Office of Property Management
Public Oversight Roundtable
Capital Projects and Space Needs for Public Safety Agencies
Testimony of Lars Etzkorn, Director Office of Property Management
Adrian M. Fenty, Mayor
Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary
Councilmember Phil Mendelson, Chairman
Thursday, 20 September 2007, 11 am
Council Chambers, John Wilson Building, Room 123
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004-3003
Good morning Chairman Mendelson and members of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. I am Lars Etzkorn, Director of the Office of Property Management (OPM). Thank you for inviting me to present testimony on several on capital projects and space needs for public safety agencies.
I am joined here today by four of the agency’s Capital City Fellows, each in their first rotation. It is the largest class of Fellows ever to serve at OPM and their work contributes significantly to our agency operations.
As stewards of the District’s property inventory, OPM recognizes the importance of appropriate facilities for our public safety agencies. In working with all agencies, including those under your Committee’s jurisdiction, OPM is committed to providing the best possible environment through building operations, real estate management and capital construction programs.
A key objective is to control fixed cost expenses by reducing the amount of District-leased space. Doing so frees funds for agency programmatic needs and allows the District to gain the additional benefit of shifting agencies to space within the community instead of being concentrated in the central business district. This in turn allows desirable leased space in the central business district to generate revenue through property taxes.
There are several projects currently underway that exemplify OPM’s partnership with, and commitment to public safety agencies.
Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)
One opportunity to apply the best practices in real estate management is to make informed decisions regarding the best use of existing leases. 225 Virginia Avenue, SE, is such an example.
225 Virginia Avenue, SE: While initial plans focused on co-locating several police functions in this leased building, a review of estimates revealed that total improvement costs exceeded the $100 million provided for in the lease. Hard costs alone were estimated to exceed $150 million. In addition, there were issues with compatibility in implementing the full program in the neighborhood. These include MPD’s 24-7 operations and parking demands for 658 vehicles. Currently, we are examining potential alternative uses for the space, including the possibility of using it as office space for government agencies.
OPM is diligently working with MPD to find appropriate space for all divisions that were considered to be located at 225 Virginia Avenue, SE.
1st District Headquarters: In order to prepare the site at 4th and School Streets, SW, for construction of the Consolidated Forensic Laboratory (CFL) the 1st District must vacate its current location by the 1st quarter of 2009. Mayor Fenty has stated that a Southwest location is preferred for a relocated 1st District station. A final decision will not be made without first consulting the community impacted by the move, which should occur during October.
Property and Evidence: OPM is working to identify alternatives for MPD to evaluate to replace the current Property and Evidence storage warehouse at Shannon Place, SE. Ideally, evidence would be stored for 65-years in a District-owned building. To that end, we are developing unit pricing for a District-owned facility to assess the viability of this option.
Violent Crimes Branch: The Violent Crimes Branch’s lease for the facility at 3220 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, expires in December 2008. OPM is currently developing options for MPD to relocate this function so arrangements are in place when its current lease expires.
Narcotics and Special Investigations Division: Similarly, the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division, whose 17,000 square foot lease expires in 2010, will also be relocated. OPM is currently exploring location options for this function, including the possibility of existing District-owned space.
Special Operations Division: OPM is assessing the possibility of moving the Special Operations Division (SOD) from various locations including 2301 L Street, NW, and co-locating this function with the 1st District. SOD will be relocated by spring 2009.
Consolidated Forensics Laboratory
The new Consolidated Forensic Laboratory (CFL) is Mayor Fenty’s number one public safety capital priority. It is a $220 million, 240,000-square-foot building to be located at 4th and School Streets, SW, at the existing location of MPD’s 1st District. The new facility will co-locate portions of three departments: the MPD forensic lab, the entire of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) and the Department of Health public health lab into a single world-class, state-of-the-art facility. The CFL will play a vital role in advancing and improving the District’s public safety capabilities.
OPM is pleased to inform the Committee that the CFL is on schedule for construction completion and start of operations by late 2011. We are on track to finalize the design before the beginning of 2008. To help educate the public on this project, OPM will launch a webpage dedicated to project information and updates by early October.
One Judiciary Square
The reorganization of One Judiciary Square (OJS) serves as a model for efficient use of space and cost effectiveness; a refocusing of OJS as the District’s judiciary center; a plan that takes into account the building’s close proximity to federal and local courts and the MPD functions at the Daly building.
Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH): Created under legislation in 2001, OAH was established to improve the quality of administrative adjudication in the District. The agency is currently divided among approximately 19,000 square feet of space in two suites in OJS, one in 825 North Capitol Street, NE and one in 941 North Capitol Street, NE.
An early design effort for an available floor in a commercial office building placed OAH into 68,400 square feet. The expansive design to fill 68,400 square feet included large common areas and inefficient circulation to separate Administrative Law Judges from the public.
Through value-engineering and discussions with Chief Administrative Law Judge Butler, OPM concluded the space necessary for OAH’s programmatic functions amounted to approximately 35,000 square feet, which could be accommodated in District owned space at OJS.
Furthermore, in concurrence with Judge Butler, the number of hearing rooms was reduced from 25 to 17. In the event that additional temporary hearing rooms are needed, more are available throughout OJS shared with other agencies such as the Office of Human Rights and Office of Zoning. Moreover, with the consolidation of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) within OJS, the public programs and services of both OAG and OAH may realize significant benefits from co-location. Space efficiency also comes from providing one large training room and one large conference room and eliminating a fitness center.
In addition, instead of paying for extra space to accommodate security and circulation measures in a leased building, OJS is able to provide District-owned space where these resources are already available. For example, the two banks of elevators on the north and south side of OJS provide separation for judges, staff and the public.
Design work for this move is under contract. We estimate this project will take 18 months and cost approximately $5.7 million; a savings of $2 million when compared to the build out and relocation costs associated with the 68,000 square feet discussed earlier. OPM looks forward to continuing to work with Judge Butler and OAH as this project progresses.
Office of the Attorney General: The Attorney General's presence is integral to the centralization of government judicial functions at Judiciary Square. The Agency's consolidation in OJS frees up valuable space for other agencies. Specifically, the fourth floor of OJS vacated by OAG will be occupied by OAH. This move has the benefit of not displacing other agencies, as OAG will then occupy the space vacated by OPM, which is moving to the 8th floor of the Reeves Center.
OPM remains committed to provide the best possible support to District agencies through building operations, real estate management and capital construction programs. We resolve to continue as good stewards of the District’s property assets and commit to working with public safety agencies, this Committee and the District residents to ensure our resources are used most efficiently for the public good.
Thank you for this opportunity to testify, I am happy to answer any questions from you or the Committee Members.