SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOC21891CC
THE PROPOSED SALE OF HOUSE BUILDING ANNEX LOCATED AT 501 FIRST STREET, SE, WASHINGTON, DC
PLEASE NOTE: The following transcript is a portion of the official hearing record of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Additional material pertinent to this transcript may be found on the web site of the Committee at [http://www.house.gov/transportation]. Complete hearing records are available for review at the Committee offices and also may be purchased at the U.S. Government Printing Office.
PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS
OCTOBER 26, 1995
Printed for the use of the
Committee on Transportation and Infrastucture
COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania, Chairman
DON YOUNG, Alaska
WILLIAM F. CLINGER, Jr., Pennsylvania
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
HERBERT H. BATEMAN, Virginia
BILL EMERSON, Missouri
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
SUSAN MOLINARI, New York
WILLIAM H. ZELIFF, Jr., New Hampshire
THOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
Y. TIM HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
BILL BAKER, California
JAY KIM, California
STEPHEN HORN, California
BOB FRANKS, New Jersey
PETER I. BLUTE, Massachusetts
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
JACK QUINN, New York
TILLIE K. FOWLER, Florida
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
SPENCER T. BACHUS, Alabama
JERRY WELLER, Illinois
ZACH WAMP, Tennessee
TOM LATHAM, Iowa
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
ANDREA SEASTRAND, California
RANDY TATE, Washington
SUE KELLY, New York
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
BILL MARTINI, New Jersey
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
ROBERT E. WISE, Jr., West Virginia
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
PETE GEREN, Texas
GLENN POSHARD, Illinois
BUD CRAMER, Alabama
BARBARA-ROSE COLLINS, Michigan
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
PAT DANNER, Missouri
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
CORRINE BROWN, Florida
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
BOB FILNER, California
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
BILL K. BREWSTER, Oklahoma
KAREN McCARTHY, Missouri
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCFRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
THOMAS C. SAWYER, Ohio
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD, California
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland
SUBCOMMITTEE ON PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland, Chairman
ANDREA SEASTRAND, California, Vice Chairwoman
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
PETER I. BLUTE, Massachusetts
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Brazil, Harold, Councilmember, District of Columbia, Ward 6
Brownback, Hon. Sam, a Representative in Congress from Kansas
Chisholm, Steve, Chief of Staff, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
Creed, Gordon S., Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Office of the Property Disposal, Public Buildings Service, U.S. General Services Administration
Furness, Brian R., Second Vice-President, Capitol Hill Restoration Society
Gitelman, Natalie, Executive Director, Capitol Hill Child Care Center
Kolp, Terry J.R., Esquire, CPCM
Meany, Philip E., Jr., President, Grub & Ellis of Metropolitan Washington, DC
Nussle, Hon. Jim, a Representative in Congress from Iowa
Waldron, Peter James, Chairman, Advisory Neighborhood Commission
White, George M., Architect of the Capitol, U.S. Congress, accompanied by Bill Ensign, Assistant Architect of the Capitol
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
PREPARED STATEMENT SUBMITTED BY A MEMBER OF CONGRESS
Brownback, Hon. Sam, of Kansas
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY WITNESSES
Creed, Gordon S.
Furness, Brian R
Kolp, Terry J.R.
Meany, Philip E., Jr.
Waldron, Peter James
White, George M.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD
Kolp, Terry J.R., Esquire, CPCM:
Chart, Violent Crime Index, U.S. vs. D.C., 1992
Chart, Murder Rate, per 100,000 population, U.S. vs. D.C., 1992
Chart, Aggravated Assault per 100,000 population, Washington, DC
Chart, Motor Vehicle Theft Rate per 100,000 population, U.S. vs. D.C., 1992
Street Stories, newsletter
ADDITIONS TO THE RECORD
Franks, Hon. Bob, a Representative in Congress from New Jersey
Pittman, Lisa, President, Parents, Association, U.S. House of Representatives Child Care Center, Inc., letter to Rep. Gilchrest, December 12, 1995
Sulc, Lawrence B., Resident of Capitol Hill, statement
Wohl, Faith, Director of Workplace Initiatives, U.S. General Services Administration
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
THE PROPOSED SALE OF HOUSE BUILDING ANNEX LOCATED AT 501 FIRST STREET, SE, WASHINGTON, DC
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1995
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Economic Development,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 1:40 p.m. in room 2247, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Wayne Gilchrest (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. GILCHREST. The Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Grounds and Economic Development will come to order.
This afternoon we'll hear from a cross-section of witnesses on the proposed sale of 501 First Street, Southeast. This proposed sale is part of the strategy to downsize the Government. While this building is not large, it represents one of a series of actions undertaken by the Legislative Branch to reduce its size and scope. As many of you know, the budget for the Legislative Branch is $150 million below last year's budget, and this reduction is in actual dollars.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I want to welcome all of the witnesses here this morning. I know that we look forward to your testimony on this issue that we hope is not too controversial.
I wish to make a couple of points before we begin.
First, there is no secret plan to do anything specific with this building. We are about to propose an idea to sell the building, so we want to find out what its value is and what its proposed use is. There is an honest effort to sell the structure. We are aware of the child care center currently located in the building, and we will make the necessary accommodations for the child care center. We are also aware of the other occupants of the building, and we will accommodate those employees, as well.
At the beginning of the 104th Congress, we declared a goal to reduce the size of the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government. We have done that by cutting the actual dollars needed to operate Congress for fiscal year 1996. Legislative Branch agencies have been reduced or eliminated. GAO and GPO are both smaller organizations today, and they will probably continue to shrink. The Architect's Office, which has been run ably for many, many years is under review. The Chief Administrator's office is smaller and costs less. There are fewer committees and subcommittees. There are fewer staff on the remaining committees.
Now it is time to divest some of the real estate holdings of the Legislative Branch. That is the purpose of the hearing today: to provide a forum for all interested parties on this proposed sale.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This afternoon we hope to get a clear understanding of what we need to do in order to complete the real estate transaction. Our witnesses bring considerable expertise and perspective, which will aid us greatly in our deliberations.
Our first panel consists of Members of Congress. Right now just Congressman Nussle is here. We will hear from him in a few minutes. We do expect Bob Franks of New Jersey and Sam Brownback of Kansas a little bit later on in the hearing.
At this point I would like to recognize the relatively new former chairman, presently ranking Member of the subcommittee, my dear friend, Mr. Traficant.
Mr. TRAFICANT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm glad to be back here as the ranking Member. I want to salute Bob Wise from West Virginia for the fine job he has done with the changes with our ranking Member, Norm Mineta, having left. I also want to, for the first time, congratulate Mr. Oberstar. We're very proud to have him. He'll do a fine job.
I also want to start out by saying hello to who will be the first witness. I believe he has dedicated a sincere interest in trying to make Government more efficient, and I have supported a lot of the things he has done. I'm anxious to hear his testimony here today.
I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing relative to the sale of the House Building Annex at 501 First Street, Southeast, the building that currently houses the Capitol Hill Child Care Center, along with two officesthe Architect of the Capitol, who is also here today, and it is always good to see him.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The child care center has operated this location for 8 years and currently provides services for 52 children of House employees.
As I said in my comments relative to the fine work of Jim Nussle, I have supported many of the Republican leadership efforts to make our Government more efficient and to cut costs. I understand that a commitment was made at the start of the year by the new leadership to sell at least one House office building. It seems that we are here today convened over the issue therein.
If the leadership can find a House-owned building that currently serves no productive purpose, can be sold at a profit for the taxpayers, I will support such a sale, but I do have some questions, and I believe those questions will have to be answered in good faith before I will, in fact, support that effort.
Number one: will such a sale actually save taxpayers' money or will it cost taxpayers' money? What will happen to the Capitol Hill Child Care Center? What are the costs of moving the center? Will the new home prove to be a safe place for the children? How does the forced relocation of the child care center fit into a family-friendly atmosphere that everyone in the House is trying to attain on both sides of the aisle? How will the sale impact upon the local community and how closely does the leadership intend to work with the local community before any final decision on the disposition of this property is made?
I'm hoping this hearing will answer those questions, and I am particularly interested in two key issues: does the sale of this building make economic sense? And how closely will we work and listen to the concerns of the local community and those impacted upon by such decisions?
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I certainly hope that, before voting on any specific legislative proposals related to the sale of this or any other House building, these questions are answered in full and that the local community is given every opportunity to participate and contribute.
With that, I also want to welcome our other witness, Mr. Brownback. I'm glad to have you here. And I also want to say that I'm very glad to work with Chairman Gilchrest. I believe he has been fair all the way through, from what I have seen of him in the past, and I look forward to working with you and serving in good faith, Mr. Chairman.
I yield back whatever time I have.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Traficant.
If there are no furtherMr. Oberstar?
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to say a few words in my first session here as ranking Member of the full committee and participant in all of the subcommittee activities.
I am glad that you are holding the hearing in the nature of fact-finding rather than ready, fire, aim. It is very important that we get the facts on the record, and in your typically officious and thoughtful manner, I know that will happen.
But I remember very well when the day care center was established on a bipartisan basis, with the Speaker and Minority Leader serving on the board or appointing the board members and serving as its overseer. A tax-exempt foundation was established. Scholarships were created.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
What we're talking about is not some elaborate Federal building, some elaborate structure with mahogany walls and carpeted floors; it is a two-story, nondescript, red brick building on a very odd-shaped piece of ground. Were it in any town of my District, the property value wouldn't be worth a whole lot, but it is in the District of Columbia where property is at a premium, so it is worth something.
But whatever it is worth, it just seems to me it is worth a great deal more than any dollar value in the purpose it serves, the function that it serves as a day care center for those 52 enrollees presently there and for their families, and for the sense of security that they are provided.
Whether it is useful to sell, whether it is necessary to sell this propertymatters that I hope to see explored in the course of this inquirymy first inquiry, my first interest is: what is going to be done with this property? Are we just going to sell it for the dollar amount? Is that going to reduce the deficit? Is that going to make a big dent in the deficit? Or is this just being done because there is an agenda to be achieved, that we've got to have a scalp on the wall, we need to sell something? Those are the questions I have.
There is now a very high purpose being served, one that a family-friendly Congress, so self-proclaimedit wasn't very family friendly for the first part of this year. That doesn't mean any other Congress is very terribly family-friendly. They didn't pretend to be in the past, and they weren't. But this certainly should be within the ambit of an inquiry of this Congress.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I thank you for holding the hearing.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. WISE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I feel compelledI'm going to keep my remarks brief because we are fortunate to have Mr. Nussle and Mr. Brownback explain the purposes. I do feel compelled to put on the record I guess I don't think I have a conflict of interest. I have a great deal of interest, however. I am the parent of two children who have graduated from the day care center. We do not presently have a child there.
I might point out that I'm not sure there have ever been more than three Members with children there. I believe that there is one Member with a child there now, or maybe two children. My point is that this is not a Members' day care center, this is a staff day care center. Members stand in line and are in the infant lottery.
I'll just tell this story. When the day care center opened, Sandy was seven months or eight months pregnant with Robert, and we happenedthere were 18 parents applying for 10 slots, and we drew numbers. We were fortunate. We drew number eight or something. We paid tuition for two months while she was pregnant to hold that slot. That's how valuable those slots are.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I always wanted to go down and sit in the day care center, if nothing else, and pick up something by osmosis.
At any rate, I want to make the point that, first of all, this is a service to staff predominantly, to Members somewhat. Everyone pays tuition. It is a self-sustaining operation. If the House leadership is making a decision, that's the House leadership's decision. I would just point out this is a very finely-run day care center, to my mind a development center. It is run on a businesslike basis, and I would just urge that the welfare of these children and the service this center provides to the entire House of Representatives on a nonpartisan basis be uppermost.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Wise.
Ms. NORTON. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank the chairman for the way in which he has approached this and every other issue before the committee, because the fairnessI think even if one ultimately agrees with what happensallows one to proceed, I think, in the collegial way in which this subcommittee has always operated.
I am, myself, sympathetic to the government efficiency goals of the new majority and believe that the mission is entirely consistent with President Clinton's reinventing government approach. Many of the approaches coincide with or are the same as or built upon those approaches.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I'm sympathetic, as well, because if the Federal Government is more efficient there will be more money to spend on places where we know it needs to go.
Finally, I suppose I am particularly drawn to notions of government efficiency because of the state of my own local government. I believe that, if governments at every level learn to become more efficient and adopt more of what is useful from the private sector, we will be able to serve our constituents better and make people understand that government, indeed, does have an important role to play in the lives of people.
I have no objection to government trying tois it make money or save money? But I am sure that most Members would have some difficulty with the notion of what amounts to selling a child care center with the children still in it, and thus I will be most interested to hear of the alternative plans that may be possible here.
I know that the family-friendly mission of the majority is one that has been difficult to keep, and I sympathize with both their goal and the difficulty they have had. That has been hard to do because, in a real sense, much of the work has been dictated by the hours necessary to accomplish the work. I don't regard this decision as one that is dictated in the same way, however, and would hope that the same kind of cost/benefit analysis one brings in the private sector one would bring to the sale of any such business here, recognizing it is a government-owned building, which makes it somewhat different from anything in the private sector, and that it was arrived at through a bipartisan understanding that the Government had a special responsibility to get out in front of this issue.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Indeed, what I would like to see is that every employer of a certain size would feel an obligation to provide a similar facility. If that is to happen, of course, this employer, the Federal Government, the Congress of the United States, has to be the first to set the example. I must say that since the bipartisan group started on this matter when there were only ten such centers, the fact that GSA facilities now have more than 100102 such centerssays to me that the Federal Government has been paying the appropriate leadership role. I would hate to send a message that we are reneging on that role.
The building's other uses, even apart from the child care center, have to be taken into account. Because I represent the District, of course, I have always, to balance my Federal interest and my local interestand I believe it's my obligation under the law to always allow the Federal interest to be supreme, and I intend do to that in this case. I would only ask that the interests of the District of Columbia be taken into account as the law requires. Its laws and rules regarding zoning and community participation in such decisions apply as well here, and I would ask that those laws and that protocol be respected here, as you would expect that respect to be granted to your own Districts and to your own constituents.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I can guarantee that the protocol which you have just described will be respected.
Ms. NORTON. Thank you.
Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. LaTourette.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. LATOURETTE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Very briefly, I want to commend my freshman colleague, Mr. Brownback, and also Mr. Nussle, for their continued push to make the Government examine and re-examine itself when it comes to efficiency. In consideration of their time, however, I would ask unanimous consent that my remarks would be included in full in the record in lieu of giving an opening statement.
I do want to make one congratulatory comment, if I may, Mr. Chairman. I note that we have a new ranking Member on this subcommittee, the gentleman from Ohio, south of my District, Mr. Traficant. I would extend my congratulations to him on that new posting.
In no derogation to you, Mr. Chairman, I would note that since Mr. Traficant became the ranking member we seem to be meeting in a bigger room.
Mr. GILCHREST. So noted.
Mr. LATOURETTE. He sold the other room.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. LaTourette.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. GILCHREST. Ms. Johnson.
Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. This is my first meeting this session. I'm rejoining this subcommittee, as I served before.
There are a number of questions that I have, and I want to express my appreciation for your conducting this fact-finding hearing.
I am a grandmother now, and my daughter-in-law and my son are in the work force. I was in the work force when my son was day care age. It is important to have a day care convenient where there is a peace of mind when one goes to work. I'm interested to knowI know there must be replacement services, and I want to hear about those. And I'd like to hear about the plans for the structure. Is it a win/win situation? Is the alternative use going to be to our benefit? And how much of the deficit will it take up?
We are working longer days and more days, and times in which we will need as close and convenient a day care for us and our staffs as possible.
I am eager to hear the report, and I thank you very much for holding the hearing.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Ms. Johnson. We are also eager to hear the right kind of information.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Nussle, do you have an opening statement?
Mr. NUSSLE. Yes, I do, Mr. Chairman.
TESTIMONY OF HON. JIM NUSSLE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM IOWA; HON. SAM BROWNBACK, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM KANSAS
Mr. NUSSLE. I thank you for holding this hearing and thank my friends and colleagues on the committeeMr. Traficant, new ranking Member, congratulations.
