Loose Lips

14th and Blue

Abandoned offices, secret trysts: D.C.'s Reeves Center isn’t aging wellAbandoned offices, secret trysts: D.C.'s Reeves Center isn’t aging well

Pity the poor ghost of Frank D. Reeves.

Reeves was a prominent attorney who helped successfully argue for the desegregation of public schools. He advised President John F. Kennedy on minority affairs. He was the first African-American nominated to serve on the Board of Commissioners, the precursor to the D.C. Council, and the first African-American Democratic National Committeeman. He also helped a young civil rights activist named Marion Barry beat charges of destroying government property.

Reeves, a man who took full advantage of life’s opportunities, died from a stroke at the age of 57 . But his namesake, the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center at the corner of 14th and U streets NW, is an eight-story, 500,000-square-foot basket case that stands as a symbol of wasted opportunity and government dysfunction. When Barry’s administration pushed to construct the building in the 1980s, the goal was to help spur the redevelopment of U Street, which had been devastated in riots in 1968, then left mostly ignored for more than a decade. The Reeves Center, and the opening of Metro’s Green Line, helped do the trick. The neighborhood is booming, with condos, fancy bars and restaurants, and boutique shops galore. Now, 25 years after it opened, the District’s own parcel of real estate feels like it’s been left behind.

Visit the Reeves Center on a rainy day, and you’ll find buckets in the lobby collecting water. If you’re feeling creative and good at math, try and make sense of the third floor’s office numbers, which go in the following order: 302L, 303A, 326A, 327D, 327B, 351D, 332C, 332A, 330.

Abandoned offices, secret trysts: D.C.'s Reeves Center isn’t aging well

On the seventh floor, you can see what it would be like if the Rapture happened and only took employees from the District Department of Transportation. DDOT decamped for spiffy new modern digs on M Street SE in Navy Yard earlier this year. In its wake, the agency left a depressing maze of high-walled cubicles, outdated furniture, stained carpet, and plenty of trash.

Things LL found left laying out in plain sight included: A bottle of prescription cholesterol pills; a 2004 performance review of a senior street sign installer (“Supervisors are concerned about [the employee’s] lack of job interest”); and a thick file marked “New Convention Center Hotel.”

But LL could have found much worse. A recent report by the Inspector General found that a DDOT employee “engaged in sexual activity” with another city employee on several occasions in a Reeves Center office and in a city-owned car in the parking garage. (Emails obtained by Washington City Paper detail the trysts.) So add the office sex scandal to the leaking ceilings and an entire unused floor when tallying up the recent indignities as the Reeves Center ages.

* * *

Abandoned offices, secret trysts: D.C.'s Reeves Center isn’t aging well

On the second floor, there’s a less juicy mystery. Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham appears to have a constituent services office there. The room has a conference table, a handful of computers along a wall (under a sign that reads, “Computers will only be used for job search related activities”), and a small private space. On the glass wall, a sign reads “The David A. Clarke Community Center, Jim Graham, Councilmember, Ward 1.” (Clarke is a former council chairman.)

There’s also a sign on the third floor of the Reeves Center that says the office for “Ward 1 Neighborhood Services” is in room 325. Room 325, however, doesn’t exist.

The office on the second floor was provided to Graham by the city, which by law has to provide councilmembers with free space, when available, for constituent service in their wards. The idea is that residents shouldn’t have to trek down to the Wilson Building to get help from their councilmember’s staff.

The problem is: Neither Graham nor his staff actually use the space. Instead, he’s loaned it out for several years to an organization called All Faith Consortium.

All Faith is actually two organizations, a nonprofit and a separate for-profit company. All Faith Consortium Inc. is a social-services nonprofit, whose main focus is operating the Qi Life Center, a dorm-like residence for about 20 veterans, in Ward 7 off Benning Road.

Marvin Muhammad, the head of the group, says his organization operates a full-service help center out of its Reeves Center office for residents who need help with rent assistance, finding jobs, or other problems. Whenever a Ward 1 resident needs help, Muhammad says, “we make the office available.”

“It’s a community center,” says Muhammad.

City records indicate that All Faith has used the Reeves Center as its address since 2004.

During its lengthy stay in the municipal building, the group has kept a very low profile. LL spoke with several social service providers active in Ward 1, and none of them had ever heard of the group.

