- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2001

The nations largest conservative think tank is doubling in size, thanks to two gifts worth more than $10 million.
The Heritage Foundation announced this month that by the fall of 2002, it will be expanding into an eight-story apartment building next door to its current location.
The $9 million expansion will include converting the top two floors of the new building into an auditorium with 200 seats, twice the number Heritage has in its current arena.
"This auditorium should be stupendous," said Jim Weidman, Heritages director of public relations. "It will go up two stories worth and we wont have the pillar problems we have now," he said, referring to the large, view-blocking pillars in the foundations current auditorium.
Heritage received the $8.5 million Capitol Towers Apartments building at 208 Massachusetts Ave. NE from the family of the late Thomas Johnson of Pittsburgh.
The 63,000-square-foot building, which once housed a liquor store and dry cleaning business, sits next to the Heritage headquarters at 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
The gift was in the works for many months but confirmed to the Heritage board of trustees in late March, said Mr. Weidman.
Mr. Johnson was a longtime contributor to Heritage and was perhaps best known as a part-owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team.
His nephew, William Johnson of Boca Raton, Fla., said Mr. Johnson "was a firm believer in the mission and vision of the Heritage Foundation" and "would be proud to know that this building will be used to help this vital American institution carry out its programs to build a safer, more prosperous, better America."
The new auditorium will be built with a $2 million gift from Heritage trustee Douglas F. Allison and his wife, Sarah.
Mr. Allison is chairman and chief executive officer of the automotive research and marketing firm Allison-Fisher International Inc. of Southfield, Mich.
In addition to the new auditorium, the top floors will hold a reception area and two conference rooms.
The other six floors will provide much-needed expansion room for Heritage staffers, who are well known for producing rapid-response policy papers, thick guidebooks on election issues and white papers on such areas as taxes, the economy, foreign relations, defense, crime, education, welfare and family policy.
Heritages last major expansion was in 1983, when it moved into its current eight-story location, just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol, said Heritage Foundation President Edwin Feulner.
There are now 185 full-time employees, and "were fairly full to bursting now, " said Mr. Weidman. "Obviously, this is very, very welcome space."
The first four floors will be used to solve a chronic problem the housing needs of some 75 interns who come to work at Heritage each year.
Housing "has always been the Achilles heel of intern programs. So many young people are anxious to come to Washington, but its tough to find a place to put them, " said Mr. Weidman.
The remaining two floors will be dedicated to office space. Jockeying for the new offices hasnt begun yet, said Mr. Weidman, but "as soon as they open up that space next fall, theres going to be 20 people housed in closets moving in there."
The Heritage Foundation, founded in 1973, is the nations largest conservative public policy research organization, with 200,000 corporate, foundation and individual supporters and $37 million in income last year.


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