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PBS Commissioner Winstead Speaks on Federal Buildings at Federal Forum

As prepared for delivery

Remarks by
David Winstead
Commissioner
Public Buildings Service
The Role of Federal Buildings in the Local Community
Federal Forum
Lakewood, CO
May 12, 2006


Thank you for the introduction Sam.   I’m pleased to be with you today.  I am also excited to be speaking about something that I have a passion for and that has been very successful throughout Colorado — the federal presence and its role in local communities.

GSA’s Public Buildings Service has a broad responsibility to manage the government's real estate for other federal agencies.  That includes the purchase, lease, design, construction, and management of office buildings, laboratories, courthouses, and border stations for civilian federal agencies — including several customers who are with us today.

Of our over 8,900 assets — we have about 1,600 in the government-owned inventory and 7,300 in leased facilities.  That’s about 342 million square feet of space in about 2,100 communities. 

Here in the State of Colorado we have 78 owned buildings and 170 leases comprising about 10.2 million square feet.  In a year we spend approximately $36 million in operating costs, $90 million for rental of space and another $12 million for repairs and maintenance.  That doesn't include the capital projects such as the recently completed Arraj Courthouse in downtown Denver and the upcoming infrastructure modernization of the Denver Federal Center.

Our core mission is to provide superior workplaces for federal workers, and we recognize that quality workplaces don’t happen by accident.  They are the result of close collaboration with customers, stakeholders, local community officials and citizens.   

PBS is unique in one respect:  we build, lease, and renovate properties where there is a federal need to do so, in many cases where the market would not otherwise drive new development.  This means that our facilities often present an important opportunity to help support, or ‘jump start,” the tone for future development in many communities.    This is why it is vitally important that we work together. 

As a federal agency, we have the opportunity to complete our projects in ways that support local development goals. Our public investment in federal buildings can encourage the development and health of a transportation and related infrastructure that will benefit the larger community.

How we locate and design new buildings; how we manage and invest in our existing buildings – these are the big decisions.  And when we make these decisions in collaboration with our clients and our communities, we can get multiple returns for both.  There is clearly a symbiotic relationship between what we do with facilities and space and the infrastructure that serves them.  We are exploring this relationship and how our current policies impact the areas of mobility and congestion.

GSA’s Rocky Mountain Region, based here in Lakewood, has provided some of the best examples of the possibilities:

  • In Alamosa we worked to keep the Social Security Administration office in the downtown area.
  • In Glenwood Springs we worked with community to keep locations for Social Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service within the city limits.
  • In Fort Collins, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of the Interior have grown dramatically over the past several years. These Departments formed a relationship with Colorado State University to create a concentration of cooperative research, involving a wide range of agricultural and environmental issues. To accomplish this vision, PBS developed an outstanding public/private partnership involving Colorado State University, the City of Fort Collins, US Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, GSA and several private sector developers. The result is two separate multi-building research campuses involving ten buildings and twenty outdoor animal research structures. Eight of the ten buildings are complete, as well as all twenty-six of the outdoor research structures. The ninth building is currently under construction and the entire complex is anticipated to be completed in 2009. Currently, approximately 1,400 federal employees and contractors are housed in over 700,000 square feet of new space.
  • In Boulder, the David Skaggs Research Center houses 1200 scientists who conduct some of the most important weather related research in the world.
  • In downtown Denver, our Lessor, OPUS West, is completing construction of a new regional office for EPA on the site of a vacant postal distribution center, along the 16th Street transit mall in an area well served by Denver’s light-rail system.  Giving their employees robust public transit options was important to EPA – and as the former Secretary of Transportation for the State of Maryland, I know the value that transit brings to employers, the community, and the environment. 
  • Right here in Lakewood, in fact just behind us here at the Denver Federal Center, we see a truly unique opportunity to fashion a collective vision, and to rethink and reposition our federal properties in keeping with larger community goals.  This one-square mile facility was built as a Remington Arms Plant during World War II.  Over the last 60 some years, the site has evolved into one of the largest concentrations of federal agencies outside of Washington, with more than 10,000 employees and visitors arriving at the Center each day. 

Yet the needs of our clients have changed over time, much of the site remains unused, and the Lakewood area has grown around it. 
Now it presents a unique opportunity to redefine the site – in a sensitive way that strikes a balance between government, public, and private sector use.  Along with city officials, we are considering many options during the master plan process, including components that include mixed use, residential, and park development.

Plans are already in place to bring a new hospital onto one portion of the site and light rail park and ride service to a spot just outside this building. The line will provide employees, visitors, and our neighbors in Lakewood with quick service west to Golden and east to downtown. 

The final master plan won’t be complete until late this year.  But the lesson to draw from this now is the importance of collaborating to build a common vision, around this type of very unique opportunity.

There are many other opportunities out there – both large and small.   These are just a few of the examples of the type of work that GSA is doing on behalf of our clients and in partnership with local communities – in Colorado and around the country.

We take our role in communities to meet federal needs in ways that support local goals very seriously. We see these examples as setting the standard for all of us.  Thank you again for allowing me to speak to you today.  If you find yourself in Washington, please give me a call or stop by my office.