Roxana Olivas, who works next door to All Faith’s office as the city’s director of the Office of Latino Affairs, tells LL that in her first nine months on the job (often working long hours), she only saw All Faith’s space being used once. (She says the office has been busier in the last week since LL started asking questions.)

During several visits to the Reeves Center in the last two weeks, LL often found the office empty and never saw anyone but a lone All Faith staffer in the office. Last week, Muhammad invited LL to visit whenever he wanted, and even said LL could help man the phones to answer incoming requests from needy citizens. But when LL dropped by on Tuesday, an All Faith staffer told LL that he needed to direct his questions about the space to Graham’s office.

“I have no comment,” said Graham, before hanging up on LL and, later, sending a curt email to LL’s bosses complaining that LL was asking questions about the office.

Abandoned offices, secret trysts: D.C.'s Reeves Center isn’t aging well

All Faith’s other endeavor is a for-profit firm whose goal is to win federal procurement contracts in information technology and other fields; Muhammad says proceeds help fund the nonprofit. Both groups list the Reeves Center as their main address on records filed with the city’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. On its website, the for-profit version of All Faith also says it has offices on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

Muhammad says his for-profit firm does not do a lot of business and doesn’t actually have a physical address. Tax records indicate that Muhammad was paid $80,000 for running All Faith’s nonprofit branch in 2009, the last year for which IRS papers are available. He says he doesn’t live in the District and declined to say where he resides, but notes that he’s often traveling for work.

“I’m out hunting for government opportunities for contracts,” he says.

The arraignment between All Faith and Graham has caused some heartburn among officials at the Department of General Services, the new city agency responsible for running the District’s buildings. Why? Well, there’s the fact that there’s no contract between the city and All Faith for it to use the District-owned space. City law requires that organizations competitively bid for city-owned offices unless there’s a clear reason for a sole-source contract.

With acres of empty square footage available, All Faith isn’t the only organization at the Reeves Center that’s gotten a free ride in city space. The District is currently trying to force out Municipal Deli, a convenience store located on the first floor of the building that sells mostly gum, snacks, and sodas, along with a random assortment of other daily needs like individual rolls of toilet paper, bleach, and panty hose. The city says Fitwi “John” Tekeste, the store’s owner, owes more than $340,000 in back rent dating to 2000. He disputes the amount.

Next door sits the remains of the Emma Mae Gallery, which owner Sandra Butler-Truesdale got to run rent-free for four years. The city nudged Truesdale out of the first floor location a while back, but her stuff—which includes multiple tape decks and a bejeweled miniature lion—still remains.

Up in a corner office on the third floor sits the Office of the City Historian, a District agency that few have heard about. (It’s been around since 1998, but has yet to leave even the faintest trace on the Internet, for example.) The current (and only) city historian is Janette Hoston Harris, a volunteer who also runs the Washington DC Hall of Fame. Harris’ nonprofit organization honors “residents who have had an impact on the city,” according to its tax records. Like All Faith, Harris’ neighbors say her visits to her office are infrequent. She did not return calls seeking comment.

Abandoned offices, secret trysts: D.C.'s Reeves Center isn’t aging well

It’s not all just vacant offices and mysterious long-term leases at 14th and U, though. On the top floor of the Reeves Center sits a branch of the new Department of General Services. The renovated offices include a layout that’s based on function rather than seniority, which means employees who need large desks for rolling out maps have large desks, while folks who just need a computer have smaller work spaces. The cubicle walls are low. The office feels light, open and spacious. There’s a nice break room and kitchen, with stainless steel appliances.

Eventually—though no one’s quite sure when—a similar renovation is scheduled for the abandoned DDOT office, which the Department of Corrections and the fire department will take over. The Reeves Center could still have a future—if only city officials remember it’s still here in the present.

Photos by Darrow Montgomery

Got a tip for LL? Send suggestions to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com. Or call (202) 650-6951.

  • one africa

    Word is the Mayor's Office has offered to forgive the store owner of his back rent issue. seems he has met with someone that has promised to fix it

  • White Dude

    Mr. Gorbachev,

    Tear down this building . . . .

  • Former Reeves Employee

    What a waste of money and potential.
    Is it still infested with rats and roaches of the nonhuman variety?

  • Pete The Lawyer

    way to bury the lede fool

  • stinkinthinkin

    I should have married Sandra Butler-Truesdale when I had a chance for romance she could saved me some finance and I wowould have offered a dance for prance.
    Stupid poem for stupid government leases and favors are just sinful,illegal,wasteful and immoral without any justification to procure (sic) pimp the taxpayer in this city.

