In September 2009 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security broke ground on a $3.4 million renovation of a sprawling 176-acre complex built in 1855 as the Government Hospital for the Insane, later known as St. Elizabeth’s and today a national landmark site. There are 52 buildings on the grounds, built between the 1850’s and 1940. The compound is located about five miles from Capitol Hill. When your sugar daddy is the U.S. government, you can pay your bills with $650 million in DHS and General Services Administration (GSA) FEDERAL STIMULUS MONEY.
Fourteen thousand DHS employees will be brought together at the new DHS headquarters, leaving some 8,000 to be distributed over six to eight locations in the D.C. area, including the current headquarters. Included in the complex as the first-phase construction is the LEED-certified Coast Guard facility. It should be completed in 2013. “LEED” is the acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED-certifies that a third-party has verified the green attributes in a building project developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). So, our Coast Guard facility at DHS will be “all that.”
…the U.S. Secret Service, the biometric system for tracking foreign visitors called U.S.-VISIT, the new Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the DHS Science and Technology Directorate will probably remain in their current locations.
Doug Powers writing at Michelle Malkin in September 2009 figures the nice, big meeting place will cost about $1.3 million per meeting held there. Assuming they buy bagels, Powers says, we’ll round that up to $2 million. Then there’s the thought that “GoToMeeting.com would have been a cheaper option.”
The DHS complex is the largest federal project since the Pentagon. Located in the depressed (low income) Ward 8 area, across the Anacostia River.
Fifty-two “historic” buildings will be preserved. Ten will be destroyed, and another eight have significant damage. No details on why those eight will not be destroyed.
FEMA worked with DHS, and provided guidelines on the following:
- FEMA 426, Reference Manual to Mitigate Potential Terrorist Attacks Against Building
- FEMA 427, Primer for Design of Commercial Buildings to Mitigate Terrorist Attacks
- FEMA 428, Primer to Design Safe School Projects in Case of Terrorist Attacks
- FEMA 429, Insurance, Finance, and Regulation Primer for Risk Management in Buildings
Before receiving the go-ahead to begin building, a long battle with preservationists ensued. In the end, the only dissenting vote came from The National Park Service. The $650 million from Stimulus funds provided 26,000 jobs in the D.C. area where 38% of the working population works for Uncle Sam (that would be you and me). The estimate of $3.4 Billion was published in September 2009. Does anyone think the price tag will be less than $6 Billion on completion?
DHS at St. Elizabeth’s, Washington, D.C. (video