I have been the transition chairman for almost a year now, and part of the transition's job has been to work with space utilization. The transition has been heralded as a major success by many varied sources for probablythe biggest reason is they haven't seen it. When transitions work well, they work without too much limelight and very few people notice that it is even going on. The trains continue to run on time and things continue to happen without a lot of stoppage or without any interruption. Luckily, that has been the case.
To date, the transition during 1995Mr. Chairman, you mentioned 1996, the kind of budget savings. Just to let the committee know the kind of savings in 1995, for the first ten months of the year we have saved the taxpayers $76 million as a result of the transition changes. That's 10 percent of the budget that was available for us for 1995. This is even before the Legislative Branch reforms that are coming next year.
There has been a one-third staff cut. There has been a 30 percent reduction in the administrative staff. There is a new professional administration which has ended the patronage system.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
What we're trying to accomplish now in final analysisand it has been one of the more difficult issuesis more efficient space utilization. Part of the reason why it is difficult is because, not unlike a manufacturing setting or any other setting, when you have so many different offices and agencies operating at peak capacity because of all the requests and demands made on a lower and smaller staff, it becomes difficult to accomplish the kind of moves and changes in order to make efficient use of space accomplished in a short period of time.
And so, over the course of this year, we have been making small changes on a road toward hopefully more efficient use of space. What this has allowed us to do, as an end result, because of the changes and the down-sizing and the one-third cut in staff, is it has allowed us to basically free up space that then can be put on the market for sale.
In doing soand this, of course, is the focus of your hearingwe learned that Congress has never sold anything. It is very difficult to find a precedent.
Of course, the Federal Government knows how to sell buildingsbuy and sell and trade and lease and contract for buildings. That's what this committee does all the time. But as you know, Mr. Chairmanwe have talked about this beforethere is very little precedent, if any precedent, for a Congress selling a building or real estate.
And so, as a result, we have to search for what that process is. What is the right way to handle it? In doing so, many of the issues that were brought up by my colleagues here today came to mind.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC First of all, what do we do with the use of that real estate, the current use? There is, as has been noted already, a child care center, a day care center. Let me let you know, first of all, right up front, before we get down the road too far and there are any more questions about it, it is the leadership's intention to continue the day care center. We want to accomplish the sale of a building or a transaction of a building with minimal to no interruption in the child care services.
Let me suggest to you that we have received quite a few suggestions and alternatives for how to not only continue the day care center, but also improve the services of the day care center.
I'll just give an example. Five blocks away for a lot of parents is not as good. As the gentlewoman from D.C. mentioned, there are many buildings here in town that have their day care services located in the building where the parents work. Five blocks away can be very difficult without parking, without proper egress or ingress. It becomes very difficult.
One could suggest that the dilapidated nature of the building to begin with would suggest that we should have moved this day care a long time ago to more suitable places, but we also know how difficult it is to make those moves in the first place.
That's number one: that the day care, as a goal, must continue. That's a goal that we will accomplish, and that is not a jurisdictional issue that is necessarily before the committee but it should be considered.
The second thing is that it is a goal of the leadership, because of the space utilization and the efficiency, that we accomplish the sale of a building before the end of the year.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
How did we arrive at 501 First Street? Well, let me be honest with you. Look at the other buildings that are available for sale. If we would have talked about The O'Neill Building, which has been called ''The Hotel'' or ''Annex One'' or ''The Page Dorm,'' if we would have tried to sell that building we'd be here discussing the page program as opposed to the child care center.
If we talked about the Ford Building, which I believe is referred to as ''Annex Two'' or ''The Old FBI Building,'' which is down across the highway, we'd have staff picketing outside here because they wouldn't know where in the world they'd be going. Because it is such a huge building and it houses a number of important agencies such as CBO, etc., it would be difficult to house all of the folks that currently work there.
So we rested on 501 not because it is ideal, because clearly with the child care center in there currently it is not the most ideal setting; however, given the options, given the options to improve the setting for the child care center, given the option of the difficulty in dealing with the page program and the page dormitory setting and safety for them, as well as the size of the Ford Building, we decided that it would be our recommendation that the 501 First Street Building be our recommendation.
Let me also suggest that we have been working behind the scenes. There was a mention about some secret plan. There hasn't been much secreted. This has been heralded in ''Roll Call,'' and ''The Hill,'' and other publications all along the year about all sorts of not only speculation, but ramifications of building sales and space utilization, so there is no secret plan.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
But behind the scenes I have to say we have worked very closely with two Members of Congress, in particular. My friend here, Sam Brownback, has been taking on this project as the freshman class has tried to work to accomplish this sale. My good friend Bob Franks, who is the chairman of the Space Utilization Committee for the transition, helped give us some of the alternatives.
My good friend George White, from the Architect of the Capitol's office has been giving us good information on options and alternatives and money and cost, as Mr. Wise and Mr. Oberstar mentioned before about what this is going to cost, and Mr. Traficant. Those are good questions that I could answer for you, but I think I'm going to leave that to Mr. White because he's got it right down to the penny, I think, and can do a much better job of giving you the specifics.
I want to commend Bob Franks and Sam Brownback for their tenacity in keeping this issue up forefront.
I would just end by saying that I thought space would probably be the least of our worries when I took over as the transition chairman. I thought the Doorkeeper's Office, I thought the one-third staff cut, I thought a number of the other reforms would be more difficult to accomplish. I have to say to you, Member to Member, that space, who gets to be where, how many office square feetit seems amazing to me that we will sometimes go to the mattresses, so to speak, over 15 square feet, but that does happen, as all of us know. Space has been probably one of the more difficult issues.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to thank Karen Feaga from the Speaker's Office for her help in trying to keep all the balls in the air and keeping all these space issues juggling for us.
I commend to this committee that their hard work and trying to find a way to accomplish thismy suggestion would be 501 First Street. I would suggest that we could do it this year and that we do it with minimal to no interruption to the day care services and, in fact, hope that we can work together as parents, grandparents, and Members to improve the child care and day care setting for the various parents, both Members and staff of Capitol Hill.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Nussle.
Are you under some time constraints?
Mr. NUSSLE. I'm doing fine. I'll hang around.
Mr. GILCHREST. We'll have Mr. Brownback go next, and then we'll see who has questions.
Mr. BROWNBACK. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your holding this hearing.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Congratulations, Mr. Traficant, in getting the bigger room. We'll see about selling this building later.
I want to express my appreciation to Mr. Nussle, as well, for the work that he has done in this particular area and want to associate myself with his comments.
Briefly, if I could describe a little bit the genesis of what has taken place here with this and make some brief comments about that, I think that is probably what best I can add here.
I don't think it is any secret that the size of the Federal Government has grown substantially in the past 30 years and that there is a country out there screaming, yelling, ''It is too big. It does too much. It takes too much from us.'' I think that was both the results of the election of 1992 and in 1994.
You see different people coming at this different ways. You see the Clinton Administration coming at them on a reinventing government basis, and you see us coming at it initially on the basis of what the Government should be doing.
But under either synopsis or either scenario, the Federal Government needs to be smaller, more focused, more efficient.
I think you can go through any of these systems and say, at the end of the day, that's what everybody is focused at getting to. We've got to do that in Congress, I believe, by leading by example. In other words, we need to do it first and we need to do it to ourselves, and we need to examine what we can do to make this place smaller, more efficient, more focused.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Congress has virtually the same number of representatives as we did in 1965, but staff size has gone up five-fold and the physical plant of the Congress has increased substantially. I didn't realize until getting here that the Congress has an annual budget itself of $3 billion.
I'm from the State of Kansas, and you say it is a small State. It is, people-wise, although I think we make up for it in football in that area. That's nearly the general fund size of the State of Kansas' budget, and that's of this Congress.
This expansion has been part of the culture of spending, which has brought this Nation on the brink of bankruptcy. This year the Federal Government, under Congress' direction, is going to spend nearly $200 billion more than it takes in. This practice just has to stop. It really has to stop.
This project before us is one small step in that direction, but merely focusing on dollar amounts misses the importance of this point.
The sale of the Congressionally-owned building advances the cause of deficit reduction in two very important ways.
Number one, there is a critical symbolic significance to Congress leading by example. If we are going to ask the rest of the country to tighten the belt, to pull things in some until we can get this budget to balance, we ought to do it ourselves and we ought to do it first. We are doing that as far as cutting the number of committees, subcommittees by one quarter, cutting committee staffs by one-third. We also passed legislation applying to Congress the rules that the rest of the work place have.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I think we need to do it, as well, by our physical plant, here saying: let's get it smaller and show that to the American people.
Second, by cutting the Congress first we can directly attack the culture of spending that has led us to this point today. By making the limits on public resources directly manifest on those who make the decisions regarding other spending, we drive home the point that we have got to re-limit the Federal Government.
In other words, again, we've got to lead by example. This is under either what President Clinton is proposing or what we are proposing. This is leading by example, and it is what the American people are calling us to do.
To my knowledge, this is the first sale of a Congressionally-owned building to the private sector. This, I think, is a key statement to the American people. We are going to balance the budget. We're going to have everybody participate in that process, including Congress. We're going to lead by example in Congress.
This is a very doable process, and I think it is important in the overall effort to balance the budget.
With that, I appreciate very much your chairmanship in holding this hearing and look forward to any questions I might answer.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Brownback.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I'll go first to Mr. Traficant.
Mr. TRAFICANT. I would ask unanimous consent whatever questions I have be submitted in writing and those answers be made available to us in writing and spread across the record.
Mr. GILCHREST. Without objection, so ordered.
Mr. TRAFICANT. I just would like to commend both of these fine Members for their testimony here. I believe that Mr. Nussle has taken on a job and has done it quite well, and I think your colleague there has worked hard with you on this, and I will be open-minded and fair. I appreciate your testimony here.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Traficant.
Mr. LATOURETTE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would make the same request as Mr. Traficant, but I do have one question, if I may ask it. I don't know whether it is to Mr. Brownback or Mr. Nussle.
When this issue came up internally earlier in the year, there was some discussion that we look at whether or not the Congress is leasing space. In other words, before we sell something, do we have leases out there and landlords that we owe money to, and wouldn't it be better to consolidate in buildings that the Congress owns as a first step. I assume that process was taken by you, Mr. Brownback, or Mr. Franks, or somebody, and why 501 was selected, aside from the reasons you have already talked about.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. NUSSLE. I think, first of all, we made the decision that warehouse space that we lease now should be terminated and that space utilization be reconsidered. That was done by House Oversight this year, and also by Legislative Branch Appropriations as part of their deliberation. There was also the privatization of a parking lot which was, I believe, used most recently during the Million Man March for parking for the public, and is utilized in that way.
So we have taken that into consideration, but in the final analysis, because ofI think the promise we made was fairly succinct: that we felt, based on space utilization, that we could accomplish getting rid of a building that was being used currently for staff and for other Congressional services.
The Star Building, which was warehouse leased space, I didn't think qualified. I suppose some have suggested, ''Why don't we just take credit for that and run?'' But I think if you're going to be honest with the promises that we made and the down-sizing that we made, realistically it requires us to look at one of the three annexes, and this, I believe, is the proper one to focus on.
Mr. LATOURETTE. Thank you very much. I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. LaTourette.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. WISE. Thank you.
Mr. Nussle, I was very glad to hear your affirmation of the child care center and the valuable function it performs. In terms of 501, it is an old building. It is two stories, although the child care center, itself, is only contained in part of the first story. The rest of it, I believe, is the Architect of the Capitol. That's not a great prize, but given the price of real estate I don't know that Abe Pollin will go for it or Jack Kent Cooke, but perhaps somebody will.
My question is: in terms of alternatives, what are the alternatives for the child care center? Where can that go?
Mr. NUSSLE. We considered Jack when it came to stadiums, but this didn't seem to fit the bill. It was too small.
The alternatives for the child care appear to be probably three, or actually four at this point.
One would be to suggest to this committee that we could affect the sale of the building and leave the child care where it is at and allow the new purchaser of the building a tenant right off the bat, and the certain cash flow that we could arrange for that tenancy, as the Congress does with many other buildings. That would be one option.
Another option would be to move it to the O'Neill Building. I say that because it is an obvious option. It is close in its proximity to the three office buildings; however, I think that would be a question you should ask Mr. White. It is my understanding that is probably the least attractive alternative because of the physical state of the O'Neill Building, that there are some concerns about the O'Neill Building long-term that we may have to come back to this committee and discuss again in the future.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The third option would be the Ford Building. The Ford Building appears, from both a cost standpointif there was going to be a move and a relocation, it appears to be the most attractive option at this point in time.
And then the fourth option would be move to one of the three House office buildingsthe Cannon, the Longworth, or the Rayburn. With the change in the Post Office and the folding room, there is some space available and the square footage necessary in order to accomplish this; however, the transformation of that space for child care purposes and its location in the basement near industrial or shipping and receiving areas may not be as attractive as the Ford Building.
All of that isI guess my suggestion would be two options. One is to leave it where it is at and consider this as a condition of sale, that there remains a tenancy there. Second would be the Ford Building and a complete relocation.
Mr. WISE. Fair enough. I would just point out a couple of considerations. This is not based on any conversations I have had with anybody, but just sort of being a parent for 7 years, driving to and from the child care center.
If you leave it at 501 with the tenancy situation, assuming somebody will take that situation, there are a couple of considerations. I don't know that you are going to save much money on security, because you'll have to have security there. That neighborhoodand I think some others are going to testify to that, as wellthe park next to it, you've got some problems. It has always been essential to have at least one security officer when the children are out on the playground, for instance.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
That brings up the second point, which is a play area. It is a very small play area that they have, but it would be necessary to have that in the constraints within any of those options.
I just bring that up, particularly if you are looking at the idea of keeping that at 501, the security aspect of it. You're going to have to keep that there.
I appreciate your thoughts.
Mr. NUSSLE. Clearly that's a condition that we considered, a concern that we considered. That's one of the reasons why we thought it was interesting that it was still there in the first place, or that that was the first option.
I can tell you, having managed space now for a year, that I know why. You move it as far away as seniority and other issues allow you to go. This was the last building.
I think there is some attractiveness to moving it to another building. At least we ought to consider that. And the proceeds of the building may pay for the move.
As Mr. White will testify later, I think this could cost almost $1 million to make a relocation, but to a more attractive location, as well as with a play area, also better security. It may be an attractive way to go.
Mr. WISE. And is there any kind of an advisory committee that has been formed that would have some parents on it that could also work? The leadership has the right, I feel, to say what it is going to do, but I would just urge, if there isn't one, an advisory committee for this reason: recently I was involved in the planning of a demonstration which dealt with children. After we got it all done, we recognized that not one of the people who planned it had any children. That made a big difference in terms of understanding what the needs are and what the concerns are.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I would just hope that, if it is going to be moved, that there would be some kind of opportunity for parents, for staff, for others to be involved in at least pointing out what some of the very real considerations are. You hate to get down there and find out, ''Oops, we don't have enough potty space. We don't have enough playground space, or whatever.''
Mr. NUSSLE. Yes. My 7-year-old and my 4-year-old keep that in
Mr. WISE. Then you know very well. You're on the advisory committee. I can tell.
Mr. NUSSLE. I don't know if that's the case, but I think certainly the family-friendly advisory committee is one; location; leadership, itselfmany of us on the leadership have kidsas well as the folks who have been working on the transition and on the space issue.
That's one of the reasons why we're very sensitive to this and maybe took this long to even make this recommendation in the first place.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Wise.
The ranking member of the full committee doesn't have any questions.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. NORTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Brownback and Mr. Nussle, I note that both of you, in different ways, seem to indicate that there was a point to be made here. Mr. Brownback I believe spoke about leading by example, Mr. Nussle exclaimed that Congress had never sold anything.
Is the main purpose of selling this building to indicate and show that Congress can find something that it owns to sell? Is that what we're really after?
Mr. BROWNBACK. What I said is what I think it is about. It is aboutwe're going to balance the budget in this country. It hasn't been done since 1969. It is a horrible legacy that we have left my children, your children, the three that I have, more to come. It is just a horrible legacy to leave.