  • anon

    This should be the easiest development decision the District could ever make.

    It isn't like DC needs the office space. The place is more than half empty as it is.

    Put it up for bid, they would get a couple dozen high priced offers the next day.

    I personally think it would be great if it could be turned into a little mixed-use project. Residential/Retail and office, but I will take another few hundreds high priced condos with street level retail any day over the status quo.

    City gets the property back on the tax rolls, everyone wins.

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    The Reeves building didn't contribute to the improvement of either 14th St. or U Street. Other things had to happen for the revitalization climate to change. It could have, maybe, if the building was different.

    Much of the change in climate was driven by the Whole Foods Market and developer response, plus the decreased inventory of development opportunities in the CBD and revaluation of U Street because of the Metro proximity and the entry into the market by Donatelli.

    This is a blog entry on the topic from 2006:

    http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2006/01/reeves-center-myth-revisited.html (although I referred to the building as urban brutalist and it isn't)

    Also see this one from 2005:


  • Rich

    Whole Foods is too far away to have made an impact here. The area made slow changes starting with its emergence as a hipster hangout in the 90s as Adams-Morgan lost its edge. Gentrifiers were already there by then.

  • merinayera

    You didn't mention the rats. They're my favorite part of the Reeves Center. They are the size of small house cats and aren't afraid of people.

    Also, I challenge you to spend two to three hours mid-day hanging around outside the building and not conclude that there are really shady transactions that look like drug deals going down curbside.

  • Wrack

    Time for the city to sell this shithole to a developer that will flip it and make millions while providing more useful retail and office space.

  • Mike Madden

    @ Richard Layman --

    Thanks for the note, Richard. The piece credits the Metro opening as well. Not sure I'd agree with you on Whole Foods affecting the immediate area of 14th and U, though -- I remember U Street getting livelier well before the grocery opened, and parts of Logan Circle near Whole Foods being dead zones well after U Street had begun booming.

  • LaughingII

    This city has always and will continue to be it seems run by a hub of degenerates...so they are willing to forgive Mr. Ethiopia of more than a quarter million in back rent but boot the black elderly out of their homes through raising property taxes to unaffordable heights! No one is forgiving those taxes.

    Vince Gray, in addition to your halitosis, which stains your personal character, you need to stop shouting out of that smelly mouth of yours in that ineffective Uncle Tom azz, country azz drawl: I'm TIED (intentional without the "r") of Taxation without Representation. This was your message I believe at the MLK memorial event. How could you possibly believe that DC will acquire this on your watch. Gray, dude, it will never happen because you are not a REAL leader. Obama doesn't give a s**t about you. You know that phucking generational inbreeding has finally come upon you because your brain is turning to mush. Don't you think the topic of every day in every govnernment across this nation (local, state, federal) is how to spur jobs and actually employ qualified folk other than unqualified friends and family. Oh, and don't think Eleanor's ineffective azz has a clue either. All she knows how to do (for decades) is stand her ugly azz behind a podium looking like a female Grady from Sandford & Son talking a bunch of meaninglessness. Eleanor is nothing, has done nothing and this is why Congress treats her as nothing. Poof!

    Vince Gray, if you really want to do something, why don't you take a look at UDC and figure out, if you can, why it has become the University of Carribean Nations, figure out why blacks are being displaced then replaced with those of Carribean descent (and don't even say they can do a better job becasue they cannot even run their own violent little islands or spur economic growth so what makes them think they can be effective here in the United States - Christopher Du Du showed them that!)

    What a sick azz city!

  • Hillman

    This building is a massive wasted asset. Due to it's stunning mismanagement we lose,what, several million a year in tax revenue?

    Yet the Gray administration (and, admittedly, the Fenty folks before him) allow this mess to fester?

    And Gray is insisting we must raise taxes.

    How about we better use resources like this first?

  • PublicInformation

    LL - why do you think Marvin Muhammad refused to tell you where he resides.

    Because Muhammad knows that he and wife are residents of Bowie, Maryland, specifically in a condo development bearing the zip code 20716-3375 which was purchased in 2007. This is public information so why would he attempt to make it private.

    Muhammad didn't want you to know that he's collecting DC tax dollars, supposedly doing work for Ward 7 and living in his nice little Bowie condo. Oh yeah, just taking to Maryland the money he makes off the backs of DC residents!

