Urban Development eNews Archive FY2003

Enews ------ March 2003 ------ Issue 18

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

- Jane Jacobs

To GSA's Federal and Community Partners: This quarterly Enews highlights activities across the country that show how GSA projects and properties can bring multiple returns to communities and our federal agency clients - when we work together. We welcome your feedback and input. Your good ideas will help others.
Thanks for your support!


GSA Convenes Public Workshop for Salt Lake Courthouse On February 25th, GSA's Rocky Mountain Region hosted a public workshop to discuss the design of a planned federal courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City. With design work just getting started, the workshop served as a way for the project team to get direct input from local stakeholders about neighborhood goals and opportunities for the courthouse development to support them. More than 80 persons attended, representing the City, local business owners, community artists, preservationists, transit officials, and the Church of Latter Day Saints. Judge Tina Campbell, U.S. Marshall Jim Thompson, and lead designer Tom Phifer shared their vision for the courthouse. Project for Public Spaces lead participants through an observation and brainstorming process that is helping the design team form their initial concepts. GSA plans further collaboration as the design progresses. Contact: Kim Bailey, (303) 236-7070 x239.

Tacoma Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary of Union Station

On February 18, GSA's Northwest/Arctic Region and their local partners marked the 10-year anniversary of the renovation of Union Station. The project began when Rep. Norm Dicks read a “Letter to the Editor” in the local newspaper suggesting he save the historic Tacoma Union Station that had been slated for destruction. Dicks turned to GSA to make it happen. GSA formed a partnership with the City of Tacoma, the 9th District U.S. Court, and architect James Merritt. They pursued a total renovation of the building, incorporating space for the courts. Since then, the complex has gone on to catalyze revitalization of the Tacoma City Center and its 90-foot tall atrium has become a world famous home for Dale Chihuly's breathtaking glass installations. GSA's Regional Administrator, Jon Kvistad, served as the master of ceremonies for the event. Speakers included U.S. Representative Dicks, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan, Mayor Baarsma, and project architect James Merritt. Contact: Lauren Hader, (253) 931-7451.

GSA and Chattanooga Collaborate on Courthouse Site

On February 4th, representatives from GSA's Southeast Sunbelt region and the City of Chattanooga TN took a significant step towards selecting a mutually beneficial site for a new federal courthouse. Mayor Bob Corker and Thomas Walker, GSA's Assistant Regional Administrator, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that makes a site currently occupied by the Chamber of Commerce the preferred choice for the new courthouse. Under the terms of the agreement, the City would acquire the property for sale to GSA, pending approval of courthouse funding. It is hoped that site and design funding for the new courthouse will be approved in fiscal year 2005 with completion of the courthouse set as early as 2009. The collaboration shows how, as Mayor Corker noted, the City and GSA can work to make a new courthouse “an important catalyst” downtown. Contact: Gary Mote, (404) 331-2774.

Adaptive Reuse in Kansas City

On January 23, GSA's Heartland Region hosted a public meeting to present proposed adaptive-reuse concepts for the historic federal courthouse at 811 Grand, in downtown Kansas City MO. The building is no longer needed by the government. The meeting brought together civic leaders from local congressional offices, the mayor's office, and the real estate, construction, and architectural communities. Plans call for GSA to retain ownership of the building, making it available to private investors through a long-term lease. Under Section 111 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1976, proceeds from the lease would be available to support reinvestment in this and other GSA historic properties. The project would support city revitalization efforts and form a cornerstone in the continued improvement of downtown Kansas City. GSA plans to select the developer by mid-April. Contact: Don Carlos Morgan, (816) 823-2695.

Historic Governors Island Returns to New York

On January 31st, in a White House Ceremony, GSA Administrator Stephen A. Perry announced the return of Governors Island to the City and State of New York for educational use, ending 202-years of federal ownership. Administrator Perry noted that the transfer is a significant accomplishment for the agency, and required “strong working partnerships” between GSA, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Interior, and the State and City of New York. Half of the 172-acre island, a 7-minute ferry ride from Manhattan's southern tip, has been designated a historic district, with some of the island's 225 buildings dating to 1783, when British troops surrendered it to American forces. The island's National Monument, which consists of Castle Williams, Fort Jay, and 22 adjacent acres, was transferred to the Department of Interior's National Park Service. Contact: Viki Reath, (202) 501-1499.

GSA Presents New Federal Courthouse Design to Richmond

On November 15, GSA's Mid-Atlantic region and architect Robert A. M. Stern presented his firm's design for the new U. S. Courthouse in downtown Richmond VA. Over 100 people, including media representatives and city officials, attended the event. GSA Regional Administrator Barbara Shelton addressed the crowd and Mayor McCollum shared positive comments from the community. The new facility will be the largest courthouse project ever undertaken by the Mid-Atlantic Region. It will be seven stories tall, with 337,000 square feet to house the U.S. District Court, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and related agencies in a prominent downtown location. Pending construction authorization, occupancy is slated for the summer of 2007. Contact: Suzann Vitalis, (215) 656-6151.

