Saturday, February 09, 2008

Bids Close Today on DC Food Bank Warehouse



Today was the end of the bidding phase for a project that will provide a new distribution center and much-needed office space for Capital Area Food Bank at 4900 Sixth Street, NE, just three blocks from Providence Hospital, adjacent to the Fort Totten Metro tracks. Jair Lynch, the owner's agent for CAFB, attracted five bidders to the development: Turner Construction, Smoot Construction, Forrester Construction, Epstein Construction, Gilford Construction and E.E. Reed Construction - a winner should be announced in a few weeks. McDonald Williams Banks Architects designed the new distribution facility.

CAFB purchased the site in December of 2005 for $10.35 million with a little help from Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in the form of a $1.5 million loan, and had help from the Department of Housing and Community Development. According to LISC: "The new facility will not only allow CAFB to expand programs now stalled due to space constraints, but will increase efficiencies of product movement, provide additional storage space for both dry and refrigerated food donations, increase truck access through a greater number of varied dock spaces, and install a re-packaging room that will allow them to accept bulk donations. It will also provide much needed administrative space that will allow for improved management of programs and general administration."

MWB has designed a 40-foot tall, 110,000-s.f. distribution center and found a way to use an existing 2-story, 25,000 s.f. office space for CAFB's staff by gutting and renovating its interior. "We will keep the existing masonry on the exterior of the current office and the interior will be maintained and restored, keeping a majority of the existing terrazo floor intact. In the warehouse, the exterior will be clad with metal panels and of course the interior will be concrete slab equipped with a racking system to store the foodstuffs," said Andre Banks, principal at McDonald Williams Banks.

The total project will entail 145,000 s.f. of renovation and new construction; an estimate puts a price tag at around $25 million.

CAFB claims they need the new site because they are outgrowing their old digs at 645 Taylor Street, NE. According to the US Census Bureau, more than 600,000 DC metro-residents are "at risk of, or experiencing hunger." CAFB's old site allowed them to serve about 275,000 local residents, but they're hoping with the larger spaces they can have a more efficient and widespread effect.

"The gist of why we're doing this is that the need is growing. A new facility will enable us to get access to more food, in and out to our member agencies. In addition, we will be able to significantly enhance and increase our outreach programs such as nutrition education, life-skills and empowerment," said Brian Smith, Chief Operating Officer at CAFB. The do-gooders hope to move in to their new facility within the next year.

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