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    Whole Foods was necessary for the repositioning of the 14th Street corridor generally. What I am referring to is the increase in developer interest sparked by this development, and how it has proceeded, block by block, eastward.

    Similarly, the entry of Donatelli into U St. specifically with the Ellington development sparked a similar progression along 14th St. east of U Street.

    You have to look at this as a process, not "Whole Foods specifically made it better at 14th and V or W" etc., but how the process works overall, and the dissipation of the inventory of the more centrally located and developable parcels spurring development further east.

    (This general issue is why Shaw lags some areas with better transit connections. Until the areas with better subway access are developed, people/developers will move into Shaw more slowly.)

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    P.S. Mike, I would argue that there was a scalar difference between the development and street activity on U Street pre-Whole Foods, e.g., 7-11, the s***** Marvin Jawer buildings at the metro and the strip shopping center anchored by the Rite Aid, and the people attracted by places like Republic Gardens etc. vs. the post-Whole Foods type dev. as illustrated by the Ellington.

    I was walking down 14th St. at night in 2006 after a meeting at DDOT, from the Reeves Center to McPherson Square and I was floored at the level of positive activity. (When I first came to DC in 1987 I worked at 16th and P Streets NW and I remember 14th Street from that point forward...)

    However, the Whole Foods was just an element of a post-Barry resurgence in investor interest in DC sparked by the election of Anthony Williams as mayor. As I mentioned in the previous comment about looking at this as a process, the same goes for Whole Foods which was in turn part of a broader process as well.

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    @ Hillman and Laughing --

    1. You can't expect Gray to already have an executable strategy for Reeves. It takes years and he has been in office for less than one year.

    2. Gray is smart, smart, but I think he is too much a product of his time, and it's not enough to be smart if the approach/mental outlook is shaped by the old way.

    3. Similarly, I was in a relatively private meeting with Delegate Norton once, and I was surprised at her frankness in describing the environment in the House of Reps. and what she has to deal with. SHe's smart too--damn smart. It may be that isn't enough, but after that meeting I left with a much different perspective and evaluation of her efforts heretofore. She doesn't have a lot of wiggle room in the best of times, and virtually none when the House is controlled by Republicans.

  • LaughingII

    Dick Layman (I hope you don't me calling you Dick for short)-- I mean with you providing your name, as most don't on these blogs, and then putting forth glowing remarks, undeserved remarks about Gray and Norton, says heaps. That aside, I have been in the city much longer than you, have witnessed the DC govt just hand over land to Donatelli in which the first piece is where the Ellington resides. And they did this with no return! It was not even an investment for them!

    First of all, the Reeves Bldg was constructed to be a waste. I was there, lived a block a way and still do, saw the green line installed, saw the Reeves go up, saw it all basically and still seeing it. I say the Reeves Bldg was doomed from the start given that the architecture is one big hollow square of unused space from floor to ceiling. Revamp the Reeves is no no; tearing it down is the solution.

    Second, Gray is smart yet just signed a bill that would prohibit our law enforcement from investigating potential illegals. I guess we'll see all the Alabama rejects now, and a substantial uptick in crimes committed by them too. Yeah, Dick, that was surely a smart move.

    Third, forget about the current climate of Congress. Norton has been there for decades and not have been able to effect a damn thing, okay. Hell, she's been there so long she was there from the 1st president to our 44th one. Norton is comfortable, too comfortable, and I hope DC's new tax base kicks her azz right into the retirement that she is long overdue.

    Nice try Dick.

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    yep, "only" been here 24 years but that doesn't give you the privilege of fuc*ing with my name. WRT development, some is bull, sure, other is just the way the process works, whether you like it or not (cf. ch. 4 OF _Dream City_) At the time Donatelli got free land, few people wanted to build anywhere else in the city other than downtown. That's the price you pay to prime the pump.


    Obviously, we can disagree about Norton. When you're not a full member of congress, your ability to do stuff is extremely constrained.

    We probably have the same opinion about the others.

  • http://www.thedccenter.org David Mariner

    I work for the DC Center for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community. (www.thedccenter.org)

    We can't afford full-market rent and will need to move to a new location in about the year.

    We've inquired about the Reeves Center multiple times both during the Fenty Administration and during the Gray Administration.

    We would LOVE to have space in the Reeves Center.

    As recently as this past week we were told that there is no space available for non-profits in the Reeves Center.


    David Mariner

  • SEis4ME

    @laughing, maybe you should consolidate your criticisms of Gray because they seem to be all over the place.