If you go across this Nation, the 250 million people, and say, ''We've got to balance the budget,'' they say, ''Okay. Good. You lead by example. You guys start it off and show that this is for real because we've been bluffed and we've been given stories about this for so long we don't even believe anybody any more.''
Ms. NORTON. Mr. Brownback, you don't think all of the cuts that have taken place are leading by example after example after example? Do you think that the public really wants you to sell something?
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. BROWNBACK. What has happened to you? What has happened to you in your office? That's what I mean by leading by example.
Mr. NUSSLE. Would the gentlewoman yield?
Ms. NORTON. Yes. Are you questioning me, or am I
Mr. BROWNBACK. Yes.
Ms. NORTON.the person who is supposed to offer questions this afternoon?
Mr. BROWNBACK. You asked the question I'm asking whenin that sense
Ms. NORTON. A lot has happened to me in my office. I had to discharge people when the 104th Congress opened. But I have to tell you, when I go back into my District they don't ask, ''Eleanor, what have you given up?''; they tell me all that they are giving up.
Mr. BROWNBACK. Exactly.
Ms. NORTON. I think you've got lots to show
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BROWNBACK. Exactly.
Ms. NORTON. You've got a long story to tell about what you are forcing people to give up, and it seems to me you have really led by example if the point is to show that you want to balance the budget and that this building, this insignificant building, pales in comparison with the examples that, for example, are on the floor as we speak here this afternoon.
Mr. NUSSLE. Sure. And it is probably unfortunate that the hearing is held today on a day when we are certainly going at each other on the floor of the House over some very serious issues, and I don't want to put the sale of a building up at the level of some of the reforms we are making on the floor of the House today.
But I would say this: it is important when any businessI kind of have a closet theory of space utilization. I know that if I get space at homewhen I moved into a little bit bigger house I filled it very quickly. I don't know why. If I moved into a smaller house I think I'd probably have a garage sale and fill it and that would be about it. We tend, as human beings, to fill the space that we're allowed.
What we have learned is that it is very easy in this kind of space utilizationbecause all we are talking about here is efficiency. That's really what I think we're talking about, number one.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Number two, I think we're talking about the safety of the day care. I think we ought to consider, and quite properly so, the safety of the kids. It would be probably something we ought to considermoving this, making a better place for them, both either with a park or with security interests of the building, itself. I think we ought to consider a move for that.
And then just the fact that, because of the downsizingand I know we disagree on thatthe downsizing of personnel in Administration and in committees has given us the opportunity to put us into a smaller location.
When you talk about maintenance and upkeep, when you talk about trying to keep these buildingssome of them are oldkeeping them in good working order so that they are safe, not only for the employees of the building but also for the kids, in this instance. I think it is important that we always keep an eye on this and consider making changes.
I can tell you that O'Neilland we're not even here to talk about O'Neill. The O'Neill Building, which is the hotel across the way, was supposed to be used and was built to be a hotel. I just thinkand George can give us better information than I can, but I think within the last few years they put out edicts about piling stuff on file cabinets because the place was not only run down but it wasn't being utilized correctly.
So all of the time we've got to look through this. It is not justsomebody mentioned a scalp on the wall. There is some symbolism in this, certainly. I'm not going to kid you. Sure. It would be nice to put a ''for sale'' sign on the building. ''For sale, 260 million owners.'' That's who is selling thisthe taxpayers. Certainly there is that symbolism. But I think there is also good old-fashioned common sense and space utilization here, as well.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. NORTON. Mr. Nussle, I appreciate your comments on the day care center, because it seems to me that you are genuinely concerned and have given some thought and have actually come forward with alternatives. Can you assure the subcommittee that there would be no sale of this building until concrete plans have been made to accommodate the day care center that we now have in the building?
Mr. NUSSLE. I think what we needif I could make a recommendation, my recommendation would be that, because Congress has not sold a building before, we have to considerthis committee should consider a process to do that.
For instanceand I have talked to the chairman about thisI'm certainly prepared to introduce a bill in order to accomplish that. I've withheld that. We've been talking with staff and with the legal staff in order to figure out a way to accomplish that. But I'm certainly prepared to follow through and follow your recommendations, and hopefully even in a bipartisan way. This isn't Republicans selling the building, this is Congress selling the building.
The second part of that, then, would be, once you decide on the process, then the second part, which we'll continue to work on, are the alternatives, which is, I believe, under another committee's jurisdiction to determine what exactly happens to the day care, if we can enhance it or make any changes.
The second or the third area of jurisdiction is the House Building Commission, which actually decides whose space is where.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Those are kind of the three paths that we are proceeding on, and my recommendation would be, if this committee could focuscertainly those other issues are important, but if you could focus on the process of how we can accomplish it, that would be my humble recommendation to the chairman and the rest of the committee.
Ms. NORTON. In keeping with the bipartisan spirit that brought the day care center into existence in this whole concern before the Congress, I would like to say right now that I would like to help develop a bipartisan bill that would alleviate concerns about the child care center and appreciate your offer to make that a bipartisan concern.
Could I ask just one more thing on the child care center to follow up on Mr. Wise's comment? Could we be assured that this advisory committee notionagain, you have lots of panicked parents out there, obviously. The only thing that could completely disrupt my life as a working parent was that something was going to happen to my child care arrangements, especially when my mother-in-law could no longer do it. She was a better mother than I ever will be.
But the notion of the advisory committee is not just whistling Dixie. I wonder if that advisory committee could be set up and if it could include some parents who presently use the day care center.
Mr. NUSSLE. There are two options that I would put out for your consideration. One would be the fact that there is a day care board with parents that utilize the day care center, child care center, that sit on that board, number one. Certainly, they will be consulted with and we will work with them.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Number two, I would suggest that, since we already have aand we were kind of quipped about it, I believe, in ''Roll Call'' today about the task force on task forces and the committee on committees and all those different things. I would suggest that we and that I refer to and speak with Frank Wolf today on the Family Friendly Committee and request that they look into this, as well. Maybe, instead of setting up a whole new committee or task force, or whatever, that we refer it to them. Would that beis that agreeable?
Ms. NORTON. With a parent or parents included in their deliberations on this matter.
Mr. NUSSLE. And that they, in turn, consult with the child care board.
Ms. NORTON. Surely. I'm not interested in proliferating committees, eitherjust in getting input from these parents that use it.
Mr. NUSSLE. Let me assure the gentlelady that I will do that and that I will speak with the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Wolf, who I believe is the chairman or the co-chairman of the Family Friendly Committee, and ask that he also contact the board and that we visit a little bit about this.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Ms. Norton.
Ms. NORTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. GILCHREST. Mrs. Seastrand.
Mrs. SEASTRAND. Well, Mr. Nussle and Mr. Brownback, I think all of us perhaps remember the old movie, the first ''Indiana Jones'' film and the way it ended. If you recall, the cart was taking the Ten Commandments to one of the Government facility warehouses. Knowing the chuckles throughout the movie theater when I saw that film reminded me when I came here, when we were talking about taking inventory of our properties. I think American people across this Nation who I heard chuckle in that film and say, ''Yes, that's the way it is,'' want us to take a look at our priorities, and so I applaud you on what you have done here and I'm anxious to hear the input from people today as to direction to go on this.
I'm sorry I was delayed, Mr. Nussle, but am I to understand the parents that have their children in this day care facility are very concerned, they have expressed those concerns?
Mr. NUSSLE. And I would be. Anyone who has a child in the center should be concerned. It is their child. It is their child care center that they rely on for that service. Many of themI would say all of them, except I'm not 100 percent sureall of them, I believe, are our employees. Some of them are even Members of Congress.
I know of people that are on the waiting list
Mr. WISE. It's my understanding just one Member of Congress presently is at the child care center. All the rest are staff and employees.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. NUSSLE. I know there is no preference. There is a lottery or some system
Mr. WISE. There is absolutely not. It is a lottery for infants and toddlers.
Mrs. SEASTRAND. So I'm to understand this is the only child care center that we have of this type on the Hill?
Mr. WISE. For the House.
Mr. NUSSLE. For the House. That's my understanding, yes. So yes, I
Mrs. SEASTRAND. So there is room for expansion, also, for
Mr. NUSSLE. It's not so much should they be concerned
Mrs. SEASTRAND. It's the anxiety as to what
Mr. NUSSLE. Yes. I would be anxious if I was a parent and that was my day care center.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mrs. SEASTRAND. And perhaps that was the wrong choice of words, the anxiety and so on, but you have been hearing from these parents and I'm glad to hear that they'll be inputting, so I thank you.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mrs. Seastrand.
Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you very much.
Mr. Nussle, let me hasten to applaud you for the efforts to streamline and to cut costs. You indicated in your earlier remark that transitions are going on and no one has seen it.
Mr. NUSSLE. Sometimes.
Ms. JOHNSON. Yes. I was just going to say that I'm feeling it. I'm not able to get my bills paid and collection agencies are getting a lot of private enterprise activity because they seem to just go there and stay, and I would hate to think that we're not checking this kind of thing out as we move forth.
I am assuming that you've done some kindI'm a businesswoman. I'm assuming you've done some kind of study to indicate that it is more profitable not to have this day care at this location, that maybe there might be a lot of vacancies, maybe we're losing money. Or is it supplemented anywhere? Or is it sustaining itself?
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. NUSSLE. Because we operate it and we own it, therefore we subsidize it. I say this with respect because, of course, there are some that would suggest that the privatization of the child care may be an option. That's not necessarily an option that we looked at, but there have been many privatization options that have been considered. Possibly they could do a better job.
I would say that it is not, therefore, a pure cost/benefit analysis dollar-for-dollar that you can do, and the reason is because of some of the other comments that your colleagues and my colleagues have made with regard to safety. Sometimes you cannot quantify, for example, a narcotics deal that goes on in a park across the street, or whatever it might be.
So, as a result, I think that yes, we can come up with a bottom-line figure for you, and I think the Architect is prepared to give you that today, but some of this is unquantifiable.
Mr. WISE. Would the gentlelady yield for just a second?
Ms. JOHNSON. Yes.
Mr. WISE. I'd just point out, in terms of subsidy, it is my understandingbecause I remember writing the checks out on tuitionthere ain't much subsidy in the sense that I believe it is entirely self-sustaining with the exception that the Federal employees' health benefits plan applies to the employees, although they pay their share of the premium. Others can talk about that later, but I don't want to leave the impression that this is a greatly subsidized operation, because it is not.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. NUSSLE. And I don't mean to make that impression, either. That's why I say the bottom lineit may not be as easy just to put it in dollars and cents and assume that that's the only issue.
Ms. JOHNSON. But it doesn't end in red ink?
Mr. NUSSLE. Not that I'm aware of. My understanding is that it has been self-sustaining. I'm not aware that it has had the problems that some of the other agencies have had.
Mr. WISE. No. The gentleman is correct.
Ms. JOHNSON. So the motivation then for our getting rid of it is just that we want it off the inventory and think we can
Mr. NUSSLE. The building, you mean?
Ms. JOHNSON. The building.
Mr. NUSSLE. It is that if, in fact, we have down-sized the Congress to the point where we can better utilize the space in the buildings closer to Capitol HillI mean, this is five blocks offand more safely utilize that space, then I think we ought to consider that. It goes hand-in-glove with our commitment that, if we have the opportunity, we're going to get rid of a building.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We kind of get two for the price of one here. We've got safer space, better utilization of that space, and we get to fulfill our commitment that we sell a building or sell some of the office space, so I think we get two for the price of one.
Ms. JOHNSON. Yes. Thank you.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Ms. Johnson.
Mr. Traficant has a comment.
Mr. TRAFICANT. I would just like to say that, in addition to all the testimony here, we're setting a precedent. In setting this precedent, a process should be engaged. That process I think should embrace at least the fact that, where space is available that is safe and secure with reasonable access, that, in fact, a sale then could be consummated only upon the direction and the placement of such service within such facilities.
If we have room in one of our House office buildings because of the reduction, it would then be prudent and savings-wise to maybe make such a move, so I would be interested in working as far as the process is concerned so that this precedent would then apply to other activities that might fall into this same scenario.
Mr. NUSSLE. If you would yield, there is a process for where it goes, and that's the House Building Commission, which is made up, of course, of the Speaker, the Majority Leader, and the Minority Leader. That has been a tradition, and I think it has worked quite well. I haven't heard any complaints about it.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The other issue, though, is the one that we'reand that's why I answered the question here before, when asked for my recommendation, and that is that you establish a ''how do we sell a House office building or how do we get rid of real property if we're the Congress?'' because, unless I'm mistaken, there isn't a process.
So there are kind of two separate tracks, and we'll continue to work on the first track with the Building Commission, but the second track is what we need some guidance on.
Like I said, I'd be happy to introduce a bill, bipartisan, however we want to do it, so that we can affect this sale and maybe even move it on the suspension calendar before the end of the year.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Traficant.
I'd like to conclude the first panel with just a couple of comments.
This is a hearing to establish, in part, that process, because we don't know quite how to do it. It is also a hearing to make sure that the process is done correctly and we can justify everything we do without everybody, parents especially, having heartburn.
But it is a process to figure out how to do this for any one of a number of reasons. We save a little bit of money because we don't have a building. We save some money. We have the symbolic gesture that we're down-sizing and becoming more efficient.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
But I can tell you, after walking through the building, that the number one priority here is to ensure that the children have a safe place to go and there is continuity there. I think Mr. Nussle and I have talked about this prior to this hearing, and that's our priority.
But after walking through the building, I realize that we must have at least as good a spotand I'm sure we have better places for the kids, and also the people that work for the Architect. I think we can accommodate them in a better space.
So just to make sure thatI want all the parents that have children in day care to know that our number one priority is the safety and the security and the continuation of that program, and that will be awe will, I think, Ms. Norton, to answer your questionand I think Jim did it, as wellcan we assure you that accommodation will take place? I have no doubts that we can make that assurance.
Gentlemen, I know that
Ms. NORTON. Would the gentleman yield? I appreciate what you said about process, and that this is unprecedented, and therefore we need to figure out how to do it, especially if we want to do it again.
Part of the process generally probably should apply here, even though it probably would be of little moment here. As you know, this committee is always in the process of looking for space that is rented in order for there to be Government-owned space.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
It does seem to me that part of the process, if we are inventing this process here, should be to look not simply at what Congress will do with the day care centerI'm much relieved by the testimony we received here todaybut whether there is some other Federal use that should be made when this committee is constantly pushing the GSA to make sure that people who are in rented space in fact find their way to space that is owned by the Government, and this space is, at the moment, owned by the Government.
Could I beg your indulgence on one thing? It seems to me Mr. Nussle has, indeedif I recall, it was under Mr. Nussle's leadership that an entrepreneurial initiative that I also think probably has never occurred, or at least from the House occurred, and that is when they sold all this crapexcuse methat was lying aroundand, frankly, I wish I hadI had to speak in various places in my District that day, but that was something I wanted to go to see. But I have heard nothing since.
I don't know, for example, if we made any ''moolah'' on that. Was there a cost/benefit so that whoever did it and we had to pay them for doing itwe also came out ahead, inasmuch as you're trying to show that we can, indeed, become entrepreneurial?
Mr. NUSSLE. I never really considered being the transition chairman a glamourous job, but you really put it into perspective for me today.
Mr. NUSSLE. Sellingwell, I'll let the record stand as it is. I believe we madewell, we made off in a couple of different ways. First of all, we reduced the need for the space that it was utilizing, which was rented space, so we were able to empty out a building and get rid of that lease. I believe that saved us almost $400,000 a year. I believe that's how much itI'm pulling that out of the air. I can correct that for the record, if you'd like.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The second thing is that we had a lot of furniture that just wasn't being utilized.
As you know, when we came together as freshmen part of the deal was to look through the basement for your furniture. Whatever was left over, which was basically broken and run down, at the end of the day was then shipped back to this warehouse.
Well, we got rid of a lot of broken-down furniture and some that was actually quite nice that had been stored there, so that's the second part.