IRS May Bring 5,000 Workers to Downtown Kansas City, MO

In a key milestone that could bring 5,000 federal workers into downtown Kansas City, GSA is supporting a $300 million plan that would construct a new IRS facility adjacent to the Main Post Office. Supported by GSA Administrator Stephen Perry, Sen. Kit Bond, and IRS officials, the move would consolidate IRS offices from several locations in the metro area. The Kansas City Star reports that, if successful, the project would play a key role in revitalizing downtown, with estimates of $3 million in additional revenue to the area. According to Administrator Perry, the project would represent a “multiple win situation benefiting the IRS mission, clients and employees, the people of Kansas City, and the American taxpayer.” The project is currently under consideration by the Office of Management and Budget. Contact: Jim Ogden, (816) 926-5211.

Youngstown Courthouse Takes the LEED

GSA's Great Lakes Region's recently completed federal courthouse in Youngstown OH has become the agency's first courthouse project to receive the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. As part of GSA's nationwide effort to promote sustainable design, GSA requires LEED certification for all new design starts. The Youngstown courthouse was the first completed under the new requirements. Many more are on the way. To earn certification, a project must meet LEED-defined sustainability goals, such as reusing resources, conserving energy, and creating a healthful work environment. The Youngstown project, which was built on a former downtown brownfield site, received high marks for site development and was cited for exemplary use of local materials, over 60 percent of which were manufactured locally. Contact Pam Wilczynski, (312) 353-2496.


GSA's Northeast and Caribbean Region Collaborates in Buffalo

On March 3rd & 4th, Regional Administrator Karl Reichelt met with City of Buffalo and Erie County Officials to discuss GSA's downtown plans. Mayor Masiello joined federal, city, and county officials to discuss how long-range local and GSA plans may support one another. Administrator Reichelt discussed GSA's commitment to relocate 30 agencies with 1,300 federal employees from the Dulski Federal Building into downtown leased locations. The group also discussed plans to collaborate on other GSA projects, including a proposed federal courthouse and additional downtown leasing requirements, that would affect up to 2,500 employees in Buffalo. Contact: Crofton Whitfield, (212) 264-3594.

Miami and GSA: Making a Great Impression

Eleven months ago, we reported on the collective efforts of GSA's Southeast Sunbelt Region and the City of Miami to improve the walking environment around the Claude Pepper Federal Building in downtown. Now we can report that the work is nearing completion. GSA is putting the finishing touches on its First Impressions project at the building, which coordinates new perimeter security features with elements of the City's streetscape plan for an adjacent retail district. Meanwhile, the City has completed installation of historic streetlight standards around the federal building to help the neighborhood tie-in with the retail area. Combined with a new federal courthouse that is being built nearby, the work will transform a key downtown neighborhood. Contact: Martha Pollock, (954) 356-7685.

First Impressions is the highly successful GSA initiative to improve the public presentation of its existing inventory nationwide. Work concentrates on facades, public spaces, and building entries - the elements that make a first impression on visitors.

Federal Building May Serve Mutual Interests in Dubuque IA

Representatives from GSA's Heartland Region recently met with Mayor Duggan and local economic development officials to discuss the future of the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse in Dubuque. Local officials are interested in acquiring the historic James Wetmore-designed building, which is no longer needed for full federal occupancy. In a creative strategy, the group would like to retain the building's retail post office, as a high traffic anchor, and allow use by the federal courts when needed. The rest of the building would be available for other uses. Discussions are continuing. Contact: Jim Ogden, (816) 926-5211.

More about this and other historic buildings in GSA's inventory can be found at the website of GSA's Center for Historic Buildings.

GSA Partners with Savannah College of Art and Design

GSA's Southeast and Sunbelt region is working with the Savannah College of Art and Design to support student development and bring specialized skills to bear on GSA projects. Under a recently developed memorandum of understanding (MOU), students will provide architectural, interior design, and historic preservation services to GSA's facility management team in downtown Savannah GA. GSA manages two significant historic buildings nearby, the U.S. Customhouse (1852) and the Federal Building and Courthouse (1899) (see link in previous story), and a modern three-building federal complex. By working in these buildings, students gain hands-on training, investigation and presentation experience, portfolio development, and, perhaps, employment opportunities. And GSA gains an outstanding resource to meet client needs and care for these valuable resources. Contact: Teressia Blair, (404) 331-7775.


