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Mayor’s Official Residence Commission
Draft Report
April 17, 2001




Dorothy Brizill
Bonnie Cain
Jim Dougherty
Gary Imhoff
Phil Mendelson
Mark David Richards
Sandra Seegars


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1. Report
2. Appendices

a. Maps and aerial photographs [not available on-line]
b. Legislation
c. Members of the Commission
d. Witness list
e. Letter from Casey Foundation


The District of Columbia is experiencing a cultural, economic and political renaissance. The population of Washington, D.C. is becoming more diverse. Private sector investment is growing in District neighborhoods, and public confidence in local government is increasing. This renaissance is occurring while District residents and stakeholders are coming together, working together, and succeeding together to obtain the promises of the new millennium. This renaissance period offers a golden opportunity to establish a permanent mayoral residency in the District of Columbia, "America's Crown Jewel."

The act establishing the Mayor's Official Residence Commission states:

  1. The District of Columbia is the nation's capital and international showcase;
  2. The Mayor of the District of Columbia serves as the highest elected official at both the state and local levels;
  3. Each of the 50 states in the United States provides an official residence for its top executive government official, the governor, for the purpose of serving as an official state residence; a suitable official location for entertaining and honoring state, national, and international guests, as well as its own distinguished citizens; and an official location that houses and displays cherished memorabilia of the state's cultural and social history;
  4. An official residence is also provided for the Mayors of major cities in the United States, including Detroit, New York and Los Angeles;
  5. The mayors of cities that serve as the capitals of other nations are also provided with an official residence, including London, England and Paris, France;
  6. The Mayor of the District of Columbia should have a residence suitable to entertain and honor citizens, businesses, local and federal officials, and the many official guests and distinguished persons who visit the District each year from other cities, states and nations;
  7. After 25 years of limited home rule, it is time to establish an official residence of the Mayor of the District of Columbia.


Many different suggestions have been made regarding the location of the Mayor's Official Residence. It is the belief of the Commission that the best way to evaluate the various ideas is to establish a framework that objectively articulates options in terms of . size, cost and programmatic considerations. Having done so, each specific idea and proposal can be evaluated on the basis of the established framework and criteria.

The Mayor's Official residence could reasonably range in size from 2,500 square feet to over 16,000 square feet depending on resources and programmatic preferences and choices. For purposes of framing a discussion, the establishment of a mayoral residence within the District of Columbia would be based on the following site selection options.

  • The first option is a standard or basic economy mayoral residency that accommodates only the housing needs of the Mayor and his or her family. 
  • The second option is a larger version of the first option that provides high quality housing, additional living areas and bedrooms, limited guest space but no space for any public activity.
  • The third option is the largest version in which there would be high quality housing that accommodates the needs of a contemporary Mayor and his or her family, contains separate guest quarters, a public entertaining and reception area, as well as a exhibition space that can accommodate school age tours. There would be ample space for the Mayor and the District of Columbia to receive leaders from cities and nations from around the world.
The establishment of the Mayor's residence would greatly enhance the reputation of Washington, D.C. and support our citizens' vision of the District of Columbia as "The World's Capital City". The District of Columbia and its official residence seeks to be America's crown jewel, and in doing so fulfills the highest aspirations, values, and ideals of American society for democracy, diversity, education, culture, neighborhoods, economic opportunity, and governance. The Mayoral residence is not to be the home of any one Mayor, but the home of all future Mayors.



The benefits of establishing the mayoral residency in the District of Columbia are many and could take one of several different forms.

  • The residence could be owned and operated by the District of Columbia government. All costs of acquisition and renovation as well as ongoing maintenance would be the responsibility of the District government. The District of Columbia government contains an Office of Property Management that is responsible the ownership and maintenance of several thousand pieces of property. There is no current funding for this purpose nor is there adequate-staff in the Office of Property Management to undertake a significant additional task. All operations including procurement and personnel activities would be governed by those that currently govern the District government.
  • The residence could be owned and operated by a separate not for profit foundation. This foundation would be dedicated to the sole purpose of owning and operating a residence for the mayor of the District of Columbia. It would be able to raise funds necessary to accomplish the task with the amount of capital and operating funds to be determined by the choices regarding size, scale and role of the residence. Gracie Mansion, the residence of the Mayor of New York is owned and operated by this type of foundation (The Conservancy). The significant advantage of this approach is the enhanced ability to raise funds and resources from outside the government.


