- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2000

The Freedom Forum's offer to buy the Pennsylvania Avenue site occupied by the D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) has officials wondering: If the deal is approved, where does that leave DOES?

The Freedom Forum has offered to give the city $75 million to move its headquarters and Newseum from Arlington to the DOES site by 2003. The D.C. City Council is expected to approve the deal this year.

In a meeting with editors and reporters of The Washington Times last week, Mayor Anthony A. Williams said he is considering several sites for the department, but added that he won't name them publicly because he doesn't want to drive up the cost of the land.

Butch Hopkins, president of the Anacostia Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit group that works to attract new businesses to the Southeast neighborhood, said city leaders have discussed moving DOES east of the Anacostia River.

Mr. Hopkins said that may not mean the city is necessarily considering sites in Anacostia, but he said residents in the poor neighborhood would welcome the move.

"Any agency that comes to an underserved neighborhood would increase the daytime employment, and eventually you'd have a spinoff effect," Mr. Hopkins said.

Arrington Dixon, chairman of the Anacostia Coordinating Council, a group that promotes urban renewal in Southeast, said he will encourage the city to consider sites on the east side of the Anacostia River for the new DOES home.

"We need things like that here," Mr. Dixon said.

DOES administers job training and job placement programs for D.C. residents. It employs about 700 people at offices throughout the city, although most staff members work in the Pennsylvania Avenue building.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Williams said the city may try to consolidate those offices into the new location, once it is chosen.

If DOES does move to Anacostia, Mr. Hopkins said shops and restaurants to serve its workers would probably follow. He also predicted some of the department's employees would move to the neighborhood to be closer to work.

This isn't the first time Anacostia has been mentioned as the new home of DOES.

Last year, the D.C.-based Oliver Carr Co. offered to buy the Pennsylvania Avenue DOES building and transform the prime downtown real estate into a hotel and condominiums.

As part of the deal, Carr offered to build a new headquarters for DOES on Howard Road SE, one block from the Anacostia Metro station.

The company also offered to develop a grocery store and other retail space on the four-acre site.

Mr. Williams said last week he is "committed" to fulfilling a campaign promise to move government agencies east of the Anacostia River, saying he wants to get public services "out to the people."

The mayor tried to do that after taking office in 1999, when he proposed selling the University of the District of Columbia's Van Ness campus and moving the school to Anacostia.

Outcry by UDC students forced him to abandon the plan.

Mr. Williams fared better this summer when he said he would move the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles from C Street NW to Georgia Avenue NW, part of a $111 million plan to improve that corridor. Most residents have embraced that plan.

Other sources suggested the city may move DOES to One Judiciary Square NW. That building is being used as a temporary city hall until renovation of the official hall, the John A. Wilson Building, ends this year.

City officials have said they haven't decided how the Judiciary Square building will be used.

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