The third part is that, yes, we did make some cash on it that then reduced our cost overall. We didn't make a lot. I think, as the gentleman from West Virginia mentioned, this isn'tor maybe it was the gentleman from Minnesotathis is a drop in the bucket. Yes, when you look at a $1.5 trillion budget, it is a drop in the bucket. Everybody would say that. But all of our constituents would say, though, that it adds up. The nickels and dimes add up.
We all know that and we all preach it, but I think on a day-to-day basis we have toas my friend here said, it is maybe symbolic. It is setting an example. But I think it is an important one for us to set.
Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Nussle and Mr. Brownback, thank you so much for testifying. We'll get together later on to make sure that the task force puts together a pretty good process. Thank you.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The next panel will be the HonorableIs Mr. Brazil here? Here he is. The Honorable Harold Brazil, Council Member, District of Columbia.
Thank you for coming, Mr. Brazil. We're here anxiously awaiting your perspective on this issue.
You may begin.
TESTIMONY OF HON. HAROLD BRAZIL, COUNCILMEMBER, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, WARD 6
Mr. BRAZIL. Thank you very much for the opportunity. I'm glad to know that I must have some wherewithal, because I constitute a panel.
Mr. BRAZIL. In any event, I do appreciate your having me. This is, as I'll state in a minute, quite a matter of interest to me, both as a public official and as a resident of the District of Columbia.
I do want to recognize my Delegate from the District of Columbia, the Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton. I have listened with great interest at your questioning, Delegate Norton. I think it was enlightening.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I represent Capitol Hill. Ward Six embraces all of what we know as ''Capitol Hill,'' as well as a portion of Anacostia and the Stadium Armory area, so this is of obvious interest to me because the annex is in Ward Six and on Capitol Hill.
I also happen to live about half a block from the current annex, and I do want to say it is, in my opinionand I think all the other neighborsa good neighbor. It is clean. It is orderly. We are very pleased to have the presence of the Capitol Hill Police there. There seems to be always at least one policeman or woman and that helps in the stability of our area.
We are also pleased to have on my block former Congressman Gus Hawkins and Congresswoman Slaughter.
In any event, I have two particular interests. Maybe before I state those I will say I'm on the City Council here in the District of Columbia. I am the chairman of the Government Operations Committee. These questions of property and leases and use ofproductive use of government-owned property and surplus property I deal with quite a bit. I'm oftentimes sort of in the same position of going against sometimes the administration or sometimes the people in terms of trying to get property that we don't need sold or put to productive purposes, so I laud your efforts in that regard.
I do have some testimony. Maybe I can leave that with your clerk. I won't attempt tolet me give you that, as wellto read that.
One of the things I would just note in the written testimony, I think from the Architect of the Capitol, if you look at the numbers of what youthe net of what you hope to go away with in the sale of the annex is very little, less than $200,000 or less than $500,000, depending on where you would relocate the child care center.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The only reason that I note that is because there may well be other productive alternatives for the use of that property under the current ownership by the Federal Government.
The fact that the child care center is there and at least its budget is balanced and apparently it is very well thought ofthat's certainly my understanding from the community. I looked at the statement from Natalie Gitelman, the director there. She is almost saying this is nationally, if not world-renowned in terms of some of the teaching processes that they use there.
I guess the idea to me is that maybe an alternative is to expand the use of this facility to totally child care, and then, whether you privatize it or whether you keep it under the current management, maybe money can be made in that way.
I know, as a parent of a pretty young son now, that it costs quite a bit, so there are fees there. Maybe if there is a profit that is turned over, that is put in the Treasury, then that may well be an alternative.
It just suggests to me that there may be other productive alternatives than the sale of the property.
It is Federal property. I'm a local official. I don't at all pretend to offer advice. It is not our direct concern.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What is of concern to me is, I guess, first of all this issue of the application of the McKinney Act. If the transfer of this property ends up in that facility/annex becoming a homeless shelter, a homeless facility, a drug treatment center, that, from my perspective as an individual that lives there and as a public official, is anathema. To have another homeless facility or drug facility in Ward Six in this area is not a good idea. Ten blocks away the Mitch Snyder, you've got the Blair Men's Center. We are inundated with socialthe weight of social problems in that area. There is public housing within almost a stone's throw away. We very much don't need a homeless facility there.
I guess my request is to, however you proceed with the disposition of this property, please take care to ensure that it doesn't end up that way.
There are, by the waythere is a day care center maybe four blocks away at Fourth and North Carolina. There is an elementary school at Third and North Carolina. There is another elementary school, the St. Peter's School, at Third and E. You've got a lot of young people that don't need to be exposed to homeless men when they aren't in the shelter roaming around the neighborhood.
The other society equation is, if it isn't turned into a homeless shelter or a drug center, what is going to happen to it?
I was heartened by your remarks, Chairman Gilchrest, that you were going to take into accountI think you alluded to the zoning and other kinds of regulations on a local level that would apply, other than that being a Federal facility, so I'm heartened by the fact that those regulations will come to bear because the real concern that I have is that the neighborsthe District of Columbia, and the local persons of interestthat they have an input into the process, and that their voices will be considered so that we don't end up with a correctional facility. That's another thing I guess that could happen, since the law would allow local governments to come in and maybe purchase the property at a discount.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Those are the two things that I'm very, very concerned with: first of all, that it not be a homeless shelter; and, second of all, that we, the local citizens, have a meaningful input so that if it is sold or turned over, something compatible with the neighborhood will be placed there. I trust you will look out for us in that way, as well as I know my own Congressperson, Delegate Norton, will do.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much, Mr. Brazil.
It will be a difficult task, but I think in a bipartisan way we will be up to ensuring that all interests are taken into consideration as we go through this deliberation.
Mr. Oberstar, do you have any questions, sir?
Mr. OBERSTAR. I appreciate your very deep concern speaking on behalf of the people in the neighborhood. The whole idea of taking thiszeroing in on this building sounds a great deal like the grinch who stole Christmas. It just doesn't make any sense at all to me to say we're going to sell the building to say that we sold a building that an agency of Government owned.
Mr. BRAZIL. The dollars aren't there.
Mr. OBERSTAR. We've probably got the votes to do it, we're going to do it, butand I greatly respect Chairman Gilchrest for looking to an orderly process by which this deed will be done. In the process, it is extremely important that those who live in the neighborhood and those who represent those who live in the neighborhood be heard. All too often those voices are trampled on.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I have been around Washington long enough to have stood on that side, on the other side of the Southeast/Southwest Freeway before there was a Southeast/Southwest Freeway, and looked through the broken windows of those tenement buildings that once were there when I was a graduate student, and looked at the Capitol framed in that broken glass. I thought, ''What a tragic comment this is on our Nation's capital. We have such wretched poverty.''
And then came urban renewal, and then came the construction of the highway, and everything was supposed to be better. What happened to the folks who were there? They moved out and were moved into worse poverty. Their condition didn't improve. Life didn't get better for them. Higher-priced buildings were put in the place. Congested roadways took the place of part of those buildings.
I don't know what good is going to come of selling this building, but not a heck of a lot, in my judgment.
Mr. BRAZIL. I appreciate your comments, Congressman.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Oberstar.
Ms. NORTON. Well, I want to welcome my own council member, because Mr. Brazil is not only a member of the most relevant committee of the council for this purpose, but I am also a resident of Ward Six and he very ably serves his Ward.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I do want to say to Mr. Brazil that I don't think you have a thing to worry about if your worry is that the 104th Congressional majority is likely to give anything it doesn't have to to the homeless.
Ms. NORTON. You can just put that aside.
Let me ask you, though: you obviously know the Hill as a business person as well as a resident and council member. What do you thinkif this building were sold, what do you think is its most likely use? For example, do you think homes are likely to beif we wanted to sell it and we're looking for some likely buyer, would it be a builder or a developer who builds homes? Would it be somebody who builds office space? Or would it be, for that matter, some other kind of buyer, in your expert estimation?
Mr. BRAZIL. I would think that a residential use may be attractive, or a small office use. I would think perhaps an association or a lobbying group might find that location attractive. It is a relatively small building. I guess it could be either renovated and converted into some sort of residential facility. I think that's more
Ms. NORTON. Was it a house or home before?
Mr. BRAZIL. I think it was for nurses.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GILCHREST. If the gentlelady would yield, it was a dormitory for nurses in the 1940s. It was built for the purpose of being a dorm.
Ms. NORTON. It was built as a dorm? I take it, if it were built for homes, given the real estate values in the neighborhood, that it would be fairly high-priced homes?
Mr. BRAZIL. I would think, if it was homes, they'd want to raze it and then build some row houses, I would think. And I don't know if the dollars and cents work there because it is an odd-sized lot.
Ms. NORTON. That's really my question. My question is: this would be a nice thing to sell, but who would want to buy it?
Mr. BRAZIL. Again, that brings back this McKinney Act, because if you can't and you really want to dispose of it, then you're going to startyou go down that road if you don't sell it for profit, and that's why I'm very concerned. I honestly don't know the market. It is a good location in the sense that it is close to where we are now, the Capitol. But, on the other side, as Mr. Oberstar alluded to, not very far from there you have some very blighted areasnot far, like a block or so. That may well affect its value or its marketability, I guess you would say.
Ms. NORTON. Have your constituents who live in the area expressed any view to you about what alternative use they would consider to be most compatible with the neighborhood?
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. BRAZIL. I think we all were more in a state of fear and panic when we read ''The Hill'' or one of the publications that said Congress is considering putting a homeless facility there. That sort of put our blinders on to anything else.
I know row houses or some compatible residential use would be acceptable, and probably some small office use, such as an association or that kind of thing, would be compatible with the neighborhood.
Ms. NORTON. Could I then just say for the record that I'm sure you will agree with, Council Member Brazil, and that is: if we own the land and we own the building, for God's sake sell the land, too, so it can go on the tax rolls of the District of Columbia.
Mr. BRAZIL. Absolutely. As you know, we need all the revenue that we can get. I guess the Federal Government and the District government are in the same game in that wayvery much so.
Ms. NORTON. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Ms. Norton.
Mr. Brazil, we appreciate your coming in to give us your perspective on the proposed sale of the building. I think you can be assured that the land will go with the building.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. BRAZIL. Thank you very much.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you.
The next witness is the Honorable George White, Architect of the Capitol, who also makes up a panel by himself.
Welcome, Mr. White.
TESTIMONY OF HON. GEORGE M. WHITE, ARCHITECT OF THE CAPITOL, U.S. CONGRESS, ACCOMPANIED BY BILL ENSIGN, ASSISTANT ARCHITECT OF THE CAPITOL
Mr. WHITE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
If I could, I'll take just about 30 seconds to say what is in the nature of a valedictory, in that this will be the last hearing at which I will testify as Architect of the Capitol. The first one was the first week of March of 1971. In the 25 intervening years, it has been a rich and fulfilling experience. I must, if I could, just for the record, express my gratitude at the opportunity of having the privilege and the honor of having served as Architect of the Capitol.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GILCHREST. If you will yield, I won't use up any of your time. I was just handed something that might be interesting to all those present and certainly should be read into the record.
The Honorable George White, this is your last month of service as the Architect of the Capitol after serving with distinction for 24 years. You have presided over the construction of the Hart Office Building, the Madison Building, the Marshall Building, the acquisition of the Ford Building, the O'Neill Building, and, of course, the annex under consideration for today.
We do want to extend our hearty congratulations. I would have had a bushel of steamed crabs here, Mr. White, but the restrictions prevented me from doing that.
Thank you very much.
Mr. WHITE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Just one other comment. I remember when I first came here that Mr. Blatnik was the chairman of the full Public Works Committee and Jim Oberstar was the staff director for the committee, so a lot of things have happened in 25 years. Our hair has gotten a little whiter and a little thinner.
Mr. WHITE. In any event, Mr. Chairman, having said that, let me brieflyI have a brief written testimony, which has been distributed to the committee, and I'll be very brief in referring to it and then I'll be here to answer any questions.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Just let me say one other thing. I have with me Bill Ensign, who is the Assistant Architect of the Capitol who, after November 21st, will become the acting Architect of the Capitol until such time as a formal appointment is made. The office will continue. I guess that's the message.
The property you are familiar with, of course. You know where it is and its shape, since you've been there, and I think others have been, as well. It has some 38,500 square feet of land, and the building, which is two stories, contains 23,300 square feet in that space, just to put it in perspective in terms of size.
It was acquired in 1986 from the General Services Administration, who was about to sell it or otherwise dispose of it. They didn't want it any more. We thought it would be a useful addition to the Hill needs at the time, and it has served that purpose very well since 1986. It was acquired under public law 24 of the 84th Congress, which was sometimes called ''The Additional House Office Building Act of 1955.''
It will take legislation, as you are well aware, to dispose of it. There is no authority anywhere to dispose of property in the Legislative Branch, so your comments are very appropriate in terms of developing some system, some method, some procedure.
We have obtained information which is in the report or in the testimony because two appraisals are to be made of the site, a preliminary appraisalone which was in the initial stages of the concept of the possibility of selling itand as time went on we had a more-detailed appraisal made, and we have averaged those two in order to determine the value of the property, which amounts to $2,350,000, building and land. I believe that is presumed to raze the building; that is, demolish the building and put townhouses in there, which is the highest and best use of the land. That's the basis on which the appraisal was made. The value, of course, is dependent upon what can be put on there, and that's the highest and best use, according to the appraisers.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Of course, it will be necessary to relocate the activities which are already in there, which have been described earlier: the child care center, as well as the Architecture and Engineering Divisions of our office, as well as our Construction Management Division, which is all located in the balance of the building. I think we occupy something like 17,500 square feet of the building, and the day care center is some 5,700 square feet. It needs a little more space and has needed that for several years in order to be able to grow in accordance with what our understanding is the needs that they determine.
We have determined what it would cost to move the child care center either to the O'Neill Building or to the Ford Building. In the case of the Ford Building, some detailed layouts have been made working with the child care center people; that is, the staff and others there. It wasn't done in a vacuum.
Furthermore, we designed the center as it is now. We also designed the Senate Child Care Center, and also the Library of Congress Child Care Center. We have some experience in the design process, in any event, but nevertheless worked closely with the people so that they would have an input into what is being proposed.
So we have a fairly detailed cost for moving to the Ford Building. We haven't done the same thing with the O'Neill Building. We have used some of the costs from moving to the Ford to moving to the O'Neill, plus some square footage costs for the O'Neill Building based on what would need to be done on a broad-scale basis. We do not have a detailed layout in the O'Neill Building. That would have to be accomplished at some point.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As you can see from the funds that are shown here for cost, moving a child care center to the O'Neill Building is $1,500,000. Moving it to the Ford Building is $1,200,000. That includes a new playground, it includes all the things that are necessaryplumbing, etc.to accomplish that process, not only just moving, but modifying the building in order to have a proper place for the use.
We have an estimate of $525,000 for moving the Architect of the Capitol staff to the Ford Building. It is a minimal kind of cost because we don't require specialized plumbing and things such as you would have in a child care center. It is basically drafting rooms and office space, so the cost is fairly minimal. That, again, is done on a square foot basis.
There will be some marketing costs and costs of the sale, and then we have noted there a potential gain becausethere is an asterisk after the words ''potential gain.'' If you will note under there it says, ''Annual maintenance and security savings, approximately $300,000, would accrue as a result of the disposal of this property.''
So the present value of 20 years' worth of $300,000 is really a capital improvement in the sense of monetary gain, because we wouldn't have to do that if we move into the other buildings. They are already being maintained and there already is security in the other buildings. We wouldn't have to have a police officer as a separate entity. That's the way that cost was determined.
I might also say that, if it is decided to sell the building, we need to move people out of there. We need to have funds to provide for the new facilities to move, for example, the child care center to the Ford Building, so that the money from the saleyou can't wait for the money from the sale in order to spend money to provide the new facilities in order to move them out, so legislation needs to provide some authority for using funds either from another source to be replaced by the sale money when it comes in, or some such arrangement as that. I mention that as a consideration if it is going to be sold.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Our appraisers estimate the marketing time for the disposal of this property at approximately 12 months. Our office has the in-house capability to manage the sale of the property. We have done a lot of purchasing, but we have dealt a lot in real estate and in leasing. I'm confident that the office knows how to sell it. We would, of course, need to have services of some marketing consultants to assist us in the effort. It is a one-time sort of proposition, but we could do it in-house. In other words, there would be no need to go to GSA, from our standpoint.