    One minute he's blamed for not doing anything w/the Reeves center, and the next you tag him for being an uncle tom and doing nothing for UDC. The latter irrational criticism is interesting though, especially after the university has taken steps to open up a sister community school.

    I'm not sure what to make of your "carribean takeover" comments. Maybe you simply have a problem with non-Us born blacks.

  • http://twitter.com/joellawsondc Joel

    The point of this article is that the Reeves is a monument to the city's disgraceful management, not whether Whole Foods or Reeves anchored redevelopment. Excellent exposé, CP. DC: sell it already.

    As to Reeves-or-Whole Foods, I would argue neither, incidentally. As is often forgotten in the histories of development, it was individual homeowners who pioneered the restoration of this neighborhood. I didn't locate here in the very early 90s because the Reeves Center was nearby, and the hundreds of fellow pioneer rehabbers didn't either (nor much for the U St Metro; many fellow pioneers were here prior to that station's opening, and even afterwards, crime was so bad, we walked to the Dupont station). We located here because this turf adjoined a developed neighborhood--Dupont--the housing stock was beautiful and affordable in our young underpaid years, and friends were settled in and encouraging us to join them. We all provided the market for Whole Foods and others to later join what we helped to create. They wouldn't be here if it weren't for our investments in the neighborhood, obviously, and up to this day we have little use for Reeves except on Election Day (and ANCs and individual activists have begged for voting to be moved, due to horrible management of entrance/security for voters).

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    joel, you're talking about a different stage of the revitalization. Stabilization vs. growth. See e.g., the arguments by GWU Prof. Osman in the book _Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn_. FWIW, I know all about what you are saying. There are few people in the city as respectful of the contribution of historic preservation to stabilizing and maintaining neighborhoods during the multidecade period when housing trends did not favor urban living.

  • really?

    I'll say that moving DDOT out of the building was a lousy deal not only for the employees but for the taxpayers. DC government pays a developer 7 million a year in rent for 55 M Street!!!! how is that right? DC owns buildings so why should they move?? for that money they could have remodeled all of DDOT and more and save the taxpayers some serious money. Shame, shame, shame - this was a deal made by Fenty and Gabe Klein who is no longer here and now is in Chicago. Stupid decisions.

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman
  • http://westnorth.com Payton

    A sale/leaseback transaction could net the District some nice cash, rid them of excess space, put the building back on the tax rolls, raise funds for rehab, and provide cover for voiding all those ground-floor leases. The new owner could then turn around and rent the retail for $45 per square foot, which is the going rate in that area -- perhaps more given that 14&U is the primary corner. Or, if the District doesn't want to give up ownership or the name, a management/leasing contract for the building (with primary leasing responsibility for, say, floors 1 & 2) could return a nice annual income stream, plus maybe a PILOT payment for the retail space -- while also getting stores onto 14th that will build on the area's great foot traffic and retail momentum.

    Just a thought. There are many things that government does well, but being a retail landlord is not one of them.

  • Terry Miller

    More agencies are on the way here. I think Fire/EMS and Corrections. In addition to rates and roaches, the place is a fire trap. Once, I was sitting at my desk and I heard this pop pop sounds under my feet. Then I saw smoke. Then I jumped up because the floor was on fire because of an electical wire that was run under the carpet. In addition to floors, walls have caught fire and ceiling tiles have falled down on people's desks, etc.

  • LaughingII

    R. Layman - Okay, didn't mean to eff with your name.

    SEis4ME - I notice that you are long time jester on WCP blogs and your longetivity means nothing to me because you have surely came across the right one, okay. Your continual defense of Gray, not just here, but everywhere I read is pathetic. Do you just say things for the hell of it because your level of understanding is fragmented, speaking of consolidation of sorts? If you read rightly, I suggest to demolish the Reeves Bldg; that would be the fix. If you read rightly, I suggest that Gray should focus part of his attention on the displacement of black Americans at UDC whose jobs are then being "given" to Carribeans. And trust me, I know more about that university than you ever would with your surface knowledge of a "sister" school...ha ha ha.

    Are you upset with the fact that I called Gray out to be the Uncle Tom he is? But Whether you are or not is meaningless to me. And frankly, speaking negativey on Gray doesn't call for a fully constructed, cohesive essay, something I know a great deal about. He is not that important to do all that.