Regardless of the vehicle chosen to implement the establishment of a Mayor's residence one or more of the following activities, at a minimum, will need to be undertaken. These activities will have varying costs.

  • Acquisition of an existing private property
  • Acquisition and renovation of an existing private property
  • Identification and renovation of an existing District owned property.
  • Receipt of a gift or services.

The costs for the proposed initiative to establish a mayoral residence will vary significantly depending on the specific site as well as the scale and quality of the accommodations. Prior to selecting a specific site and for purposes of this proposal, the options can be characterized in three alternatives. The actual site and project, when undertaken, will likely incorporate some combination of the variables outlined below.

Option A

This option includes the acquisition of a modest residence that would be approximately 2,500 - 3,500 sq. ft. and would include an adequate number of bedrooms and living area to accommodate an average family. There would be no provision for public space or entertaining other than the normal living and dining areas customary with this type of property. The Mayor and his/her family would live in this house much like any private citizen. The capital and operating costs necessary to create this residence would be the least of the alternatives.

Option B

This option includes the acquisition and renovation, if necessary, of a significant single family structure that would be large enough to accommodate private entertaining and meeting area, but would not include any public space.

The residence would be 8,000 - 10,000 sq. ft. and would include six to eight bedrooms and be adequate to comfortably accommodate the Mayor and family as well as room for guests. Though there would be no public space, the home would be elegant and of sufficient size to entertain formally and to officially represent the government of the District of Columbia.

Option C

This option includes the acquisition and renovation, if necessary, of a significant structure that would be large enough to comfortably accommodate the Mayor and family, including room for private meetings and formal entertaining, as well as having separate space available for guest quarters. In addition this option would include the creation of significant public space that would accommodate areas of display that would be dedicated to the history of the District of Columbia and the display of fine art that is indigenous to our remarkable and distinct city.

It is envisioned in this option that the mayoral residence would become the center of social, political and artistic activity in the nation's capital and the foundation would be funded adequately to further this vision. The structure would be approximately 15,000 sq. ft. or larger, would include both private residence quarters for the Mayor and family as well as the public space necessary to meet the articulated vision.


All wards and neighborhoods in the District represent the District. The site of the Mayor's residence should be chosen with regard to the impact on the on the neighborhood and the level of accessibility. It is the unanimous feeling of the members of the Commission that the site chosen for the Mayor's residence be a site that has dignity and is befitting the Office of the Mayor of the District of Columbia.


Based on a preliminary analysis, the cost of undertaking the establishment of an official Mayor's Residence that is comparable to other official state residences is in the range of $40 million to $50 million. This is based on the capital costs of construction and rehabilitation and the capitalized costs of operating over a 50 year period. In brief, any of the three options described above will require a capital campaign or expenditure of District funds that would allow for an acquisition cost that would range from $150 - $250 per square foot and an annual operation cost of approximately of $35- $50 per sq. ft. A cost index increase projected at 4% per year for the foreseeable future is anticipated. The following is a breakdown of the projected costs of the three options outlined above.

BUILDING SIZE 2,500-3,500 Sq. Ft.  8,000-10,000 Sq. Ft.  14,000 - 16,000 Sq. Ft.
ACQUISITION  $0 - $500,000  $0 - $2,000,000  $0 - $15,000,000
RENOVATION INCLUDES SECURITY $375,000 - $875,000  $1,200,000 - $2,500,000  $ 2,100,000 - $ 4,000,000
PARKING  $5,000 - $10,000  $10,000 - $20,000  $50,000 - $75,000
OPERATING  $87,500 - $175,000 Includes: landscaping, maintenance, insurance.  $280,000 - $500,000 Includes: landscaping, housekeeping, maintenance, utilities, furnishings,  insurance. $490,000 - $800,000 Includes: landscaping, housekeeping, maintenance, utilities, furnishings, insurance, security, staffing, entertaining

Given the fiscal constraints, demands and pressures on the budget of the District government and the need to fund important programs such as affordable housing, workforce development, literacy, education, etc., funding for this initiative would best come from outside sources.


Based on the program for the house size and its intended function there would be some level of off street parking that would be warranted. The minimum amount of parking would be for five to ten cars, which would be adequate to accommodate the Executive Protection Unit and the personal vehicles of the Mayor's family. The cost for construction of surface level parking if required is projected at $1,000 per space and would be as follows:

  • 0-5 spaces, $5000
  • 5-10 spaces, $5,000 to $10,000
  • 10-20 spaces, $10,000 to $20,000
  • 50-75 spaces, $50,000 to $75,000

If it were ever a requirement to go up or down via a structured garage, the cost increase would be substantial. In the event of a gift in kind, there would be no cost to the district.