Milwaukee Courthouse Hosts Thurgood Marshall Celebration

On February 3, GSA's Great Lakes Region celebrated the unveiling of the United States Postal Service's new stamp honoring Thurgood Marshall, one of the best-known lawyers in the history of American civil rights. Marshall began his career in private practice, later serving as chief counsel for the NAACP. In 1954 Marshall and his legal team prevailed in the landmark Supreme Court case, “Brown v. Board of Education” that struck down segregation in public schools. Marshall made history again in 1967, when he was sworn in as the first African- American justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. His 24-year tenure was marked by his commitment to defending constitutional rights and affirmative action. More than 150 people gathered in the historic atrium of the U.S. Courthouse, a popular venue for public activities. Mayor John Norquist joined Postmaster Lou Dunning, representatives from the U.S. Attorneys office and other federal agencies, as well as the county courts. Attendees enjoyed a singing performance by the Milwaukee School of the Arts and a staffer from Sen. Feingold's office who sang the national anthem. Refreshments were provided by Grebe's, a nearby bakery. The event was a festive and fitting kickoff for Black History Month and an excellent use of GSA's public space. Contact: Tony Lillibridge, (414) 297-1125.

GSA Celebrates Holidays with Denver Elementary School

On December 19th, GSA's Rocky Mountain Region welcomed more than 120 children to the Byron G. Rogers Federal Building, the Byron White U.S. Courthouse, and the U.S. Custom House. The children, ranging from first to sixth grade, are students at Ebert Elementary School in Denver. The events included caroling on the steps of the U.S. Custom House, snacks in the federal building, and a short skit presented by the law clerks of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. GSA will show off these buildings to the adults later this month, when they present their Denver Federal District project to the American Planning Association conference. See National News (below). Contact: Cara Hoevet, (303) 236-7153.

Delicious Tradition Continues in Wilmington, NC

The Alton Lennon Federal Building in Wilmington NC is well known in some circles because it won a 2002 The Office Building of the Year (or TOBY) Award for historic buildings in the region. In other circles, it is known and loved for an annual fish fry in December, held in conjunction with District Judge Fox's birthday. Sponsored by a U.S. Marshal and his father, the court security officers cook a variety of fish, including salmon, flounder, and spot. The rest of the building, including the USDA, ATF, and Department of Labor, stocks the ever-growing dessert table. The event is a great way to bring together the building's federal family. Contact: Randall Hartwell, (910) 815-4860.

NATIONAL NEWS American Planning Association Conference, March 26th - April 2nd

GSA will play a key role at this year's APA conference in Denver, CO. On Wednesday night, March 26th, GSA's Rocky Mountain Region will kick off the Federal Planning Division's APA workshop with a reception at the Byron White Circuit Courthouse. GSA representatives and city officials will lead tours of Denver's Federal District, a highly acclaimed partnering effort in the community. The following morning, GSA's Tim Horne and Janet Preisser will lead a panel discussion featuring the city officials and local designers who worked with GSA on the Federal District. On Friday, Assistant Regional Administrator Paul Prouty will deliver the keynote address at the Federal Planning Division's annual awards luncheon (http://www.fedplan.org). Later, during the APA general conference, Frank Giblin will present GSA's Good Neighbor program alongside Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC). Contact: Lisa Morpurgo, 303-236-7174.

American Institute of Architects Conference, May 7 - 11

AIA's annual conference will be in sunny San Diego this year and GSA will be very active in the program (http://www.aiaconvention.com). On May 9th, GSA will present 'How a Federal Project is Born: A Case Study'. The panel discussion will focus on community, preservation, design excellence, and court design issues related to the planned federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Charles Matta will moderate the GSA panel, featuring the project's historic preservation specialist Joan Brierton, program coordinator Gilbert Delgado, and project manager Mario Ramirez. Other GSA sessions will present the agency's latest thinking in its design awards, child care, design-build, and security efforts. Contact: Frank Giblin, (202) 501-1856.

PPS Launches Better Buildings Website

Project for Public Spaces (PPS), a long-time GSA partner organization, has just launched its newest web resource: Better Buildings: A New Approach to Placemaking (http://www.better-buildings.org/). The Better Buildings website is a multi-faceted tool to help shape the design, management, and partnerships needed to make great public spaces, and the buildings that support them. A significant amount of the content came from GSA's experience around the country.


“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”

- Ambrose Redmoon


Want to find out more? Have ideas to share?

We file each Enews on our website at While you're there, you can check out other publications and policies, find the partners that can help GSA to be a good neighbor in your community, and get contact information for your local GSA representatives.

Please email questions, comments, and contributions--as well as mailing list additions and deletions--to Frank Giblin.

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Last Reviewed 2017-03-17