, we lead with love and inclusion. I want everyone in our LGBTQIA+ community to know that they deserve to be seen for who they are, and our administration will stand with them in the fight for equality and equity,” Moore said. “We need to elevate the stories, embrace the courage, and celebrate the humanity of our LGBTQIA+ community — and as long as I am governor, we will take the steps forward to protect and celebrate all Marylanders.”

Moore on March 31 became the first governor in Maryland history to recognize the Transgender Day of Visibility and last month he signed into law the Trans Health Equity Act into law, which requires Maryland Medicaid to provide coverage for gender-affirming care beginning next year.

“This month is a celebration of the beauty and uniqueness of the queer community, but it’s also a time to reaffirm our commitment to uplifting LGBTQIA+ Marylanders and continuing to fight against hatred, discrimination, and bigotry,” Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller said in the same press release that Moore’s office released. “LGBTQIA+ Marylanders deserve to be who they are, to live their pride — without fear or having to hide. This administration will always stand alongside and protect the rights of all Marylanders.”

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