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Government and People
OLIVER CARR COMPANY
1770 H STREET, N.W. SUITE 500 WASHINGTON, D.C. 20006 PHONE 202-303-3060 FAX 202-303-3078
SENDER'S DIRECT DIAL NUMBER: 202-303-3062
By Fax: 341-597-5915
January 15, 2003
Ms. Irani Webster
Dear Ms. Webster,
I appreciate having the time to speak to you yesterday and would like to take this opportunity to outline the idea I have been trying to explore regarding the Carter Woodson home at 1538 9th Street NW in Washington, D.C.
I am working with Betty Casey to build the new mansion for the Mayor of the City of Washington. As a part of that project, we have been negotiating with the National Park Service for the past year to acquire a small parcel of land adjacent to our site on Foxhall Road. We are a party to an exchange agreement for this purpose, a real estate properly exchange having been identified as the appropriate means of accomplishing our objective. At present, we would like to substitute a new property for the one we originally designated that. we would provide to the Park Service. In the process of considering other alternatives, I heard that there was a plan to convert the Carter Woodson home and two or three adjacent properties into a museum on the Black Heritage Trail that would be owned and run by the Park Service. 1 have been further informed that the Park Service would require authorizing legislation to permit this and that no funds had been appropriated for this purpose to date. For the past six weeks, I have been trying to find out about this project and speaking to the players involved to see if our foundation can play a role that will facilitate the objectives for the Carter Woodson house and enable us to achieve our goal. Following are the conversations I have had and information I have learned in the process.
1. I have spoken to the Shiloh Baptist Church who is enthusiastic about this project and willing to sell the two properties it owns north of the Carter Woodson house to become a part of the museum project. The funds they would receive from a sale could then be used to help repair their three properties to the south, which could then be put back to affordable housing use.
2. I have spoken to the Mayor who is enthusiastic about the Carter Woodson project and would like to see it move forward.
3. I have spoken to Congresswoman Norton's staff who are enthusiastic about the project and say that they can help accomplish the legislative part of the project if the Park Service is on board.
4. The informal response from the Park Service I have is that they are interested in the idea but lack the legislative authority to receive the house. I have heard informally that they are concerned about their ability to maintain and staff the property if they get it.
As someone who cares a great deal about the City, I find the opportunity to help preserve the Carter Woodson house and help the Shiloh Baptist Church provide housing to be extremely attractive, but I must also be realistic about what can be accomplished and not build the plans of the Mansion Foundation on plans that cannot be accomplished. The only way we can get money to the Carter Woodson project is to acquire property and convey it to the National Park Service through our exchange agreement. At present. it looks like the value of the exchange property we art trying to acquire will be between $500-600,000. Based upon my somewhat limited knowledge of the value of the real estate on 9th Street, I believe the houses to be worth between $250,000 and $300,000 in their present condition. From our brief conversation, I understand that your Association is interested in moving your offices to 9th Street and running the entire operation yourselves.
I apologize for speaking to you last, but I only found out how to contact you yesterday, and I realize that I do not know what your optimal plans are. Nonetheless, let me make two suggestions. It seems to me then to accomplish our objective we can do two things; we could buy the Caner Woodson house from your organization, exchange it to the National Park Service and provide the balance of our funds to fix it up, or we could possibly buy the Carter Woodson house and one of the Shiloh Baptist Church houses to the north and exchange both properties to the National Park Service. I believe we could get this done in about three months based upon where we are in our process: If your organization is interested in maintaining control of the property, perhaps it can be arranged that once the property is exchanged of the Park Service, it could be leased back to your organization on in a concession agreement for $1.00 per year for your manning and operating the facility. I believe that this can be achieved if people want to.
We are as the end of the public comment period of our environmental assessment process; the last day is this Friday. We need to decide how we are going to proceed now, so I would ask that if you think this is something that is of no interest to your organization you let me know right away. 1f this is something you would like to pursue, please let me know as soon as you can. I will lend whatever help I can if you would like to do this.
Please do not hesitate to call upon me if you have any further questions.
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