  • ohmygoodness

    Sekou Biddle mentioned selling the Reeves Center during his failed reelection.

  • SEis4ME


    If you have seen me around then you should already know that I care about your opinion of me as much as I care about eating pork - I don't.

    Now speaking of level of understanding (or my lack thereof) you obviously understood enough of the english language to respond. Yes, I read your suggestion that Gray should investigate how one group of blacks have "displaced" another @UDC. As ridiculous a suggestion it is, surely you don't expect anyone to take what you have said here seriously since you seem to have a problem with nonamerican blacks AND illegals.

    I don't know Vincent Gray - never met the man. Therefore, it would be tomfoolish for me to personally attach myself to him to the point where I am "upset" over what some random online idiot called him. Who cares. I refute untruths and half-assed analysis.

    Here's a little helpful information. Come armed with a substantive argument and then we can at least be somewhere near the same level of understanding. As it stands, your logic needs a triple dose of viagra.

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    I didn't respond to your statements about UDC. WRT Reeves I believe in the same course of action that you do.

    WRT Gray, I don't think that it's a fair assessment of my writings to say that I favor his course of action or that I am an apologist for him.

    And in my own blog I was pretty clear about while I didn't want to vote for Fenty, the people/milieu supporting Gray didn't make me inclined to want to vote for him. I think it's pretty clear from my writings that I am "extremely disappointed" with Gray, Brown (the only time I have ever voted for him was the primary vs. V. Orange), and just about everyone (with maybe two to 2.5 exceptions) on Council, etc.

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    Payton -- the building can't get $45/s.f. without complete overhaul or reconstruction.

  • LaughingII


    Yeah, I've seen you around in straight buffoonery, coonery in a steppin Fletcher sort of way...nothing ever memorable in a way legitimate argument, but all fluff and huff and blow your house down sort of "hood" way, Mr. SE.

    You don't know Vincent Gray, what a laugh, as your pinhead, I am sure, is always stuck up Gray's yellow azz. Eating pork is not the issue here (but that is surprising Mr. SE), it is your unceasing eating the azz of an ineffective governor with with your baseless comebacks or not even comebacks, just uselss chatter. Speaking of useless chatter, I do believe you are he with every use of Fenty's or Graham's name, you precede both with either "faggy" or "queen."

    You poor uninformed soul! A suggestion that West Indians are being deposited where black Americans used to be at UDC. No, Hoodis4Me, this is not at all a suggestion, assumption or like...IT IS. Do you comprehend the meaning of "is"? I would hope so. You must be an immigrant and have suddenly gained a gush of confidence with that protection bill...LOL.

    Ha ha ha...Speaking in terms of properly using logic, for what reason do you believe I am male and need to use viagra...ha ha ha.

  • LaughingII

    @TheHoodisME -- your myopy is so distinctly clear that I know you don't know a thing about racial free-riding...you poor soul.

  • Scott

    This is all a very interesting discussion with many tangents, however the real question is what to do with the Reeves Building now

    Richard, I have to disagree with you re:Reeves and its contribution. The 100's of employees fed and continue to feed the daytime presence in the area, as did Whitman Walkers large presence. It also served as a haven for several prominent business institutions, such as Bens, Industrial Bank, and even Duke's that were negatively impacted by the decades delay's of the metro construction.

    The non-profit office space in the area has greatly declined, WW has downsized greatly, and now Reeves is underutilzed. Selling this property isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as it remains primarily office. To go for residential would be a very bad choice, as it would tip the neighborhood entirely into a night time economy as a destination, the Reeves presence helps maintain a balance. DDOT brought a whole lot of people to the Reeves for meetings that spilled into the adjacent businesses, their presence is missed.

    Joel hits the head on some reasons homeowners came to the area, but is too absolute in his statements. I moved here in 88 because of the metro and the development plans underway, as an investment, and then never left and fell in love with the community.
    The area developed slowly over the early 90's, but pioneer businesses like Polly's, Utopia, Mango's (Jin), and then Andulusian Dog, State of the Union and Republic came in at the same the new residents moved in that Joel was mentioning. Followed shortly by new retail on 14th that lived off the Whitman Walker employee and visitor base.

    The area was poised for continued growth, but the city went into receivership and new development completely stalled and pressures began to build. The nightlife transformed from its early 90's Joe Englert influence, to the mid 90's Marc Barnes influence with his ownership of Republic Gardens. Coming out of receivership the area was poised for explosive development, and that attracted Whole Foods to look at the area.