That, Mr. Chairman, concludes my statement. I'll be glad to try and answer any questions you have.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much, Mr. White. I'm sure GSA will be very glad to hear that we don't need their services for the sale of this property.
I do appreciate the amount of information that you gave to us. I'm sure it will be very helpful for the Members in making their considerations.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
George, I have a heavy heart at the thought of your departure. I wrote you a note quite some time ago when it was first announced. I consider you not only Architect of the Capitol, but a very dear friend, one who is a friend in the sense of a professional friend, as well as a person that I respect personally for the values that you have carried with you all these years.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
As the chairman said, you have done more than preside over the construction of new buildings on the Senate side. It was under your tenure that the Bermidi Corridor was completed in the House Wing of the Capitol, a 20-year effort that culminated in that beautiful corridor-long fresco; the refurbishing of the eye of the dome in time for our bicentennial of the Constitution; the refurbishingand it was a massive structureBermidi would have been proud, and it was really something to see that scaffolding and just imagine how he must have felt climbing up a wooden structure every day for 11 months to lie on his back and paint the apotheosis of Washington. And the refurbishing of the Bermidi fresco that is so astonishing, the last 30 feet of which was completed, of course, by students from his school; the Bartholdi fountain in the little park across from Rayburnthe reconstruction and rebuilding of that, and having the mayor of Strasbourg, the home of Bartholdi, here for that event; the reconstruction of the botanic garden, and now the west front that was in such terrible state of disrepair, and all the hubbub about what should be done. You came up with a concept, with an idea that was restrained, it was sensible, and it put that west front in beautiful shape. It was about to buckle out and collapse. Pieces of the balusters had been falling off for years, endangering passers-by; and, of course, the Statue of Freedom atop the dome; and now this last great work of rebuilding the east front steps.
Do you know that 20 million bricks went into the construction of the Capitol? All of them were made right here on the ground. This is research done by our Architect of the Capitol.
And he's the first one of this century to be a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Others were engineers. You're the first architect to be the Architect of the Capitol. You brought great distinction and great honor to that position, and you've kept these buildings in beautiful shape. Would that other landlords did as well.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We'll miss you greatly, but your legacy will live long after your tenure here. Other generations will come to see this great monument to freedom which is our Capitol Building.
While I'm sad that we're having this hearing about this rather minuscule, rather insignificant step being taken, it has given us an opportunity to paint a picture of a real monument
Mr. WHITE. Thank you, Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. OBERSTAR.someone who has made a great and lasting contribution.
Mr. WHITE. Thank you very much.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Now to the mundane.
Mr. GILCHREST. Would the gentleman yield just for a second?
Mr. OBERSTAR. I'd be glad to yield.
Mr. GILCHREST. I think what we ought to do, Mr. Oberstar, because of your eloquence, is to send Mr. White a copy of the transcript of this hearing, and then, in addition, take those kind words and put them in a frame and present them to Mr. White at some appropriate time, since you two have served so well for so many years.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I yield back.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you. Had I known, I would have thought about what I was going to say ahead of time.
Mr. OBERSTAR. But it is easy to speak from the heart about someone who has done so much.
Where would you relocate the functions of the Office of the Architect?
Mr. WHITE. We would relocate those in the Ford Building, which is where we were before we moved into 501 First Street. We'd go back where we were. That's a perfectly acceptable place to be, and we did very well there. We moved there in order to make space available for other uses, and those uses have now diminished, and so there is space available back in the Ford Building and we would move back.
Mr. GILCHREST. And you say your tabulation sheet shows that there would be space available in either the Ford or the O'Neill Building to construct a child care center
Mr. WHITE. Yes.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. OBERSTAR.of comparable size or larger size?
Mr. WHITE. We would make it larger in either case. We would make it somewhat larger, because that's the request of the child care center for some additional space, and once we're moving it, we might as well make it the size that they need it.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Yes. In disposing of the building, do District of Columbia zoning regulations come into play and the Historic Preservation Committee play a role in who succeeds who and what type of structure will be put in its place?
Mr. WHITE. The Zoning Commission certainly becomes involved. There is no zoning on it now because it is Federal property. When the Federal Government vacates a piece of property, then zoning must be applied.
As you may recall, the Architect of the Capitol sits on the D.C. Zoning Commission by law, and I sat on it for 19 years, and Bill Ensign has been sitting on it for the last five or six, so we have an input into the zoning process.
I might also add that, as a part of our master plan, which was submitted in 1981, we recommended that an overlay zone be placed within six blocks of the Capitol back into the neighborhood, which would prevent anything from being built there which was outside of the R4 use district and also below a certain height. I think it was 40 feet, if I recall. That was done by the Zoning Commission in response to the master plan, somewhat influenced by the Architect of the Capitol. But, at the same time, it was done as a protection for the neighborhood.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So there would be a limitation as to what could be placed there, even though the zoning would be applied by the Zoning Commission. It would be within the zoning envelope that already exists, is my presumption.
Mr. OBERSTAR. How long would it take to construct a replacement facility?
Mr. WHITE. I don't know. That is, of course, a private sector interest.
Mr. OBERSTAR. No. I mean a replacement facility for the day care center to accommodate space either in the Ford or O'Neill Buildings.
Mr. WHITE. I believe we could probably do it within a year.
Mr. OBERSTAR. There is certainly no urgency of selling this building, so it could stay as is.
Mr. WHITE. It would probably take a year to sell it anyway, and the sale could be contingent upon the removal, or title could be transferred at a later date after the sale. All of those things are possible to arrange during the sales process.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Just recently, Mr. Chairman, when we had, as you recall, mark-up on our contribution to deficit reduction, we, on a bipartisan basis on the committee, proposed the sale of air rights at Union State. OMB came back and said they didn't believe sale could be consummated in a year, and that the sale of the air rights would not yield the value the committee assigned to those rights based on estimates from CBO.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So clearly we have got a similar problem here. I would hope that there would be no precipitous move forward.
Mr. GILCHREST. If the gentleman will yield, I'm not sure ifafter having toured the building and after having considered other options for the people that are in that building, I think it is best for all involved to find better space, bigger space in the Ford Building, but I don't thinkand we talked earlier about symbolism and the value of the sale and how much we would gain by not having to accrue the maintenance of the building on an annual basis.
But I don't think involved here is a sense of urgency to sell the building and hold it up to the public in any particular time frame.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much. I would just conclude by saying if the starting premise had been as you have just said it, that this facility is inadequate for the purposes for which it is being held, and that better space should be sought elsewhere, and we should make every effort to have a better day care, I think the whole structure of the discussion would have been more positive and constructive. But starting out with the premise, ''we should get rid of a building so that we can say we've done that, we've gotten rid of a building, we've made Government smaller and we made this little down payment on the deficit,'' just really sounds like the grinch who stole Christmas.
But if we took the chairman's lead and said we looked at this space, it really is inadequate, we ought to get better space, it has a totally different air, and I appreciate your outlook.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Oberstar.
Mrs. SEASTRAND. It is my understanding that this building was acquired by Congress in 1984. When did the child care center go into the building?
Mr. WHITE. The building was acquired in 1986.
Mrs. SEASTRAND. In 1986? Okay.
Mr. WHITE. And the child care center went in, I think, in 1987, very shortly thereafter.
Mrs. SEASTRAND. How much did it cost to move in the child care center, and what kind of costs are we talking about?
Mr. WHITE. In 1987 and 1988 it cost $117,000 to provide for the child care center.
Mrs. SEASTRAND. Obviously this was something that was started? There was no child care center prior to this?
Mr. WHITE. That's correct.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mrs. SEASTRAND. Obviously, it is going to cost a little more than $117,000.
Mr. WHITE. That's right. It is now a differentcosts have changed.
Mrs. SEASTRAND. Yes. Thank you.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mrs. Seastrand.
Ms. NORTON. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate Mr. White's testimony.
I want you to know, Mr. White, that I wish you well and very much appreciate the cooperation you have given my own office.
The process that the Architect described for obtaining the building reinforces the point I made earlier: that they got the property in the first place because GSA canvased Federal entities to see if anybody had a use for it, and I do believe that again I say this should be built into this process, as well, and that the Congress should not opt out of this process, especially when the Congress has insisted that entities in private space go into Government-owned space.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
How much did you pay for the property, did Congress pay for the property?
Mr. WHITE. We didn't pay anything for it. It was already owned by the Federal Government and the jurisdiction was transferred.
Ms. NORTON. So there is no quid pro quo involved whenever such a transfer is made?
Mr. WHITE. There might be in certain circumstances. For example, the land that we took from the District of Columbia under that same act that are now some parking lots was from the Redevelopment Land Agency, which had become an agency of the District of Columbia, rather than the Federal Government at that time, and we paid the District of Columbia for that land.
Ms. NORTON. I should hope so, Mr. White.
Mr. WHITE. So it is generally true, however.
Ms. NORTON. From your testimony involving the cost of moving and renovation, I take it you agree that there would be no savings involved in making the move to the annex or O'Neill Building or any of the rest?
Mr. WHITE. You mean no savings on an annual operating basis?
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. NORTON. Yes, as between where you are now and the renovations, for example, that would have to be paid to accommodate the child care center and to move the child care centerwhole new facilities and the rest would have to be built.
Mr. WHITE. That's correct, and those numbers are reflected in the written testimony. So if you were to sell it to the private sector for $2,350,000 and then move to new facilities, either in the O'Neill or the Ford Building, and move our staff to the Ford Building, the results of all of that of our move to the O'Neill Building would net $185,000. A move to the Ford Building would net $485,000. We're talking about capital improvement and the monies from sale.
In terms of annual maintenance, there is a savings of approximately $300,000 annually by not having this building to maintain and to provide security for.
Ms. NORTON. Although you have to provide security and maintain
Mr. WHITE. It is already there.
Ms. NORTON. And you don't envision any more security will be necessary with a child care center there?
Mr. WHITE. No, because there are police officers at the entrance to every building. In this building, since it sits there by itself, there has to be a police officer there for this purpose.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. NORTON. May I ask you about your willingness to conduct the sale? If we're talking about efficiencies and know-how, the GSA testimony is clear that in dealing with GSA, as opposed to the Architect, you're dealing with a practiced and long-experienced agency when it comes to property disposal. Indeed, they have a property disposal group, and you've never disposed of property before. Why in the world would anybody want $140,000 cost to be attributed to you for marketing consultants and the rest when we've got the GSA here who knows what they're doing and might be able to do itI should think would do it for no cost to the Government, since it would only be one pot to the other?
Mr. WHITE. That is entirely, of course, up to the Congress to decide. I just merely said that we would be happy to do it if that's what you decide to have us do, and we think we can engage competently in doing that, and I'm sure GSA would be helpful to us, as they always are, if we need information or advice and counsel.
Ms. NORTON. I'm sure you would do it, and do it well.
I do want to say to the chairman that I hope that, if this is done, for efficiency sake we certainly allow the agency with the expertise rather than hire outside consultants to do what we already do as a matter of course every day.
Could I just ask one more question, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. GILCHREST. Yes, ma'am.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. NORTON. Has anyone ever suggested that the services of the Architect of the Capitol be privatized?
Mr. WHITE. In the
Ms. NORTON. Since the 104th Congress came into power?
Mr. WHITE. Yes, and, of course, about 43 percent of the money that we spend every year is done in the private sector. We hire outside architects and engineers, for example, for major projects. We hire outside contractors for major projects. So we do a lot of that right now, and we're expanding to do even more.
Ms. NORTON. I note that the ranking Member indicated the good job you have done with these facilities. I want to say that you did that job because Congress was willing to appropriate money for these historic facilities; otherwise, whatever your own personal talents or experience and abilities, we would not have been able to do that.
I would also like to say for the record that consulting in the way you have indicated with outside architects, engineers, and others is entirely appropriate and the way the Government operates, anyway, but I would certainly hope that no one would ever suggest that for the Capitol and its grounds there would ever be anything but an official Architect of the Capitol. I thank you for being that Architect.
Mr. WHITE. Thank you very much.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. NORTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Ms. Norton.
Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I, too, want to preface my question by a few remarks.
It is gratifying to approach the Capitol and the Hill and see the beauty of its buildings and the colors that are beginning to be more vivid within the interior of the building. I just imagine that prior tocertainly prior to my coming, but even further back, everything was pretty blue and white or red and white, and we've got a little mixture now, and it is much more vivid. The flowers are tremendous and the building certainly has been preserved very well.
Are there members of your staff with you here?
Mr. WHITE. Yes.
Ms. JOHNSON. Could they just indicate who they are?
Mr. WHITE. Bill Raines is my administrative assistant; Bill Ensign, who I introduced earlier, is the assistant architect; I think our general counsel is here, Ben Wemberly; and Bruce Arthur, who works for Bill Ensign, is part of our Architecture Department; and Dan Hanlen, who is our director of engineering, is right behind me; and Stewart Pregnal is here, who is our budget officer.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you. I want to express my appreciation to all of you in all that you do. You certainly are representative of the past. We are, however, moving into a more vivid future, and we want to embrace our present as well as enhance what might be available.
We are America here. This is America's chief office. It ought to be reflected in the diversity of this office.
We have vivid colors and genders that make up our great Nation, and I'd like very much to have that reflected in this office as we move toward our future.
We're talking about a day care, which is the future of our Nation. I just imagine that when you start to design it, it would be good to have a mother who is also an architect to help with that.
My question now is: how did you arrive at the appraisal? Do we have some potential buyers or someone who has suggested perhaps, or did you just decide that might be the best and most cost-effective and most beneficial financially to the Government to have condos or some kind of upper-scale housing, and therefore then can ask for a better price?
Mr. WHITE. We asked the appraisers, and I think we useddid we use GSA? We used the GSA appraisers. We didn't give them any direction. We said, ''How much is it worth? What is its fair market value? What is its highest and best use?'' Then it was up to the appraiser to make that judgment.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. JOHNSON. Are there potential purchasers? Are you aware that there might be?
Mr. WHITE. We don't know. We haven't
Ms. JOHNSON. Don't know. Okay.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much, Ms. Johnson.
Mr. White, thank you for your testimony. I'm sure you are well aware that we wish you all the best.
Mr. WHITE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate it.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much.
Our next panel will be Mr. Gordon Creed from GSA and Ms. Natalie Gitelman, the executive director of the Capitol Hill Child Care Center.
Thank you very much for coming, and we are anxiously awaiting your perspectives on this facility.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. GITELMAN. I have some pictures of the center and the children in the center.
Mr. GILCHREST. We'll pass those around to the Members that are still here.
I would also like to say that maybe a father. I was always pretty good at changing diapers and
Ms. JOHNSON. And there are a lot of grandfathers represented in this office.
Mr. GILCHREST. Ms. Gitelman, you may go first.
TESTIMONY OF NATALIE GITELMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CAPITOL HILL CHILD CARE CENTER; AND GORDON S. CREED, DEPUTY ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, OFFICE OF PROPERTY DISPOSAL, PUBLIC BUILDINGS SERVICE, U.S. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
Ms. GITELMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and committee. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to tell you about the House of Representatives' child care center.
I am the founding director of the center, Natalie Gitelman. I have a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Massachusetts and a master of science in education degree with a specialty in administration and supervision of early childhood programs from Bank Street College in New York. I have completed additional graduate work in early childhood at the University of Maryland, George Washington University, and Bank Street College.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
My experience as a teacher and an administrator of early childhood programs spans 30 years and includes work in independent schools, parent cooperatives, five and a half years with the HeadStart program in Newark, New Jersey. And before coming to the House, I was the founding director of the United Nations Child Care Center in New York, and then I served on their board of directors.
I am also a former vice president of the Congressional and Federal Child Care Center Directors Association, and an active member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, our accrediting organization.
The child care center was authorized by a resolution passed by the House early in 1987. I started as director of the center in April of 1987, working closely with the original board of directors on the start-up of the center. The center opened on its target date, September 1, 1987, with 18 children and 11 staff members. Since that time, we have added children, added classrooms, added staff, and added a lengthy waiting list.
