- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 29, 2006

Real estate development contributes to the well-being of a community, according to Charles Barber, new president of the District of Columbia Building Industry Association (DCBIA).

As a potential real estate bubble looms and the debate surrounding a D.C. baseball stadium escalates, Mr. Barber said he is taking the helm of the advocacy group at a special moment in the city’s history.

“It’s an exciting time to be taking this role because of the development boom in the District of Columbia and prosperity unevenly distributed,” said Mr. Barber, 51, who lives in Silver Spring with his wife and three children.

Mr. Barber, who serves as a senior counsel to George Washington University, was previously vice president of the DCBIA, a group of more than 400 businesses whose members include architects, lawyers, brokers and builders.

Now, as leader of the association, Mr. Barber said he plans to focus on working with government to address unemployment, affordable housing and school modernization.

“Everyone’s agreed that the schools sorely need to be renovated,” Mr. Barber said. DCBIA members meet informally with D.C. public school officials and advise them how to administer large renovation projects and put private industry to the best use.

“We know something about managing real estate projects,” he noted.

Outgoing DCBIA President Jamie Williams said Mr. Barber’s links to the community provide valuable insight.

“As a native-born D.C. resident, he is acutely aware of the development issues facing our city and will address them responsibly, constructively and passionately,” Mr. Williams said.

Among those issues is the much-discussed baseball stadium, which Mayor Anthony A. Williams wants to build in Southeast beside the Anacostia River. The DCBIA supports increasing taxes on business to build the stadium in the District, Mr. Barber said.

“We think it’s good for the District. It’s a catalyst for development in that area,” he said. “Development would come to that area anyway, over time. This stadium will jump-start development much more to the benefit of the entire city in terms of taxes and community developing funds.”

The DCBIA is concerned about the cost of the stadium, however.

“We are supportive of the general effort but we’re also very interested in the City Council’s efforts to make sure that what we agreed to is actually what’s being built and at a reasonable cost,” Mr. Barber said.

Heading an advocacy organization such as the DCBIA requires a variety of skills, he said.

“I enjoy this area because it’s an interesting merger between real estate development, public policy and the law,” he explained. “It’s something that I’ve been doing in a micro way at George Washington and now I’m doing it more in a macro way. I enjoy pulling people together.”

Kara Rowland

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