    Real physical re-development did not happen until we came out of receivership, with the disposition of all the city owned land, particularly Thomson's Dairy (Lincoln Condo's) and old Children's Hospital (Harrison Square) that had been tied to Jeffrey Cohen's failed development plans.

    Donatelli's first and most significant entry into the area was Harrison Square on the old Children's Hospital site, not the Ellington. The old Childrens site is what attracted Whole Foods to look at the area, before being drawn to P Street, which is a much better site logistically. I credit Harrison Square for creating the neighborhood north of U Street that couldn't exist with the vacant hospital in place.

    The Ellington came later once WMATA put all their U Street lots out for development. Those WMATA lots ultimately resulted in the ugly Jawer building on top of the metro, the Ellington, Langston Lofts and Union Row. At the same time that Public Welfare Foundation came from the Watergate to the True Reformers Building also solidifying the value of the area for the investment that followed and is occurring now.

    Let's also not forget that Mayor Williams implemented the 16th street investment line for DC government employees. I don't remember the particulars, but the area was overloaded with agency heads and senior DC gov staff that purchased utilizing the discounts provided.

    My main point being there have been many factors that have influenced the development of this area and it has been a constant evolution. The Reeves Building in its current form is not contributing 1/10th of what it did or could be and a large portion of the issues have to do with design. It was created to provide a safe haven with large central atrium to an area that was a center of the DC drug trade and prostitution. It's orientation is monumental not interactive with the street. The retail is day oriented and the public space is basically dead. These are the issues we need to deal with on both short and long term.

    One interesting idea that came up I came up with recently when I was asked about what to do with the Reeves, was to tear of the glass atrium on the corner of 14th & U and rework the entrance and 1st and 2nd floor usage as a short term investment. The current inside entry is a horrible design that could easily be relocated, the escalators are not in use and that atrium cannot be a good energy solution. Tearing it off would create a significant plaza area that is lacking in the community, and could be used to link to to create public bathrooms (existing by elevators), maybe attached to a visitor center.

    The first two floors are prime retail locations in an area that is commanding high rates for undeveloped spaces. This space should be stocked with destination anchor businesses, such as an Apple Store, that will feed the rest of the area and daytime shopping, as well as providing a few temporary incubation spaces.

    Now imagine the new plaza and what could be done with such a large usable space, as well as having businesses that activate all sides of the ground levels. The interaction of the property on both the north and south sides with the community is horrible and even cosmetic changes could be significant. Let's be creative in thinking about the value of this building and the site to U Street and not just sell it. There are nearly 2500 units of new housing planned or in development in a 8 block radius, those are great retail demographics.

    Scott Pomeroy

  • SEis4ME


    Off the top let's clear up two things. Until today, I have never heard anyone (especially black) the character "steppin fetchit" referred to as fletcher. But ok. I can't know everything. 2)DC does not elect a "governor." Never has. Never will. It's interesting that you've been in DC as long as you claim and not know that.

    Contrary to your claim, you clearly don't know much about my WCP online persona. It explains why you were 100% wrong in assuming that I would ever refer to a man using female designations. So today, you got the wrong one.

    The only thing you've demonstrated is that you can string together a sentence. The additional inferences regarding what someone who lives in SE DC would eat is duly noted. But I think most people reading would see the sheer and radical lunacy of that sort of implied bias (along with your anti-illegal/carribean-born blacks position) and determine that you lack the substance to fill even an empty head.

    So please continue with your uninformative comments on Gray and those who support him. At a minimum, it might allow you to learn the difference between a substantive critique and your penchant for fecal regurgitation.

  • SEis4ME

    @Lstock, Ha ha ha...Speaking in terms of properly using logic, for what reason do you believe I am male and need to use viagra...ha ha ha.

    And I forgot to address that lil' suga plum. I suggest that the thrust of your logic is impotent; in need of some serious stimulation AND you respond with the ^ statement?

    You could be a domesticated marsupial (wombat) for all I care. The point is still valid.

  • LaughingII

    @Hoodis4Me -- You are an early stalker I see. Apparently, you never heard of the GAY Steppin "Fletcher," dude...read about him. But hey, you know it all, don't you. LOL!

    You talk about logic this logic that, but all can read that you have none. What you sound like is a wanna-be lawyer, or one who has miserably failed at what you thought would be prosperous career for you. You try to use legalese, but it's coming across as trying too hard. And if you are a lawyer, you're nothing but a mere clerk. Are your nails chipped from all that filing of cases you lost that keeps you right there in the hood - Mr. wanna-be bully? LMAO!