The center boasts five classes with 52 children ranging in age from 10 weeks to 5 years. There is a full-time staff of 18. While we have empty spaces in our 3- and 4-year-old classes, our infant, toddler, and young toddler groups are filled.
One year after opening our doors, the center achieved its financial mandate from the House to operate within a balanced budget. We have continued to follow that mandate every year since our opening. The center pays all operating costs from its tuition from parents.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Until 1991, the center was run as a nonprofit corporation with a board of directors determining policy. In October of 1991, the center became a part of the House. All employees became House employees, and all equipment was turned over to the House.
At the same time the center became part of the House, the board of directors became two boards with essentially the same members but with different officers. The first is an advisory board to the center and to the center director, and that board is appointed by the Speaker and the Minority Leader. The second board is the board of the House of Representatives Child Care Center Foundation, a separate nonprofit corporation which is the fund-raising source for children at center in need of financial aid.
Supervision of the child care center was initially under the Clerk of the House, then the Director of Non-legislative and Financial Services, and currently the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer.
Enrollment in the center was and is open only to children of employees of the House of Representatives and, on a second-priority basis, to children of other legislative agencies.
Tuitions at the center are determined by age group and range from $550 a month to $810 a month. There is no discount for siblings.
Teaching salaries at the center range from $16,500 a year to $30,000 a year. That highest salary is the salary for a head teacher who has a master's degree in early childhood education, 7 years of teaching experience at the center, and 6 years teaching experience before that. Employees pay their own portion of benefits and receive only longevity and not merit salary increases.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The excellent reputation of the House Child Care Center is well-preserved. The center has maintained its accreditation by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs since it was first conferred in 1990, and our program has served as a model for establishment of other centers.
We have inquiries and visitors from across the country, as well as from other countries, who come to us for counsel and advice on how to establish and run similar programs.
We have requests from the University of Maryland, George Washington University, and Georgetown University to have their students observe at our center.
Ernest Boyer, who is head of the Carnegie Foundation Center for the Advancement of Teaching, says, ''Keeping children stimulated rather than just controlled is essential in developing their capacity to learn.'' The House Child Care Center is not a babysitting service. Our babies are early walkers, they are early talkers, and they are becoming early confident learners. It is a happy place for children, and if it is a happy place for children, you know it is a happy place for parents.
The center has offered seminars for parents on a host of topics, including: child development, first aid, toilet training, choosing a kindergarten, and others. We even have children who cry when it is time to leave the center at the end of the day.
As delightful as the atmosphere is for the children, the center's physical facilities are barely adequate. The space at the center needs to be expanded and renovated. The center currently occupies approximately 55 [sic] square feet on the main floor of the building at 501 First Street Southeast. The rest of the building is occupied by the staff of the Architect of the Capitol.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
There is a small, oddly-shaped outdoor play area. This fenced area has a great deal of unusable space, necessitating use by only one small group of children at a time.
I speak for all of the staff at the center, as well as myself, when I say we are proud and honored to serve the families of the House of Representatives, and we would like to continue our mission of providing quality child care to the children of the Members, their staff, and support personnel.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Ms. Gitelman.
Mr. CREED. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am Gordon Creed. I'm the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Property Disposal in the Public Buildings Service and represent the General Services Administration this afternoon.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the Federal real property utilization and disposal program administered by the GSA.
Before addressing issues of particular interest to the committee, I will briefly discuss the overall objectives of the real property program and the processes which govern disposal operations.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The Federal Property and Administrative Services Act is the governing authority for the disposal of most real property, although the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Architect of the Capitol's properties are not covered.
Under the Property Act, GSA is vested with the responsibility for administering an economical and efficient system for the Federal Government to promote the most effective use of real property by Federal Executive agencies and the orderly disposition of real property it no longer needs.
Under normal procedures, real property which is no longer needed by a Federal agency is reported to GSA as excess real property. GSA first notices other landholding Federal agencies that such a property is available for further Federal utilization.
If we receive a properly-justified request for further use of the property for Federal purposes, it is transferred to the requesting agency. Such transfers among Federal agencies fulfill the Congressional objective stated in the Property Act that GSA minimize Executive agency expenditures for property through efficient and effective utilization of excess property.
If there is no further Federal requirement for a property, it becomes available for disposal as surplus real property.
Under existing provisions of law, eligible State and local governmental units and certain nonprofit institutions may acquire surplus real property for restricted local public purposes at monetary discounts up to 100 percent where such purposes reflect the highest and best use for the property.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Eligible public uses include: public park and recreation, historic monument, public airport, health, education, correctional facilities, wildlife conservation.
Also, in accordance with title V of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, Federal properties deemed suitable by the Department of Housing and Urban Development are made available on a priority basis by GSA, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services, for homeless assistance.
In addition, State and local public bodies may purchase real property by negotiated sale at fair market value for unrestricted use. Property which is not transferred to non-Federal public purposes is generally offered for sale to the public, and the sales are generally done by competitive bid offerings or public auctions. Such sales benefit the locality by placing the property in productive use, returning it to the tax rolls, and providing the taxpayer a recovery of revenue receipts.
Proceeds from the sale of surplus real properties are generally placed in the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is administered by the Department of the Interior For Land Acquisition and provides grants for local park and recreational projects.
In every decision involving the practices I have just mentioned, we are required by law to consider certain environmental and cultural impacts resulting from any proposed disposition. Principally, this is the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, and the National Historic Preservation Act, and certain other relevant statutes. Hence, the GSA real property management and disposal responsibilities constitute an extensive program in which Federal agencies, State and local governments, and the public fully participate in the redeployment of publicly-owned property.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I have reviewed in detail the redeployment process so that you might be able to determine how GSA can best assist in any proposed disposition of 501 First Street, Southeast.
I would, however, like to point out that, over the last 18 months, GSA, guided by private industry, has completely re-engineered its disposal process, cutting cycle time by 50 percent, so that significant savings in overhead carrying costs can be realized. Moreover, in delivering customer service GSA meets and sometimes exceeds the performance measurement bench marks adopted by the real estate industry. It was GSA that was given the role to undertake the mammoth task of privatizing the many military basis and industrial plants that remained at the end of World War II, and today, as a recognized center of expertise, continues to play an equally pivotal role in the down-sizing of the Government.
Thus, GSA's property disposal group stands ready to deliver any and all customer service needs to quickly and successfully redeploy any Federal property, while complying with all public policy laws and authorities.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I will be pleased to respond to any questions you and the members of the subcommittee may wish to ask.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much, Mr. Creed. Ms. Gitelman, thank you for your testimony.
I have some questions, but I'm going to go first to Ms. Norton.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. NORTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just have a few questions.
Ms. Gitelman, from your testimony, I draw the conclusion that you would prefer to move from the present facility. You talk about its inadequacies, etc.
Ms. GITELMAN. Unless it could be renovated and have more space. Then we would be satisfied to say.
Ms. NORTON. Have you any problem with moving to any of the named facilities, and have you any preference as to which you think would be more suitable for the day care center?
Ms. GITELMAN. Yes. If we move, my strong preference is the move to the Ford Building, where a preliminary plan has already been done by a member of the Architect's officewho is a mother, I might add.
You know, I am a builder of minds, not buildings, but my understanding is that there are serious questions about the safety factor of the O'Neill Building.
Ms. NORTON. Serious questions about?
Ms. GITELMAN. The safety factor of the O'Neill Building.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. NORTON. Of the O'Neill Building?
Ms. GITELMAN. Yes.
Ms. NORTON. Thank you.
Mr. Creed, do you think you could market this building and dispose of this property with something less than the functional equivalent of $140,000?
Mr. CREED. Yes, I think GSA could. The appraisal that GSA obtained for the Architect of the Capitol also had additional value within a range of values, and it was given that the property is not currently zoned, but the area is R4 zoning. It is possible that the property could be grandfathered in and have a higher value as a nursing home.
So the cost of sale could be realized out of the proceeds. The amount of money of $140,000it depends upon the current condition of the property. There are certain requirements for checking to see whether the structure is in compliance with CERCLA, involving lead-based paint, and other required laws, and it is a variable at this point. But I think that, as a general figure, would be correct.
Ms. NORTON. Inasmuch as this property is transferred for no cost, I take it your services would not be a cost, or would they?
Mr. CREED. The services would depend upon under which approach we dispose of the property. If the property was transferred under 40 USC 122, which exists within the District of Columbia, the property could be returned to GSA and GSA could dispose of it. Or if Congress chooses to pass a public law that either authorizes the Architect of the Capitol to dispose of the property, GSA could provide the services to the Architect of the Capitol on a reimbursable basis, or Congress could direct the Administrator of General Services to dispose of the property and it would be covered under its own appropriations for that project.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. NORTON. It is important to know that there are these alternatives available for doing this.
If this property would come under the jurisdiction of the McKinney Actonly after, I take it, certain other things had happenedis there a time limit for the holding of property before that would happen? In other words, is Government given a time frame in which it must dispose of property or also go along this route?
Mr. CREED. Currently the property is in the inventory of the Architect of the Capitol, which is beyond the application of the Stewart B. McKinney Act. But if the property were returned to the General Services Administration, then we would recycle the property again, much in the way it was recycled and transferred to the Architect of the Capitol. It would be recycled Government-wide to see if there is any further Federal Government need.
If there is none, then the property would be determined surplus to the needs of the Government, and then it would be made available for certain public policy purposespublic health, public educationwhich would include the needs of the homeless.
Ms. NORTON. I thought they had some priority.
Mr. CREED. That's correct. They do.
Ms. NORTON. And only then to some kind of private sale use?
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CREED. That's correct. In making the property available for homeless purposes, HUD would first need to determine the property is suitable. There is a checklist, and it would review and make a suitability determination. Then the property would be canvased for homeless providers to see if there is a qualified applicant that would seek to acquire the property for provision of homeless shelter.
Ms. NORTON. If I could have one more question, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. GILCHREST. Certainly, Ms. Norton.
Ms. NORTON. I just want to know how many properties GSA has conveyed under the McKinney Act.
Mr. CREED. It has conveyed approximately 45 parcels of property. One of the properties here in Washington, which was the old Federal City College that was transferred to the Mitch Snyder group, the CCNV, was done through GSA.
Ms. NORTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Ms. Norton.
Mrs. SEASTRAND. You had stated that the day care center presently is some 5,500 square feet serving 52 children, and that you are interested in the Ford Building and you would like to expand. What are you envisioning if you were able to move to the Ford Building? What kind of square footage? How many children would you be able to accommodate? What increase in staff would you see?
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. GITELMAN. We would keep the limit to 68 children. We would keep the same staff limit. We would increase in space. I'm not absolutely certain of these numbers, but I think something like another 1,500 square feet.
Mrs. SEASTRAND. So about 7,000?
Ms. GITELMAN. Yes. We have tremendous needs for more space for the existing facility. Our children are in five classrooms, as I mentioned. In a week when it rains 5 days, they are in those classrooms, in the one classroom you belong to, from 8 in the morning until 6:30 in the evening. There is no room for an all-purpose room. They eat lunch in there, they have their nap in there.
There is now one toilet and sink for adults in our facility. There is one in the lobby, but in our facility for 18 staff membersand one of the joys of on-site child care is that you have parents coming down to visit. In fact, we have mothers who are able to continue to nurse their babies, but there is no little private room for nursing mothers. They nurse in the classroom. If a father happens to also be visiting, he's there while she's nursing the baby, too. It is needs like that that we are looking at, hoping that we can improve on.
Mrs. SEASTRAND. If we were to move you into the Ford Building, as an example, what kind of a time frame would youwhat kind of a situation would it be for you for relocation? Have you given that any thought?
Ms. GITELMAN. I've given it a lot of thought. Once the site was completed, that move could be made in a weekend.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mrs. SEASTRAND. In a weekend?
Ms. GITELMAN. Sure. And we would have opportunities beforehand for children to visit the site as it was being constructed so they
Mrs. SEASTRAND. So they could see.
Ms. GITELMAN.could become familiar with it. The construction is a tremendous learning process anyway, and youngsters love to watch that sort of thing.
Mrs. SEASTRAND. Thank you.
Ms. GITELMAN. Thank you.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mrs. Seastrand.
I can't say enough about the day care center, especially after a number of us visited the facility and found it to be a wonderful place as far as the providers were concerned, because I think it provided what you talked a little earlier aboutthe stimulation that is needed to encourage curiosity about this big and wonderful world, and I think you do that very adequately.
Ms. Norton made a comment earlier about wanting to have parents on this board to develop the process. I can rememberand I'm sure all of us remember the difficultywhen I was a younger parent with a child that had to go to a day care center. Finding an adequate facility is extremely difficult, and it is a hard choice for parents to make.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So I think you do a wonderful job in the facility that you have, and I would hope, as this progressesand we certainly can't make any definitive statements at this point, but I thinkand this is a personal opinion on my partthat the O'Neill Building could provide a much better day care facility than you have now. So I hope when we go through all of this we'll make sure you and the parents and the people that work with you are part of that process.
Mrs. SEASTRAND. Mr. Chairman, may I ask one other question?
Mr. GILCHREST. Yes.
Mrs. SEASTRAND. To clarify, the 52 childrenyou say that you have the ability to take 68 children and you have a waiting list? Is it space? Clarify that for me.
Ms. GITELMAN. There are several factors in this. One is, as Mr. Nussle mentioned earlier, the population at the House has been reduced by one-third. So was our waiting list, in fact. There is always a longer waiting list for the youngest children. There are many more choices available for older children, and so, while we have a waiting list for younger children, we can't use our empty spaces for those because essentially you lose money on the younger children. You make it up on the older children. If you take additional younger children without increasing at the older level, you just make itfinancially it is not viable.
Mrs. SEASTRAND. Thank you.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Creed, you made a statement earlier that I'd like you to clarify. As far as the transfer of the property from the Architect of the Capitol to GSA for the purpose of disposal, you made a comment about, at least in reference to the zoning, if I heard you right, to grandfather the property. Could you explain what you meant by that?
Mr. CREED. Two things. One, the existence of the property as a nursing home, home for nurses, part of Providence Hospital, may qualify for grandfathering in newcontinuing that use on the property. It is an issue of law as to whether the absence of that use discontinues the right to use the property again for a nursing home.
Mr. GILCHREST. When you say ''nursing home,'' you mean a dorm facility for nurses?
Mr. CREED. Yes.
Mr. GILCHREST. So since it was used for a dorm facility for nurses in the 1940s, then it is still possible in the 1990s to grandfather that use again?
Mr. CREED. Correct, and that would be the highest and best value of that property. Highest and best use of the property would be for that type of center if it could be grandfathered in on an application either for zoning or with consultation with the District of Columbia. That remains an uncertainty, a variable against which any proposed purchaser would need to clarify.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GILCHREST. So the condition of the building as it exists at the moment, the highest and best use of that building would be a dormitory?
Mr. CREED. Yes, sir. There is one piece of information that came to us that I think is significant, and that is I believe the heating system is tied in with the Architect of the Capitol's system. That may be a factor which a prospective purchaser may want to review.
And, if I may, in response to Delegate Norton, I ran the numbers. We would be able tothe cost of sale for the property would be approximately 50 percent less using GSA. We run between 3 or 4 percent cost of sale, and my numbers show $69,000 would be approximately the cost of sale for that.
Mr. GILCHREST. So you're saying you'd be a little bit more efficient than Mr. White.
Mr. CREED. I'm sure Mr. White is very efficient, but we do these disposals for the Justice Department, the Navy Department, the Army Departmentwe do it every day everywhere all the time.
Mr. GILCHREST. I see.
Mr. CREED. I think the economies of scale can be captured here.
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And, Mr. Chairman, I'd also like to point out that Faith Wohl, our Director of Work Place Initiatives in GSA, wanted very much to testify today, but she was unable to do so. Could I ask that her statement be entered into the record? I note that she points out that she strongly supports your efforts to continue to provide the needed services to Congressional employees for quality child care.
Mr. GILCHREST. That will be done.
