GSA Celebrates 'Good Neighbor Month' and its Partnership with America's Cities
September 10, 1997
Contact: Hap Connors
WASHINGTON, DC - In the past year under its "Good Neighbor" initiative, the U.S. General Services Administration has signed service agreements and over 100 leases for office space in downtown areas, transferred millions of dollars worth of surplus federal property to local communities and opened federal facilities for over 5,000 special events in communities across the country.
To celebrate the anniversary of its "Good Neighbor" program and its successful partnership with America's cities, GSA has slated this month as "Good Neighbor Month" and will host building dedications, events and activities in cities across the country.
GSA's "Good Neighbor" program is a public-private partnership with national and local urban downtown groups that enhances the business community's efforts to maintain the vitality of American cities. The program allows GSA, which manages real estate and procurements for civilian federal agencies, to establish a new approach for the agency to participate in community planning efforts and contract for local services when possible.
In a letter to GSA Administrator David J. Barram, Vice President Al Gore, who chairs the Clinton Administration's Community Empowerment Board, commended GSA's efforts over the last year: "Good Neighbor program activities in over 50 cities in 35 states have established strong new partnerships, which allow the Federal government to leverage our nation's public heritage and resources. Being 'Good Neighbors' is more than good business for our nation's cities."
Barram unveiled the "Good Neighbor" program last year at national conferences hosted by the International Downtown Association (IDA) and the Council for Urban Economic Development (CUED), describing it as a "new and constructive partnership to leverage federal resources with local resources and become really 'good neighbors.'"
Since then, GSA has been working with additional local organizations, having signed contracts for services with nine cities and working toward agreements to purchase services in 20 additional cities. In all, the agency is working with more than 50 downtown organizations and cities, including Atlanta, Tampa, Tallahassee, Baltimore, Dover, DE, New York, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Birmingham, Fort Worth, Memphis, St. Louis, Kansas City, MO, Omaha, Tulsa, Mesa, AZ, Phoenix, Portland, OR, and Washington, DC.
Barram will cap off "Good Neighbor Month" with return engagements to IDA and CUED conventions to update members on GSA's activity. He will also unveil details of GSA plans to build on the "Good Neighbor" program.
The "Good Neighbor" program enhances existing Clinton Administration urban policies involving GSA and federal real estate activity. Two Executive Orders - E.O. 12072 and 13006 - require federal agencies to first consider locating in Central Business Areas (CBAs) and in historic buildings and districts that best serve communities. This year, GSA signed 44 new leases for office space, bringing federal agencies from the suburbs to CBAs. In addition, several hundred leases for office space in downtown areas were renewed. The first order was issued in 1978 under the Carter Administration and was reaffirmed when President Clinton issued E.O. 13006.
GSA is also part of Vice President Gore's Community Empowerment Board that oversees the Clinton Administration's Empowerment Zone initiative. Under the initiative, GSA has transferred excessed federal properties and supplies and provided technical support to local communities.
Recently, GSA helped the City of Buffalo keep the Food and Drug Administration office in the CBA by meeting its unique need for laboratory space. GSA also constructed a 500,000 square-foot IRS data center in downtown Detroit that employs several thousand people, and in Albany, a new lease for the FBI is expected to spur development of its south end and generate $1.5 million in revenue for the local tax rolls. From Mobile, AL, and Kansas City, MO, to Tacoma, WA, GSA leasing activity in downtown areas is helping cities achieve their revitalization goals.
In the last year under "Good Neighbor", GSA has contracted directly with Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and other downtown organizations to pay for services such as street lighting, maintenance, and security. It is currently working toward service agreements with more than 25 communities, including Washington, DC, and has begun to purchase services from several BIDs, including Phoenix, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Memphis, Fort Worth, New Orleans, Portland, OR, and Tacoma, WA. GSA expects to sign agreements within the next several weeks in Birmingham and Baltimore.
Under the Public Buildings Cooperative Use Act of 1976, GSA can provide free or at-cost space for cultural, recreational or educational use. It houses day care centers in some facilities, provides space to colleges, works with the Small Business Administration to bring in services like dry cleaning, and provides space for art exhibits.
As part of its overall mission to support other federal agencies, GSA controls more than 1 million square feet of office space in each of 40 U. S. cities. Nationwide, it controls almost 300 million square feet of space in more than 8,000 facilities, providing work environments for more than 1 million federal employees.
Robert A. Peck, Commissioner of GSA's Public Buildings Service, said, "Good Neighbor relates to everything we do, every day. Through our downtown location and alternative use policies, our participation in special districts and other revitalization initiatives, as well as our Living Buildings and Public Buildings Heritage programs, we can create meaningful places in and around our buildings. This benefits not just federal workers, but all of us."
Peck said that under the "Good Neighbor" program, GSA is contributing to community planning activity in a common effort to improve neighborhoods and make downtown locations more attractive. "We are part of these communities," he said. "By being involved as partners in these decisions, we are helping our cities to bring back the nation's downtowns, block by block, by attracting people, jobs, and dollars."
Attached is a list of highlighted activities and events for "Good Neighbor Month" in cities across the country. For more information on GSA's "Good Neighbor" program, visit the homepage later this month at http://goodneighbor.gsa.gov.
Highlights for Good Neighbor Month Activity
� September (all month), Milwaukee, WI: "Celebrate Living Landmarks in Government" exhibit in atrium of federal building.
� September 9, Washington, DC: Public workshop at the National Building Museum to develop alternative design and use proposals for the restoration and private development of the landmark General Post Office that GSA will be partnering with the private sector to redevelop.
� September 9, Birmingham AL: Signing ceremony with City Center District Management Corporation to promote GSA's Good Neighbor partnership and announce the renaming of the City Center Safety Guides to City Action Patrol. GSA and CAP safety guides will be downtown passing out information on their services and the Good Neighbor program.
� September 11, New York, NY: Opening of new offices for U.S. Passport Agency. This new spacious facility signals more convenient and efficient services for the public and will allow the agency to process over 250,000 passports annually.
� September 20-23, New York, NY: GSA officials will give remarks and participate in the International Downtown Association national conference. Among activities region is offering will be a tour of the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, located in lower Manhattan and property within the GSA's first established Business Improvement District agreement with the City of New York.
� September 21-24, Miami, FL: GSA officials will give remarks and participate in the National Council for Urban Economic Development national conference.
� September 24, Kansas City, MO: Good Neighbor Community Clean Up. GSA and federal tenants will pick-up garbage within a four block radius of the Richard Bolling federal building. Community clean-up will take place at noon. Music and refreshments will be provided.
� September 24, Washington, DC: GSA will sponsor a Ridesharing Fair, where Federal and private sector employees can sign up to join the computer ride-match program of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
� September 25, Memphis, TN: Celebration of the partnership between GSA and the Center City Commission Memphis. A business luncheon where the CCC President will speak about GSA Good Neighbor partnering will be followed by a tour of the Main Street Square. The CCC President will describe what the city has done to revitalize the area.
� September 26, Washington, DC: Federal and local officials will dedicate the new FBI field office in downtown Washington.
� September 29, Phoenix, AZ: In conjunction with the Downtown Phoenix Partnership and the City of Phoenix, GSA is inviting federal agencies not currently located in the Central Business Area to "experience" the downtown for a few hours with tours of the newly renovated federal building, the new baseball stadium and the central business area.