    And there you go, with your weak assumptions that I am anti non-US black because I speak on improprieties regarding non-US blacks vs. US born blacks. Let me continue to make you look like the idiot you are. I am nigerian-born, but been here all my life. So you mean to tell me that people of the same culture cannot speak on how their own mistreatmeant of others. You are a real idiot, dude. I bet you feel like a real azz now. Don't you?

    You try too hard and you'r coming across quite weak! And most importantly you are narrow-minded and have proven to not know much at all though you try really really hard. The example of this is your association of only one meaning to "governor," Ha...ha...ha. Outside the context of state governor, IDIOT, governor is simply a leader. But did I need to tell you that, you wanna-be intellect. Laughing my azz off!

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    Scott, as you know, we talked about these issues about 10 years ago. Interesting points as always.

    The only thing I will say about daytime worker population and restaurants-eateries is what I always say, that office workers support 2 s.f. of retail and 5 s.f. of food/quick service mostly. Add it up, the number of workers there, and you quickly see why the most successful "restaurants" were McDonald's and some carryouts. But yes, it's one thread of a broader set of customer segments that contribute to commercial district success.

    WRT your points, sell vs. hold, etc., personally I agree that it's better to hold and keep city/civic assets rather than sell them. Unfortunately, the city isn't good at managing and harvesting these assets.

    The kinds of ideas you have, while interesting, seem extremely unlikely to occur with the building under city ownership--I just can't see such verve coming out of a DC agency. It's a conundrum with no easy solution.

    What I'd probably recommend is a "public/private partnership" to rebuild/reposition and manage the building so that its potential can be fully harvested. The private sector would manage the building, the city would still own it and reap profits. Not unlike how Union Station Redev. Corp. owns Union Station but leases the retail section to Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., which in turns has a leasing management company manage the operations of the building, focused on maximizing usability, success and income.

    OTOH, Union Station shows that there can be problems with these deals, as Ashkenazy-LaSalle focus on maximizing rental income, which has been in part a function of displacing locally owned independent businesses in favor of chains.

    - http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/union-stations-mom-and-pop-stores-deal-with-retirement/2011/08/15/gIQAjVO5BK_story.html

    - http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/2170/fryer-in-the-hole

    And they don't focus very much on interpreting and presenting the cultural heritage of the building, nor on the provision of high quality visitor services. These functions, with limited economic return, aren't of much interest to private operators.

  • Denise Wiktor

    All Faith Consortium has been in the Reeves Center since about 2000, I made the arrangements for them to use the space on a temporary limited basis as at the time they had a grant to help ward one residents get jobs that was to last 6 months. They got an extension... We were also in a dispute with OLA about the space. Although I had made arrangements for furniture and office hours at the Reeves center, none were ever kept. When OPM, now OFRM starting charging "rent" to different agencies I can remember the secretary for the Council going ballistic at the amount--10K a year. It was never the intention to stretch this out 11 years.

  • drez

    One interesting take away from this is that DC politicians use public DC Gov space at the Reeves as their own personal slush fund to give or offer at discount rate to favored constituencies.
    Big surprise, I know.

  • mk

    it just sounds like a bunch of minority type folks collecting money for nothing. it used to be called fraud, now it is just called collateral economic damage. i have seen first hand how to government spends without any idea of what they are spending. their budget is simply a bunch of digits on cellulose or on a screen. they have no idea, nor give a shit on how the money actually translates into something viable. much less on how the money was originally intended. washington d.c. is the most expensive place to live. it has no oil, no gold, ltd beauty, but what it does have are a bunch of self centered cock-suckers who will do whatever it takes to keep feeding off the government tit.

  • mk

    the lesbian gay alliance can't afford the rent? not much of an alliance. most the gay people I know have a lot of dough. don't have to usually pay for kids etc. if you cannot afford the rent....out the door you went. fuck, if your so meaningful nonprofit bullshit is so important, find some person to sponsor you. you should not rely on the govt to fund your opinion. i see 80 year-olds working at mcd's to get a few extra bucks and have some benies. this money transference is so that you can "create" an office and not really pay rent.....that's fucking bullshit. take care of your own and quit making excuses as to why your shit doesn't float.

  • Pingback: Gentrification In Our Nation’s Cities | Gentrification