Ms. NORTON. Mr. Chairman, would you yield on a question? You just had a
Mr. GILCHREST. I will. I'm not sure what I said earlierI said the O'Neill Building, and I meant the Ford Building. I saw your face when I saidI thought, ''Isn't she happy with that?'' It's not the O'Neill Building. I meant earlierI saw so many other faces, too. I thought they'd be pleased with that, but it's the Ford Building which I meant to say, so we'll make that technical correction in the transcript before we send them off to Mr. White.
Ms. NORTON. Mr. Chairman, I wanted you to yield because of the answer you got in relation to your other question about the home for nurses. It's not nursing home. Mr. Creed replied that was the highest and best use. Are you saying the highest and best use if you do nothing else with the property? If, for example, the property were torn down and houses were used, how would that compare with the home for nurses' use?
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. CREED. In our appraisal of the property, the surrounding area is R4, which means the width of the lots would be 18 feet. R4 does not permit apartment buildings in that neighborhood, so any rezoning of the property is likely to be R4. But if a prospective purchase would look at the property and, judging needed elderly care, someone could seek to continue under the grandfathering provision through zoning the earlier use.
Our appraiser has indicated that there is a higher value than the residual $2 million or $2.3 million if, in fact, the grandfathering of the prior use can be sustained.
Ms. NORTON. So you are saying a nursing home? You're not saying a home for nurses? You're saying if someone wanted to convert it into a nursing home facility?
Mr. CREED. Right. A residential care facility or a residential home.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you. One quick question: going back to the McKinney Act, if GSA disposes of the property, the list of parks, monuments, health, education, wildlife, McKinney Act, and so on, which one of those generally would be on the top of the list or first dibs?
Mr. CREED. If there were competing applications for the property, pursuant to the McKinney Act the application for public health for homeless use would be the highest priority.
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. GILCHREST. I see.
Mr. Creed, thank you very much.
Ms. Gitelman, I'm glad I corrected the O'Neill Building to the Ford Building before you left. Thank you very much.
Ms. GITELMAN. Thank you.
Mr. CREED. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GILCHREST. The next panel will be Mr. Terry Kolp; Mr. Brian Furness, second vice president of Capitol Hill Restoration Society; Mr. Peter Waldron, Chairman, Advisory Neighborhood Commission; Mr. Philip Meany, Jr., President, Grub and Ellis, Board Member, N.A.I.O.P.; and Mr. Steve Chisholm, Chief of Staff, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
I guess we'll start with Mr. Kolp. We have your testimony. You may begin.
First of all, gentlemen, thank you very much for coming. This really isI don't want to over-emphasize this, but I would like to say that this is really an informational gathering hearing so that we can understand how to proceed in a very fair, equitable manner with all the interests that are involved in this situation.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
TESTIMONY OF TERRY J.R. KOLP, ESQUIRE, CPCM; BRIAN R. FURNESS, SECOND VICE-PRESIDENT, CAPITOL HILL RESTORATION SOCIETY; STEVE CHISHOLM, CHIEF OF STAFF, NATIONAL COALITION FOR HOMELESS VETERANS; PETER JAMES WALDRON, CHAIRMAN, ADVISORY NEIGHBORHOOD COMMISSION; AND PHILIP E. MEANY, JR., PRESIDENT, GRUB & ELLIS
Mr. KOLP. Thank you, Chairman Gilchrest.
Let me indicate that you and I know each other because you have been very helpful on constituent matters that I have brought to your attention, and I appreciate that. Congressman Traficant and I have worked together, coincidentally. I was told only you'd be here, so I was more than delighted to see the group. In addition to that, Eleanor Holmes Norton and I were in law school together, if she thinks back and remembers some years ago.
Mr. GILCHREST. Eleanor Holmes already told us about those stories.
Mr. KOLP. As Eleanor may remember regarding those stories, I had a strong concern about this community. I have been here 20 years. As an attorney, I care about things such as truth and justice and the American way, as I'm confident the Members do.
What brings me here is, as a resident, a citizen, and somewhat an advocate of concerned members of the Capitol Hill community. I'll give you a brief summary and try and stay within the time allotted.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Again, thank you for letting me comment on the public safety, the environmental impact, and the quality of life concerns regarding the Capitol Hill community with regard to the divestment, disposal, sale, or future uses of the building and facility at 501 First Street, Southeast.
I want to indicate that assistance in preparing my testimony and its exhibits was provided by a Capitol Hill Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner who represents over 2,000 Hill constituents and could not be with us today.
I am providing this testimony and statement of concerns and well-reasoned recommendations of the Capitol Hill community for the Congress to consider.
For example, safety and protection were mentioned. The safety of your own office staffers, especially female staff and Congressional employees, all of whom work in the nearby House and Senate office buildings and at the Library of Congress, and many of whom commute from the South Capitol Metro Station and elsewhere in the neighborhood, is certainly a concern, whatever disposition is made of 501 First Street.
If it is a disposition that is made that will encourage criminal elements on the Capitol Hill community, it certainly is a legitimate concern of those of us who own property here, pay taxes here, vote here, reside here, and work here, as well as yourselves and concern for your constituents who visit and your own staff.
Regarding homeless utilization of the Hill, let me make clear that everyone on this panel, some of whom are known to me and those I represent, are certainly people of compassion and concern about disadvantaged members of our society, both here in the city and nationally; however, the Capitol Hill community has already been negatively impacted daily by a very large homeless population in relation to its size, many of whom are drug addicted and/or in various altered mental states. Some are also pathologic violent criminals who pose an even greater risk to the Capitol Hill community.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
One of the homeless individuals I make reference to and who frequented the Capitol Hill area for more than a dozen years is Mr. Leon Vincent Diggs. Mr. Diggs is a multiply-convicted violent criminal who most recently has been arrested again and indicated for the brutal murder of a longstanding Hill resident whose husband was one of the reporters for the ''New York Times'' for more than 20 years here. She was the 78-year-old Elen Briggs Ramsey, affectionately known as ''Briggsey'' both by her neighbors and also the entire 101st Airborne Association, and that is because she was a nurse and volunteer in Europe in World War II. She is one of the few women to have been awarded the Bronze Star Medal and other decorations for gallantry, driving an ambulance under fire at both Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge.
I was involved in apprehending for the third time, as the article attached to my testimony indicates, Mr. Diggs, who was negligently let go by the District of Columbia government after he had been arrested and indicted for murdering Mrs. Ramsey.
A few moments ago I asked you to think about the impact of the homeless on children. Before Diggs was arrested for the murder of Mrs. Ramsey, he used to reside in the Folger Park, situated right across the street from the Brent Elementary School, and only a short distance from this building and the proposed site at 501 First Street.
Even though Mr. Diggs no longer frequents that area, because he is incarcerated, as I said, now for the third time, other homeless individuals very recently have posed a continuing threat to this community.
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Inviting more homeless individuals to Capitol Hill and potentially more crime has yet another negative impact on the Hill, as has been documented. Many more Capitol Hill residents and business owners may leave unless the aggravating negative factors are reduced or removed. It is also unfair to impose additional burdens, as will likely result from a proposed conversion of 501 First Street for homeless shelter, on the already over-worked, under-paid, under-supported Metropolitan Police Department assigned to the Capitol Hill area, as well as further undue burdens on the U.S. Capitol Police and the U.S. Park Police, who are also assigned to patrol the area.
In closing, on behalf of myself and many other citizens for whom I speak, such as the Pennsylvania Avenue Proprietors Association, the Community Empowerment Policing Groups, and the Capitol Hill Association of Merchants and Professionals, I wish to make it very clear that we do have a longstanding, caring compassion for others in our society, including the homeless and otherwise disadvantaged. I personally have been generous and helpful to many homeless and disadvantaged people in this city in my capacity as an attorney and as an advocate and as a private individual from my own resources.
Real compassion and generosity must also be coupled with responsibility and a recognition that this Congress has, yes, a responsibility under article I, section VIII, of the U.S. Constitution for the jurisdictional authority of the District of Columbia. That jurisdictional responsibility means a responsibility. I think it means putting things in balance in terms of that building, albeit it small, is representative, quite frankly, Mr. Chairman, of your Congressional obligations to the other 260 million people who support this Government and for whom it is representative, and it should not be narrowly focused on concerns of the District that are parochial, but it should certainly balance the rights of the citizens of the District and of the full-time members of the Capitol Hill community.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Lastly, we urge Congress to look into other positive uses for the property at 501 First Street. We also would ask the Congress to please seek relevant advice and consultation from the neighborhood groups I have made reference to, the other points of wisdom here, and regarding any prospective disposition of the property to ensure the future actions of it and the pattern that you made reference to regarding other Congressional properties, which may well also be surplused for very valid reasons, that their disposition is consistent with positively contributing to the public safety concerns of this city, which are paramount, unfortunatelythe environment and quality of life of the Capitol Hill community, for those of us who reside here, work here, and all constituents who will visit here.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much, Mr. Kolp.
Mr. FURNESS. Obviously, I ask that my testimony be included in the record, if I need to do that formally. Thank you.
Mr. GILCHREST. Yes. It will.
Mr. FURNESS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the panel.
My name is Brian Furness, and I appear before you today as second vice president of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society.
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Capitol Hill Restoration Society, by way of background, is one of the largest and oldest civic associations in the District of Columbia. Focusing on the Capitol Hill community, the Restoration Society has been active in the areas of historic preservation, land use, zoning, planning, and public safety for 40 years.
The Restoration Society played a key role in establishing the Capitol Hill Historic District in the 1970s and in the preparation of the Ward Six comprehensive plan, both of which are important to protecting the quality of life on Capitol Hill.
The Restoration Society has also served as a major community interlocutor on issues involving Congress and its relation to the Capitol Hill community.
I, like many in this room, was touched by Mr. Oberstar's remarks on the long record of George White. The Restoration Society worked with Mr. White and with his staff in the process that resulted in the master plan for the Capitol of the United States, which focused the future development of the Capitol on a north/south axis, rather an eastward into Capitol Hill's residential neighborhoods.
We come before you today to comment on proposals to dispose of the 501 First Street, Southeast, annex currently occupied by the House Day Care Center and certain offices of the Architect of the Capitol.
Let me say that the Restoration Society takes no position on the sale of the property, itself. Private or Congressional ownership is not of overriding importance, as long as the uses are appropriate to the surrounding neighborhood and as long as management is responsive to neighborhood concerns regarding proper maintenance, traffic, parking, noise, cleanliness, and congestion.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Thus, our concerns are not with ownership but with use. Let me say at the outset that we have heard no neighborhood objections to the annex' continued use as an office and day care center; however, we, like others who have testified before you today, are frankly alarmed at recent press reports suggesting that Congress would mandate use of the property for a homeless shelter, a drug treatment facility, or a job training center.
We are unpersuaded that any of these uses are appropriate to or consistent with the predominantly residential character of the adjacent neighborhood. Moreover, we are not aware of any studies or data that support the need for such facilities at this location and, indeed, Capitol Hill and Ward Six already have a disproportionate number of homeless shelters and drug and offender-related residential facilities. Many believe these facilities contribute significantly to increased crime and a general decline in neighborhood security, as my colleague on this panel, Mr. Kolp, has already testified, and others will after me.
We believe strongly that any decision to locate these kinds of facilities in this location in this residential neighborhood should be made only after extensive study in consultation with the community on possible neighborhood impact.
We are also opposed to disposing of the property in a manner that indirectly results in stipulations on its use. For instance, as Mr. Creed has indicated, we understand that transferring jurisdiction to the General Services Administration would result in application of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, which provides that surplus Federal property be offered first to Federal, State, and local agencies, and then to organizations for providing shelter to the homeless under the provisions of the McKinney Act.
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. Chairman, we are also opposed to turning the property over to the government of the District of Columbia. The District government has amply demonstrated grave shortcomings in its ability to manage property currently in its possession, nor does it have the resources to maintain additional facilities.
In a time of government down-sizing, the District government, too, should be giving thought to disposing of property surplus to its needs, not acquiring additional facilities by grant or otherwise.
However, if the property is to be sold or disposed of, we do hope that the subcommittee will consider disposing of the property in a way that contributes to the District of Columbia's tax base, as Ms. Norton so aptly asked.
Irrespective of the merits of using the property for homeless shelter or similar facility, Congressionally-mandated uses would bypass the District of Columbia's planning and zoning laws and regulations. These laws and regulations provide for community and neighborhood input, as well as for redress through the court system.
We see no Federal interest sufficiently important or compelling to override local zoning and land use law and regulation, and we believe very strongly that these mechanisms should not be short-circuited, either wittingly or by default.
In summary, Mr. Chairman, we urge the subcommittee to take neighborhood concerns into account and we are, frankly, delighted that your own testimony and that of other members of the subcommittee recognizes the need to do this.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The Restoration Society believes that, if Congress decides to dispose of the 501 First Street annex, it should sell the property outright without mandating particular uses and without transferring jurisdiction to our Federal Government or to the District of Columbia.
We further urge, Mr. Chairman, the subcommittee to hold the record open for additional comment because of the short deadlines for preparing testimony and for restrictions on the neighborhood's ability to testify.
Finally, we urge the subcommittee to find a way to keep the Capitol Hill community apprised of and included in its plans to deal with this particular piece of property.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would be delighted to respond to any questions that you might have.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you.
Mr. CHISHOLM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have made a couple of technical corrections to my testimony, and I will supply the committee with those.
It is nice to see Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who is my representative here today. I live on Capitol Hill, and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans offices is also here on the Hill.
Page 112 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The disposition of 501 First Street, Southeast, and other Federal property is, of course, of paramount interest to the coalition and other concerned groups. If this property is, in fact, for sale, we have some concerns that we wanted to share with you about that.
First, let me reiterate some basic background regarding our group.
One out of every three of the homeless are military veterans. On any given night we have 250,000 of them sleeping on our streets. These men and women served us in times of peace and war, sacrificing their youth to protect us. Now, when they are weary physically and psychologically, they are ignored by the very institutions they protected.
These Americans needs homes, of course, but at the core they need new opportunities, and that's what my brief testimony has to do with.
It is not the intent of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans to make this into any sort of shelter, and we have never considered such an option. Apparently there was some report on the Hill that our group or another homeless group was considering that, but I'm not aware of the source of that article.
As the committee determines what proceduresand I know we are in the very preliminary stage of finding out what procedures guide the possible sale of this buildingwe have some thoughts that we'd like to share with the committee.
The Coalition proposes that 501 First Street, Southeast, become our Nation's first veteran service outreach centerVSOG. The veteran service outreach center would be utilized by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and other veteran advocacy groups working to address unmet veteran needs. These groups include veteran advocacy organizations concerned not only with homelessness, but such groups representing agent orange medical problems groups and Desert Storm medical-related issues.
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
One of the groups we thought we would work with in this endeavor is the National Alliance of Veteran Service OrganizationsNAVSO. NAVSO represents veterans who served in Vietnam who were exposed to agent orange, and those veterans who served in the Gulf conflict and were exposed to toxic substances.
How the first veteran service outreach center is created is still very much an open question. It is clear, however, that this subcommittee can provide real leadership in Federal property conversion.
Specifically, the coalition recommends the following: 501 First Street, Southeast, could be sold at a substantially reduced price to a corporation that intends to donate its space or part of its space to the coalition and similar groups.
Two, 501 First Street, Southeast, could be leased to the coalition and its partners at a substantially reduced rate.
Threeand I know we've talked a lot about symbolism here todaythree, 501 First Street, Southeast, could be donated outright to the coalition.
Any of these three options would be a very powerful symbol the Congress couldand any savings over which was made for this for the Federal debt would pale to the kind of symbolism that this use implies.
The coalition recognizes that this Congress, rightfully so, has emphasized reducing the Federal debt; however, the coalition believes that this property, located on Capitol Hill, can help to create more employed veterans. This would be an investment in veterans, their families, and the organizations that represent them. The services that the coalition will offer are a direct extension of veterans' affairs services at a reduced cost and provided by a community-based organization.
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
This committee can help provide the impetus for the coalition acquisition of this property. The committee's effort will help reduce the national debt by creating an outlet for services that will lead to greater economic opportunity for these veterans and their families.
