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Mayor’s Official Residence Commission
Draft Report
April 17, 2001




Dorothy Brizill
Bonnie Cain
Jim Dougherty
Gary Imhoff
Phil Mendelson
Mark David Richards
Sandra Seegars


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The District of Columbia is experiencing a cultural, economic and political renaissance. The population of Washington, D.C. is becoming more diverse. Private sector investment is growing in District neighborhoods, and public confidence in local government is increasing. This renaissance is occurring while District residents and stakeholders are coming together, working together, and succeeding together to obtain the promises of the new millennium. This renaissance period offers a golden opportunity to establish a permanent mayoral residency in the District of Columbia, "America's Crown Jewel."

The act establishing the Mayor's Official Residence Commission states:

  1. The District of Columbia is the nation's capital and international showcase;
  2. The Mayor of the District of Columbia serves as the highest elected official at both the state and local levels;
  3. Each of the 50 states in the United States provides an official residence for its top executive government official, the governor, for the purpose of serving as an official state residence; a suitable official location for entertaining and honoring state, notional, and international guests, as well as its own distinguished citizens; and an official location that houses and displays cherished memorabilia of the state's cultural and social history;
  4. An official residence is also provided for the Mayors of major cities in the United States, including Detroit, New York and Los Angeles;
  5. The mayors of cities that serve as the capitals of other nations are also provided with an official residence, including London, England and Paris, France;
  6. The Mayor of the District of Columbia should have a residence suitable to entertain and honor citizens, businesses, local and federal officials, and the many official guests and distinguished persons who visit the District each year from other cities, states and nations;
  7. After 25 years of limited home rule, it is time to establish an official residence of the Mayor of the District of Columbia.


Many different suggestions have been made regarding the location of the Mayor's Official Residence. It is the belief of the Commission that the best way to evaluate the various ideas is to establish a framework that objectively articulates options in terms of size, cost and programmatic considerations. Having done so, each specific idea and proposal can be evaluated on the basis of the established framework and criteria.

The Mayor's Official residence could reasonably range in size from 2,500 square feet to over 16,000 square feet depending on resources and programmatic preferences and choices. For purposes of framing a discussion, the establishment of a mayoral residence within the District of Columbia would be based on the following site selection options.

  • The first option is a standard or basic economy mayoral residency that accommodates only the housing needs of the Mayor and his or her family.
  • The second option is a larger version of the first option that provides high quality housing, additional living areas and bedrooms, limited guest space but no space for any public activity.
  • The third option is the largest version in which there would be high quality housing that accommodates the needs of a contemporary Mayor and his or her family, contains separate guest quarters, a public entertaining and reception area, as well as a exhibition space that can accommodate school age tours. There would be ample space for the Mayor and the District of Columbia to receive leaders from communities, cities and nations from around the world.
The establishment of the Mayor's residence would greatly enhance the reputation of Washington, D.C. and support our citizens' vision of the District of Columbia as "The World's Capital City". The District of Columbia and its official residence seeks to be America's crown jewel, and in doing so fulfills the highest aspirations, values, and ideals of American society for democracy, diversity, education, culture, neighborhoods, economic opportunity, and governance. The Mayoral residence is not to be the home of any one Mayor, but the home of all future Mayors.



The benefits of establishing the mayoral residency in the District of Columbia are many and could take one of several different forms.

The residence could be owned and operated by the District of Columbia government. All costs of acquisition and renovation as well as ongoing maintenance would be the responsibility of the District government The residence could be owned and operated by a separate not for profit foundation. This foundation would be dedicated to the sole purpose of owning and operating a residence for the mayor of the District of Columbia. Gracie Mansion, the residence of the Mayor of New York is owned and operated by this type of foundation (The Conservancy).


Regardless of the vehicle chosen to implement the establishment of a Mayor's residence one or more of the following activities, at a minimum, will need to be undertaken. These activities will have varying costs.

  • Acquisition of an existing private property
  • Acquisition and renovation of an existing private property
  • Identification and renovation of an existing District owned property.
  • Receipt of a gift in kind.


Based on the program for the house size and its intended function there would be some level of off street parking that would be warranted. The minimum amount of parking would be for five to ten cars, which would be adequate to accommodate the Executive Protection Unit and the personal vehicles of the Mayor's family.

  • 5-10 spaces, $5,000 to $10,000
  • 10-20 spaces, $10,000 to $20,000
  • 50-75 spaces, $50,000 to $75,000


Any Mayoral residence should have certain security considerations at a level that is appropriate to the structure and site. The Mayor's security detail has been consulted and they have advised that the following issues be considered:

  • Accessibility
  • Duel entrances
  • Security room or building
  • Perimeter fencing
  • Parking
  • Security Landscaping

In summary there are a number of considerations that have to be factored into a decision.


All wards and neighborhoods in the District represent the District. The site of the Mayor's residence should be chosen with regard to the impact on the on the neighborhood and the level of accessibility. It is the unanimous feeling of the members of the Commission that the site chosen for the Mayor's residence be a site that has dignity and is befitting the Office of the Mayor of the District of Columbia.


Based on a preliminary analysis, the cost of undertaking the establishment of an official Mayor's Residence that is comparable to other official state residences is in the range of $40 million to $50 million. This is based on the capital costs of construction and rehabilitation and the capitalized costs of operating over a 50 year period.

Given the fiscal constraints, demands and pressures on the budget of the District government and the need to fund important programs such as affordable housing, workforce development, literacy, education, and etc. funding for this initiative would best come from outside sources.


921 Pennsylvania Ave.

The District currently owns a building at the above location, which is also known as the Old Naval Hospital building. It is large, four story stately masonry building built in the middle of the 19th century.

  • The building is approximately 14,000 square feet and of a size sufficient to accommodate Option C above. It would be necessary to convert the floor plan for use as residential.
  • Though there would be no acquisition cost, the costs of renovation would be between $2.1 million and $4 million. Due to the age and condition of the building it is reasonable to anticipate costs to be on the upper end of the aforementioned range;
  • The operating costs would be between $490,000 and $800,000 annually;
  • Both the capital costs of repair as well as the ongoing operating costs would have to be raised or paid for by the District government;
  • A minimum amount of parking is available on site, approximately 5-10 spaces;
  • Security would be reasonably accommodated in terms of space within the building, a guard house, security fencing, etc. The use of this site as the Mayor's residence would have a positive impact in many respects on the adjacent neighborhood, but the lack of onsite parking will have negative impact on the area.

Casey Foundation Proposal

The Eugene B. Casey Foundation proposes to establish the Casey Mansion Foundation to acquire a seventeen acre site on Foxhall Rd., build a significant structure and endow the Foundation sufficient to pay all operating costs in perpetuity.

  • The proposed building will be "a beautiful, large, well planned house with official entertainment areas, comfortable private family quarters, and guest rooms."
  • All costs of acquisition, construction and operating will be paid for through the Casey Mansion Foundation.
  • Parking in excess of seventy-five cars will be available.
  • The proposed site and building are large enough to accommodate all reasonable security concerns.
  • The use of this site as a Mayor's residence would have very limited impact on the adjacent neighborhood.

Other Sites

A number of additional sites have been looked at by various members of the Commission. These sites include, but are not limited to:

  • 2801 16th St., Residence of the ambassador of Spain
  • 2700 16th St., Chancellery of Italy
  • 4845 Colorado Ave., Henry Wardman House
  • Several vacant sites on Massachusetts Ave. located at 4th, 5th, 6th, and 9th St.
  • The warden's house at St. Elizabeth's Hospital
  • Open land located on the east and west banks of the Anacostia River

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