Mark David Richards
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MAYOR'S OFFICIAL RESIDENCE COMMISSION
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:
- The District of Columbia is the nation's capital and international
- The Mayor of the District of Columbia serves as the highest elected
official at both the state and local levels;
- 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;
- An official residence is also provided for the Mayors of major
cities in the United States, including Detroit, New York and Los
- 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;
- 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
- 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 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 first option is a standard or basic economy mayoral residency
that accommodates only the housing needs of the Mayor and his or her
- 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 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
- 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
- Duel entrances
- Security room or building
- Perimeter fencing
- 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
- 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.
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