Any Mayoral residence should have certain security considerations at a level that is appropriate to the structure and site. The Mayor's security detail has been consulted and they have advised that the following issues be considered:

  1. Accessibility - The location should be chosen with consideration given to the accessibility issues regarding ingress, egress and traffic. Street width along with street parking issues should be of interest.
  2. Dual entrances - The optimal residence would allow for a driveway sufficiently long enough to accommodate a gatehouse located at the working entrance gate. The entry way should be of sufficient size to accommodate a space approximately 40 feet long from the inside of the gate to a second security barrier. A separate and ceremonial main gate should be automated from the "working gatehouse" and used for entrances of visiting dignitaries and guests
  3. Security room or building - The residence should provide room for the Executive Protection Unit (EPU) to remain on location when necessary without impeding the Mayor's personal privacy. This is best accomplished by a separate "out building" that can double as a base for security personnel assigned to the residence as required. A room within the home is minimally acceptable so long as it provides separate access from the outside of the home. 
  4. Perimeter fencing - The chosen location should include, or be capable of accommodating a seven foot decorative security fence. 
  5. Parking - Staff parking should consist of as many as five city owned security related vehicles and three personal vehicles belonging to those assigned to residence security. 
  6. Backup Independent Power Generator - The residence should be equipped with a generator capable of running critical security function as well as basic living requirements. 
  7. Security Landscaping - The residence should be specifically landscaped with security and privacy issues in mind.

In summary there are a number of considerations that have to be factored into a decision. Legal structure, program, scope, location, cost, parking and security are all issues that must be weighed when considering any alternative for the official Mayor's residence.


921 Pennsylvania Ave.

The District currently owns a building at the above location, which is also known as the Old Naval Hospital building. It is large, four story stately masonry building built in the middle of the 19'h century. 

  • The building is approximately 14,000 square feet and of a size sufficient to accommodate Option C above. It would be necessary to convert the floor plan for use as residential. 
  • Though there would be no acquisition cost, the costs of renovation would be between $2.1 million and $4 million. Due to the age and condition of the building it is reasonable to anticipate costs to be on the upper end of the aforementioned range; 
  • The operating costs would be between $490,000 and $800,000; 
  • Both the capital costs of repair as well as the ongoing operating costs would have to be raised or paid for by the District government; 
  • A minimum amount of parking is available on site, approximately 5-10 spaces; 
  • Security would be reasonably accommodated in terms of space within the building, a guard house, security fencing, etc. but the site is exposed and very close to Pennsylvania Ave. 
  • The use of this site as the Mayor's residence would have a positive impact in many respects on the adjacent neighborhood, but the ongoing use would have negative traffic impact on the area.

Casey Foundation Proposal

The Eugene B. Casey Foundation proposes to establish the Casey Mansion Foundation to acquire a seventeen acre site on Foxhall Rd., build a significant structure and endow the Foundation sufficient to pay all operating costs in perpetuity. 

  • The proposed building will be "a beautiful, large, well planned house with official entertainment areas, comfortable private family quarters, and guest rooms." The proposed site is seventeen acres. 
  • All costs of acquisition, construction and operating will be paid for through the Casey Mansion Foundation. 
  • Parking in excess of seventy-five cars will be available. 
  • The proposed site and building are large enough to accommodate all reasonable security concerns. 
  • The use of this site as a Mayor's residence would have very limited impact on the adjacent neighborhood.

Other Sites

A number of additional sites have been looked at by various members of the Commission. These sites include, but are not limited to:

  • 2801 16th St., Residence of the ambassador of Spain
  • 2700 16th St., Chancellery of Italy
  • 4845 Colorado Ave., Henry Wardman House
  • Several vacant sites on Massachusetts Ave. located at 4th, 5th, 6th, and 9th St.
  • The warden's house at St. Elizabeth's Hospital
  • Open land located on the east and west banks of the Anacostia River


Pursuant to the enabling legislation, the Mayor's Official Residence Commission held a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17. The public hearing was held in the Council chambers located at One Judiciary Square NW, Washington, DC. The hearing was an opportunity for the Commission to hear from the members of the public on the issue of an official residence for the Mayor of the District of Columbia. Copies of the preliminary report from the Commission, the enabling legislation and the letter proposal from the Casey Foundation were available at the hearing.