Specifically, the veteran service outreach center's multi-programmatic efforts may include some of the following: job training, job counselling, housing referral, child care referral, nutrition information, benefits counselling, and other services. We have no suggestion anywhere that this would be used for a shelter, but we do consider the possible use of this as an office of empowerment for veterans.
We need to re-empower these veterans and their families to improve where and how they currently live. The coalition believes that the Nation's first veteran service outreach center is an empowering idea. It brings together veterans' groups and community-based organizations to help veterans in need.
The coalition believes it is both unwise and unrealistic to expect the Veterans' Affairs Office to provide every required service for today's veterans. As members of this committee are well aware, this has proven not to be a cost-effective way to operate. A large bureaucracy simply cannot address all of the individualized needs of these veterans.
The coalition further envisions these centers to be a public/private partnership. The small veteran advocacy groups, along with some financial support from corporate America, can provide a much-needed service at a small amount of money.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
This subcommittee can seize the opportunity to help America's less fortunate veterans in a cost-effective and multi-dimensional way. These organizations which would work out of this building provide not only needed services for these veterans, but can share much-needed technical assistance with other service providers.
Mr. Chairman, I am reminded of our Nation's experience with the G.I. bill of World War II. It worked through directly investing in veterans, bypassing a large bureaucracy. These men and women will be able to retool themselves and be able to do for themselves what no one else can.
The building at 501 First Street represents today's opportunity to empower veterans to take care of themselves. I understand we're still very much in the preliminary stages of what disposition methodology will be used with this property, but we want to share our very early concerns and some possible suggestions on what could be done with this property.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to speak on behalf of America's veterans.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Chisholm.
Mr. WALDRON. Mr. Chairman, Delegate Norton, and members of the committee, my name is Peter Waldron, and I appear before you as a 27-year resident of Capitol Hill; as the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in whose district lies the Capitol and the House office buildings and the community that would be affected by any changes in the property at 501 First Street; as the chairperson of the ANC 6B, which represents the greater Capitol Hill community; and as a member and Chair of Beat 24, a community group which works closely with the Metropolitan Police Department.
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I speak to you today on behalf of myself and my neighbors and the many Hill staff and Members of Congress who also live and work in this community. We are, in many ways, bound togetherthe Congress and the Hill communityby our work and where we make our homes. I believe my views are representative of the majority of my colleagues on the ANC 6B; however, the issue has not come before us, and so the commission has not yet taken an official position on this matter.
There are a great many in our community who are disturbed by the rumors that have flown about these past few weeks concerning the possible sale of the building at 501 First Street. We do not wish to dictate to the Congress how it should dispose of surplus and excess properties; however, we fear mightily the impact of the McKinney Act.
These are very difficult days in our community and in the Nation, at large. In the grand scheme of things, our worries must seem minor and inconsequential compared to the problems you are expected to solve and the demands made on your time and resources. But it is important to remember that, although we have, sadly, no voting representation in this Body, we are as much, each of us, the American community that each of you represents.
We, like our fellow citizens across the land, have made and will continue to make the sacrifices that the larger American community has made. We have lived and expect, if we read the papers correctly, to live through a great many more changes as the political process works its will in our city, the District of Columbia.
But we ask that you give great and serious consideration to the concerns of this most special of American communities, the residents of the Historic District of Capitol Hill. We live proudly in a neighborhood that is racially mixed, and yet suffers and endures daily all the ills of urban living. We fear not the homeless. They are already here on a daily basis. Our fear is of an overnight shelter or an increase in the problems we already have of car washers and break-ins during the working hours.
Page 117 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We have in our community a substantial number of tax-paying residents. We have in our community a disproportionate number of shelters, half-way houses, and programs to help the very troubled, those struggling both economically and with all that afflicts those who live in the world of poverty and crime.
There are three major public housing properties on the Hill. A few blocks away, at Fourth and North Carolina, there exists a church program that feeds 100 homeless people each day.
We share a double burden of paying high taxes for services we often support, but whose effectiveness we often question.
In these past few years, the entire community has organized itself into police beats that work closely with our police department to prevent the crime that destabilizes all communities. We do this not because we love going to meetings at the end of our work day, but rather because our concerns are grounded in experience.
We love this place, the Hill, this neighborhood that we live in. It is our home. Yet, it is often under attack by forces we find intolerable.
It is our hope that the decisions made concerning the building at 501 First Street be given a great deal of thought. It is our hope that any decisions that Congress makes will give great consideration to the immediate and surrounding community. We fear that if this committee is not careful, that the Capitol Hill Historic District, protected by the laws Congress has passed to preserve this special national neighborhood, could, because it stands precariously, as all urban communities stand today, become destabilized by the casual disposition of this property and begin to lose the battle it has so far waged so successfully to remain vital.
Page 118 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We ask you to support us in this regard. We ask that you give great consideration to the surrounding community's hopes and fears as you move forward in this process. And if, indeed, a decision is ever made to sell the property, we would ask that you include neighborhood representatives in the selection of a purchaser and in the planning of any future use of the property.
Thank you very much.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Waldron.
Our last guest here this afternoon is Mr. Meany.
Mr. MEANY. I'm afraid I'm about to change the thrust of these four esteemed gentlemen. I had, through staff in my own company, volunteered to the staff of your committee to provide advice with regard to disposition of property. I'm come as president of Grub and Ellis. We are a commercial real estate firm. We specialize in consulting, management, and marketing of properties, and wanted to perhaps throw some ideas before the committee with regard to the property and what might be done in its disposition.
To outline the qualifications, I am president of Grub and Ellis of Metropolitan Washington, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Grub and Ellis Companies. Grub and Ellis Companies is one of the top three commercial real estate firms in the country. We are the largest independently-owned firm in the country, and we are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Page 119 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We provide consulting, management, brokerage, and marketing, as well as consulting services to many Fortune 500 companies with regard to disposition.
When Congress started to discuss the downsizing of Government, it sounded very similar to the experience we have had in the last 5 years since the recession of the downsizing of corporate America, which we have been quite involved in, and thought that maybe we could shed some light on the eventual disposition.
Among discussions has been the day care center. One of the things that we wanted to make sure was outlined is that the day care center could perhaps even stay on the property as a restriction on the sale of it, if there was not an existing preferable location for it to go.
Another was that we had heard numbers bandied around of close to over $100 a square foot for the replacement construction for the day care center, which is not very far off of what the cost of a new building would have been for them on the property, and we were concerned about how those costs had been broken down and didn't know if perhaps a private bidder might be able to provide day care at the site with a quality facility equal to what was expected, and wanted to bring up that potential.
The other was to talk about time lines. We had been given the impression that there was some discussion about trying to move or sell the property within the next 12 months, and other experts have correctly stated that it is possible to sell it within a 12-month period.
Page 120 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
It is perhaps possible to sell the property sooner than that through a couple of different methods that we wanted to bring up.
The most typical way to market a property, as you know, is to retain a broker, put out a marketing program, and go forward to look for interested parties and divulge the necessary information to those parties, push them to make offers, but they don't have any particular time line, so things get played out and they move at whatever speed it is that they, as potential interested parties, would move.
Often, sellers who would like to move a property in an expeditious basis conduct some type of a time line that involves deadlining the purchasers for their bids. There are several methods of doing it. One is to conduct what we in the trade refer to as an ''open cry auction,'' where you advertise the property, that you're going to have a public auction literally on the property at a certain date and provide information, and the parties are pre-qualified and put a bid together that includes their qualifications, and then there is an open cry literally on the steps of the building where bidders come forward.
Of late, in the last several years, that has been quite successful. It has been used very definitely by the FDIC and the RTC in the last few years, and they have sold many properties on that basis. We have acted as a consultant to them on many of those sales.
Since that evolution, we have also seen a new method, which we refer to in the trade as a ''sealed bid,'' where the party that wishes to sell provides a complete package on the property and allows the bidders to review all information relevant to the property, including a package that involves the purchase and sale agreement and all other relevant information to the contract, and all parties who submit bids sign the contract with their bid.
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
What happens is that the seller then reviews those bids and negotiates with those parties and moves forward.
What this does for you is every bidder meets the deadlines, signs the documents, and you can move forward and choose the suitable party. Whatever their use is, etc., is up to you to choose.
An appraisal is done on the property so that you come up with a minimum bid criteria, and that is held privately by the seller.
But it is a very expeditious method and of late, in particular, our company here in Washington put properties on the market last October which we sold by December 31, 1994, so it was all conducted within a 3-month period. I just wanted to submit that as a potential method for you to think about doing.
It could be conducted by the Architect's Office, the GSA, or by private company providing the services.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much, Mr. Meany.
Ms. Norton, do you have any questions?
Ms. NORTON. No, I do not, Mr. Chairman, except to thank you for the broad participation from my own constituents that you have allowed on this panel. It reflected the variety of points of view, I think, in the Capitol Hill community well. For me, and I think for the community, this testimony was a very important part of this hearing. I think it clarified many matters that these witnesses did not know before they came here. They have sat patiently in order to absorb the testimony, as well as to give their own.
Page 122 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I do want to say what really needs to be said. First let me, by way of disclaimer and as a matter of pride, say that, although I am a fourth generation Washingtonian, it is on the Hill that I have lived for the past almost 20 years, and I have to tell you that this communityits business community, its nonprofit community, and especially its residential communityis the most loyal in the District of Columbia.
This is a diverse neighborhood, which means the people who live on Capitol Hill have bought into all the urban problems, on the one hand, and also into one of the most beautiful and neighborly and community-oriented neighborhoods, on the other, and they have done their cost/benefit and decided they love it. When there is crime on the Hill, when there is mischief of one kind or another on the Hill, it is absorbed by Capitol Hill residents in the most extraordinary way.
You meet people on the street at the Eastern Market or at the park on 11th Street and they complain, and you say to them, ''I understand what you're going through, but please stick with us. Don't leave us.'' They say, almost invariably, ''Congresswoman, I would not think of leaving.''
These are people who pay business taxes, pay residential taxes. These are the residents of the United States of America who have only one State that pays more per capita in Federal income taxes, and that is New Jersey. These are people who could cut their taxes in half by moving across the line into Maryland and Virginia.
I point to the Capitol Hill residents more so than to residents in other parts of the city because there are many parts of our city where there is absolutely no crime, where there is absolutely no evidence of big city life.
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I just want to say I appreciate the interest of my constituents. I know that they understand that there are balances to be made here because they have seen these balances made in their own neighborhood, and I want to thank them personally for very informative testimony and for taking the timeunpaid timetypical of Capitol Hill residents to come and stay so long and offer this testimony.
I particularly thank you for your indulgence, not only of them but particularly of me.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Ms. Norton. You are a wonderful person. You go over your time a lot, but that shows you're really into the subject. It is worth it.
Mr. Meany, I think we may take advantage of some of your interesting proposals for an expeditious disposal of the property if and when that is warranted.
Gentlemen, I really appreciate your perspective on the residential area of Capitol Hill, and all of your testimony and all of your thoughts will be very seriously taken into consideration.
I had just a quick couple of questions for Mr. Chisholm.
Would this beyour proposal, VSOC, is that a national headquarters? Your vision is for that organization to be a national organization for homeless veterans? A center for that organization would be here in Washington?
Page 124 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. CHISHOLM. Correct, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GILCHREST. Could you tell usI was reading in Mr. Furness' testimony some of the facilities that are already available in Ward Six as far as rehabilitation and spaces for foster care and beds and retarded and elderly and homeless, and so on. Those facilities are available.
Is it your understanding that those facilitiesyou are not looking for a homeless shelter? You're not looking for a rehabilitation center?
Mr. CHISHOLM. Correct, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GILCHREST. You are looking for a national center for this veterans' organization to try to coordinate other centers from around the country to assist homeless veterans?
Mr. CHISHOLM. Correct. This would be the group that represents not only homeless veterans, but the agent orange, the NAVSO group that I mentioned to you, and other veterans' advocacy groups. There are a lot of them around the country that come to Washington to do legislative advocacy or technical assistance. They have no office space. That would give them this opportunity to have a presence in Washington.
Many of these very smallI'm not referring to the traditional veteran service organizations that you are very familiar with.
Page 125 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. GILCHREST. This would be a representative from a homeless veterans' organization in a different State that would come and visit the facility?
Mr. CHISHOLM. Yes, and they would also maintain a Washington presence this way.
Mr. GILCHREST. Could you tell me, is there some type of difference between the path a veteran would take and a non-veteran would take that find themselves homeless?
Mr. CHISHOLM. The short answer to that is yes, because they are availed of certain benefits through the VA structure that other homeless folks simply aren't. But traditionally what happens is we have so many different avenues, streams of how we try to help the homeless.
Today the Domestic Policy Council at the White House had its first annual symposium on homelessness, which we welcomed. All the Federal agencies were present there, as well as the homeless veteran advocacy groups, the homeless advocacy groups, all here in Washington met.
What was stunning to me is that they said the typical homeless person that is helped can get sourcesone of the groups that spoke there, the National Alliance to End Homeless, talked about to run its programs getting 37 streams of funding sources. To help a homeless person or to help a homeless veteran, we tend to go to a lot of different places in the Federal Government as well as in the private sector.
Page 126 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
But a veteran can avail themselves of something that a homeless person can't, and what we try to do isso often these folks will not talk to the VA. We try to be the first step to let them do that. The vet centers, which you may be familiar with, Mr. Chairmansome folks have said to us, ''There is a vet center on Capitol Hill.'' There is, and it does a very good job. That is limited to psychological counselling and PTSD counsellingpost traumatic stress disorder counsellingfor veterans who have encountered those kind of problems.
It does not address what we have seena whole host of problems now associated with folks with the agent orange thing. Congress has acted very strongly in that regard, but still there are a lot of folks that don't realize they have some of these problems.
But we would hope that they would share that space with us, and some of the groups havethis is obviously very preliminary discussions. I'm not saying we have any deals with other coalitions.
What I'm suggesting to you is that some of the coalitions that we work with very closely have expressed an interest in perhaps having space there if it was possible.
Mr. GILCHREST. What I think I need to work atall of us do, I guess, in a lot of different areas, and I appreciate your testimony, and I think I would like to continue to consult with your perspectiveis the difference between a homeless vet and a homeless person. I hope that we wouldn't continue to go down two paths and separate the two groups, because very often I think the same conditions that caused the very often psychological problem which leads to homelessness is very similar in both groups.
Page 127 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I was justmy thought here today was to get another perspective on the difference between the two groups.
Mr. KOLP. If I may interject something?
Mr. GILCHREST. Yes, Mr. Kolp.
Mr. KOLP. Chairman Gilchrest, you know there must be some great wisdom to the founding fathers' democratic approach and the idea of you having committee hearings. Coincidentally, Mr. Chisholm and I did not know each other until this morning. We met at his initiative at calling me because he had heard I was going to testify. I heard he was, and we were both thinking we were at completely different sides of the same issue.
The information I had of G2 was that he was in favor of entirely just adding 1,000 or more homeless people under the guise of being veterans at 501.
So, to correct the record, I, again, was very willing to go talk to him. I must be a reasonably good lawyer because I wanted to talk to him in advance of coming here this afternoon, and he agreed it was a smart thing for both of us to do.
The point is that we found that we have many more areas of agreement than disagreement, and even in my role as an advocate for the community. I happen to also be a Reserve colonel and I'm a veteran, and I'm more than sympathetic to the veterans' perspectives.
Page 128 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There may well be a way in which the community and his group can press for a VSOC alternative that is very consistent with the community's concerns. Again, we didn't realize this until this morning when we talked. It is very consistent with, I think, the Congressional responsibilities of, ''Hey, this is a piece of the Nation's property. How can it best be disposed of or subsequently utilized?'' And, third, in a way that contributes to the community here and its proximity to Congress and doesn't denigrate from it in any way.
At any rate, it is a very interesting coincidence. We thought we were going to be at loggerheads, totally 180 degrees apart, and he and I are not, as a result of getting together this morning.
Mr. GILCHREST. I'm glad you two met.
Gentlemen, we certainly appreciate your testimony and your time and your patience. Please feel free to call on us with any further discussion on this topic you may have. We will keep you continually apprised of the process as it develops.
Thank you very much.
The hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:50 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned, to reconvene at the call of the Chair.]
Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC