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DC Chamber of Commerce to Open Visitor Information Center in Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade CenterNew Partnership Will Create One-Stop Information Center for 22 Million Visitors to DC

GSA # 9545

December 18, 1998
Contact: April Kaufman (202) 501-1231
Sue Porter (202) 638-7330
Linda Meyer (202) 312-1300

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and Trade Center Management Associates (TCMA) today announced that the DC Chamber of Commerce will open a new Visitor Information Center in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

The DC Chamber of Commerce, the premier advocate for businesses in the District of Columbia, has signed a ten-year lease for 3,200 square feet in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The Chamber expects to open the Federal Triangle-area Visitor Information Center in early 1999.

"The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center is expected to generate $45 million annually in business revenue and sales tax for the District of Columbia," said GSA Administrator David J. Barram. "Public-private partnerships, such as the one creating this Visitor Information Center, are playing an increasingly vital role in the rejuvenation of our nation's cities."

GSA, the DC Chamber of Commerce, TCMA, Bell Atlantic-Washington, Guest Services, Inc., and the National Endowment for the Humanities have partnered to create an inviting and engaging new center where visitors can get answers to all of their questions about public attractions and accommodations in the nation's capital. Tourism is Washington, DC's second largest industry after government, and currently there is no way for visitors to readily access this information.

"This is one of the most exciting projects undertaken by the Chamber in recent memory," commented Kwasi Holman, Executive Vice President of the DC Chamber of Commerce. "By engaging visitors to explore every corner of the city and helping them to create memorable experiences, the Chamber is confident that the Visitor Information Center will bring more visitors into the city who will stay longer and return more often. The economic benefit to the city will be significant."

With its extensive food court, restaurant, caf�, public telephones and rest rooms, and beautifully designed open spaces - including the glass-covered Atrium and Woodrow Wilson Memorial Plaza with sculptures commissioned for the building through GSA's Art-in-Architecture program - the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center provides the perfect facilities to house the DC Chamber of Commerce's Visitor Information Center. The building's central location between the National Mall and downtown area makes it a gateway to the rest of the city's unique neighborhoods.

Brian Dacey, Managing Director of TCMA, said that the partnership and the Center are important for the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center because it "is a showcase for the types of public-private partnerships that will really bring American and international visitors into this unique and beautiful public Federal building."

The Visitor Information Center will be readily accessible on the street level at the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Plaza entrance to the building, just across from the Federal Triangle Metro station. Visitors can also get there easily from the main entrance of the Reagan Building on 14th Street and the corner entrance at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The Center will be open 7 days a week; the hours of operation will be Monday - Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The center will be staffed with knowledgeable personnel, stocked with free brochures about attractions throughout the city, and provide interactive kiosks with information on sites, events, and services available to tourists. Visitors will be able to buy tickets for local tours, make hotel and restaurant reservations, and purchase unique souvenirs and memorabilia reflective of the city's colorful history. The Center is already accessible by telephone at (202) DCVISIT.

The Chamber spearheaded the Visitor Information Center project because its mission as it relates to tourism is to ensure that all of the city's neighborhoods are easily accessible to the 22 million tourists who visit the nation's capital every year. The Chamber will assume full responsibility for operating the center. Daily operations will be managed by Guest Services, Inc., a hospitality industry leader in the metropolitan region with extensive experience handling millions of visitors through its contracts with the National Park Service, the U.S. Congress, and other government agencies. Guest Services will hire and manage Center employees, including a staff of local volunteers, and will run the Center's retail shop.

Bell Atlantic-Washington will donate, design, and install the Center's information technology, which will provide visitors with an array of up-to-date information to enhance their experience of Washington, DC. Support from the National Endowment for the Humanities will make the Visitor Center an attraction in itself by showcasing changing exhibitions featuring captivating scenes of Washington in its d�cor.

Formally dedicated in May of this year, the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center is 90% occupied. It houses about 7,000 public and private sector employees in a unique partnership that actually creates two buildings under one roof. Not only does the building consolidate headquarters for federal agencies, it serves as a platform for international trade.

GSA oversees the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, which has more than three million square feet, and hired TCMA in 1995 to manage and market the trade center and the vast public spaces. According to GSA, over 75 percent of the building houses nearly 5,000 employees from three primary federal tenants: the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Customs Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is also housed in the building.

The remaining 500,000-square-foot International Trade Center features an international conference and event center, the U.S. Center for World Trade, private trade-related offices, and an exhibit area called the American Showcase on the Global Economy. A 950-seat food court, restaurant, caf�, and a parking garage with 2,000 spaces are also part of the center.

TCMA is a joint partnership of Urban Retail Properties Company of Chicago and The John Drew Company of Boston. Urban Retail Properties, a subsidiary of Urban Shopping Centers, is one of the nation's largest retail property managers and is recognized as an industry leader in all aspects of property management, leasing, development, and marketing. The John Drew Company is a full-service real estate development and management firm which has created and spearheaded the development of projects including the World Trade Center Boston and Bayside Exposition Center.