There were approximately 20 individuals who presented testimony. The majority of the individuals supported the proposal from the Casey Foundation. One individual believed that there should not be an official residence for the Mayor, one believed that it should be at 921 Pennsylvania Ave., and one suggested the Commission look at a different site on Pennsylvania Ave. that is currently being considered for development by a private developer. Additional comment has been received by the Commission through e-mail, as well as through phone calls.


It is the belief of the Commission that the Casey Foundation proposal offers the best opportunity to realize a residence that achieves the maximum programmatic goals at the least expense to the citizens of the District.

Based on the analysis presented above and the majority of the testimony received from the public, it is the recommendation of the Mayor's Official Residence Commission that the Mayor and the Council, on behalf of the citizens of the District of Columbia, accept the proposal from the Casey Foundation to designate the site located at 1801 Foxhall Rd. NW as the Official Residence of the Mayor of the District of Columbia.

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[Full list of members of the commission]


Mayor's Order 2001-129 
February 16, 2001

SUBJECT: Appointments - Mayor's Official Residence Commission

ORIGINATING AGENCY: Office of the Mayor

By virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the District of Columbia by section 422(2) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, as amended, 87 Stat. 790, Pub. L. No. 93-198, D.C. Code § 1242(2)(1999 Repl.), and in accordance with section 4 of the Mayor's Official Residence Commission Establishment Act of 2000, effective October 21, 2000 (D.C. Law 13179), it is hereby ORDERED that:

1. GWENDOLYN HEMPHILL, BRENDA RICHARDSON and FRANK WILDS are appointed as public citizen members of the Mayor's Official Resident Commission (hereinafter referred to as "Commission') for terms of 180 days from the date a majority of the first members are sworn-in.

2. The following persons are appointed as ex officio members of the Commission representing District agencies and shall serve at the pleasure of the Mayor: 

TIMOTHY F. DIMOND, Chief Property Management Officer or his designee; and

ANDREW ALTMAN, representing the Office of Planning or his designee.

3. EFFECTIVE DATE: This Order shall become effective immediately.



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Linda W. Cropp, Chairman

November 3, 2000

The Honorable Walter E. Washington
408-410 T Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001

Dear Mayor Washington:

I am very pleased to appoint you as chairperson of the Mayor's Official Residence Commission, pursuant to section 5(a) of D.C. Law 13-179, the "Mayor's Official Residence Commission Establishment Act of 2004:" Enclosed for your information is a copy of D.C. Law 13-179, which became law on October 21, 2000, upon the expiration of the Congressional review period.

The other appointees of the Council Chairman are:

The Honorable H.R. Crawford
3195 Westover Drive, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20020
202-583-7777 (h)
202-547-4300 (o)

Ms. Alice Norris
506 10th Street, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003
202-546-0107 (h)

Mr. Max Berry
2716 Chesapeake Street, N
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-362-9499 (h)
202-298-6134 (o)

Thank you for your leadership on this matter and your willingness to serve on the Mayor's Official Residence Commission. The Mayor's Office of Boards and Commissions will be contacting you in the near future to inform you of the Mayor's appointments and to help organize the first meeting of this important commission.

Linda W. Cropp


cc: Mayor Anthony A. Williams
Members of the Council

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D.C. LAW 13-179
Mayors' Official Residence Commission Establishment Act of 2000"

6:30 P.M.
One Judiciary Square
Council Chambers
441 4th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 2001


  1. Kathryn A. Pearson-West, DC Resident
  2. Penny Pagono - President of the Palisades Citizens Association
  3. Erman Clay - DC Resident
  4. Kenan Jarboe - DC Resident
  5. Kathy Henderson - At-Large DC State Democratic Committee Member
  6. Pete Ross and Bob Andrews - President and Vice President of the Foxhall Community Citizens Association.
  7. Len Levine - Commissioner Single Member District 2 of ANC 2E
  8. Gary Imhoff - DC Watch
  9. Rhoda Burwell- DC Resident
  10. Rodney Newman - ANC 7A07
  11. James D. Gaston III- DC Resident
  12. Carol Shapiro - DC Resident
  13. Dr. Idiong Calistuf - DC Resident
  14. Ms Rooney - DC Resident
  15. Ellie Becker - DC Resident
  16. Sam Bost - DC Resident
  17. Ernest Thomas - DC Resident
  18. Dr. Joel Ademisoye - DC Resident
  19. Mr. Poer - DC Resident

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