New Year's Post #3: an illustration of the decline of the federal role in DC's real estate market (at least right now)
There is a great op-ed, "Listening to the Founding Fathers" by conservative Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson discussing the dominance of conservative discourse by "no government" (my term) positions, that there is no appropriate role for federal government in society.
It's reasonable to have different opinions and attitudes about the role and especially the size of government in our society. But true conservatives ("liberals" in the old terminology) weren't against government and saw a role for the provision of public goods in the context of a market economy.
As I have mentioned a bunch of times over the past year, the dominance of the US House of Representatives by the Republicans and especially by Tea Party types has brought much of local federal government-related real estate development to a standstill, outside of deals that fit within the standard pricing parameter that don't require extra-normal review or participation by Congress.
It means that the National Science Foundation wasn't in a position to get approval to pay higher lease rates to stay in Arlington--so they are moving to Alexandria.
It means that the original plan to create a Homeland Security campus at the west campus of the St. Elizabeth's complex in Southeast DC continues to stumble along, as approval of agency projects other than the original project to put the Coast Guard headquarters there don't seem to move forward ("GSA priming pump for round two at St. Elizabeths," Washington Business Journal).
I missed this piece, "Consumer bureau headquarters renovation plan gets GOP flak," which ran in the Los Angeles Times, about how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a financial regulatory agency, can't get the appropriations it needs to renovate its aging facilities because Congresspeople against regulation of the financial industry see this as a way to hamper the agency's activities. From the article:
The 35-year-old building would be renovated to include a state-of-the-art public lobby with "interactive kiosks and 21st century learning centers," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), then a White House aide who headed the consumer bureau's organizing, said at the time.
But nearly three years later, the bureau's seven-story home remains just another drab concrete-and-glass Washington office building — stuck in the mid-20th century. ... The $95-million cost of the renovation has become the latest rallying cry for Republicans still trying to restrict the bureau's power and alter its structure under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law that created it.
"This is simply an egregious example of waste and Washington bureaucrats living a life much different than an average American," Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said of the renovation costs. "It shows a complete disregard for the taxpayer."