Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, August 19, 2011

New D.C. government agency will oversee real estate, capital projects

is an article in the Washington Business Journal, and it discusses how DC is combining its property management and real estate activities for agencies into one supra-agency, modeled after the federal government's GSA.

But given how badly many DC government agencies are at property management, for years I've joked that DC's primary property management strategy is "demolition by neglect," and how badly the government seems to be at running big agencies, and how bad the government seems to be at running services that ought to be relatively manageable ("Report: D.C. special-ed bus system is unsafe" from the Washington Post), I have some concerns that this is the right step.

Allen Lew, now the City Administrator, gets lots of props from the connected ("An ode to Wilson High School" from the Examiner), for his management of the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization, but auditor and inspector general reports found many problems (e.g., "Lew disregarded contracting rules, audit says" from the Examiner).

This article from the Post, about 5 years ago, is worth re-reading, "The Price of Neglect." It discusses how most of the facilities modernization projects handled by the US Army Corps of Engineers for the DC Public School System starting in the late 1990s ended up being destroyed through lack of maintenance.

In the past, Council Chair Brown has commented that the city does a pretty good job with maintenance, judging by how the Dept. of Real Estate Services handles maintenance of City Hall.

Hmm, don't you think that DRES pays extra attention to that building, considering that all the elected officials are based there?

I think the city did a fine job with the restoration of Eastern Market after the fire. In fact, I think the city's program manager for that project (Curtis Clay) deserves massive commendations.

But I look at various school grounds, DPR facilities, other demolition by neglect situations, and I get scared.

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