Nothing moves forward in Washington without two things - official approval and monetary support. Urban development is no exception to the rule, which is why each year the National Capitol Planning Commission (NCPC) puts together a strategic development plan for the coming six years that looks at the federal building pipeline and indicates which projects have the most potential, are consistent with NCPC policy, and warrant further consideration. This year's report for FYs 2009-2014 is now available for public review and feedback.
While the recommendations made are not necessarily an indication of how the NCPC will vote on a given project, the yearly evaluation helps guide the planning process for the Capital region and examines both the positive and negative effects of future federal developments. The recommendations made during this process are then forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget for consideration in the President's annual budget.
This year's Federal Capital Improvements Program includes 195 proposed projects, the estimated cost for which is over $8.5 billion. While submissions are subject to change, NCPC ranked the current projects in four categories based on their conformity with "established planning policies"; the categories are "Recommended and Strongly Endorsed", "Recommended", "Projects Requiring Additional Planning Coordination", and "Recommended for Future Programming." Here is how some of the big-name projects ranked:
The Armed Forces Retirement Home Master Plan was ranked as a "Project Requiring Additional Planning Coordination" because of "outstanding development issues and pending completion of a master plan." Unlike most projects that go before the NCPC, funding for this project is provided by a trust fund supported by the residents living at the home, military fines levied against troops, and active-duty soldiers. The DC Master Plan, which has a proposed budget of $200,000 for FYs 2009-2014, involves the development of 107 acres and 6.14 million s.f. of residential, hotel, retail, and Assisted Living space. It is intended to generate revenue to help with the annual operating deficit at the AFRH. The AFRH is working with the NCPC to address issues with traffic, historic preservation, and open space.
The 1.3 million s.f. Department of the Interior Building at 19th and C Streets, NW, will require $85,000,000 in FYs 2009-2014 for major building system updates including fire safety, HVAC, interior architectural features, and relocations of walls. The project, which was "Recommended and Strongly Endorsed", will also include the restoration of historically significant spaces. The project has been in the FYIP since the 1992-1996 program.
The E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse at 333 Constitution Avenue, NW, will undergo renovations similar to the DOI building, but will require $176,000,000. The renovations for the 634,297 s.f. building were also ranked as "Recommended and Strongly Endorsed."
The National Museum of African American History and Culture was established within the Smithsonian Institution in December of 2003 by President Bush to provide a new collection and study of African American historical and cultural material. The Smithsonian Institution is requesting $250,000,000 for the programming, design, and construction of the new museum that will break ground in 2012. This funding is just half of the $500,000,000 necessary; the remaining half will be privately funded. The project, located on the corner of 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, first appeared in the NCPC plan for FYs 2006-2011. According to the NCPC FCIP, "Coordination will continue to be needed to address the many complex issues at this site," thus, it was ranked as a "Project Requiring Additional Planning Coordination." According to the Smithsonian Institute, an architect will not be selected until 2009 and drawings will not be available until 2011. Under the current timeline, the museum will deliver in December 2015.
The proposed National Museum of Natural History Revitalization will cost $151,500,000 during FYs 2009-2014, and will continue the ongoing Major Capital Revitalization of the building. Renovations at the 10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, site were ranked as "Recommended" and will include the restoration of antiquated plumbing, temperature control, and electric systems, the creation of a handicapped-accessible entrance from the National Mall, and the abatement and encapsulation of asbestos and lead. The project first appeared in the 2003-2008 report and has received $177,070,000 in prior funding.
Renovations on the Smithsonian Castle were "Recommended" and will cost $170,000,000 from 2009-2014. The project will include the restoration of interior spaces, replacement of mechanical and electrical systems, and the creation of handicapped accessible features. Work will be done to the facade of the 149,000 s.f. Romanesque Castle and on the overall building to bring it up to current building and fire codes. The building, which is also a National Historic Landmark, currently hosts 200 members of the Smithsonian staff and 1.6 million visitors per year.