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Government Serving the Homeless

The Arlington County Manager announced today she will recommend the County Board acquire 2020 14th Street North, a seven-story, approximately 70,000 square foot “office building and property on the east side of Courthouse Plaza. Acquisition “(w)ill enable creation of (a) comprehensive year-round homeless services center.” According to the press release:

“The County intends to finance the acquisition with previously approved PAYGO (Pay As You Go) funding and through the sale of bonds. The County received a recent appraisal valuing the property at $25.5 million.”

The property currently goes by the trade name of Thomas Building, and is zoned C-3, and consists of two parcels: RPC 17-016-012 and RPC 17-016-013. It was acquired by Branscan Real Estate Opportunity Fund, Toronto, Canada on June 23, 2006. The County Assessor valued the property for $15.5 million as of January 1, 2011 with the improvements valued at $11.2 million. The Manager reported the county would consider using eminent domain to acquire the property, saying:

“The County’s next step will be for the County Board to consider, after a public hearing, a resolution authorizing an offer to purchase the property. If a voluntary purchase is not successful, then the County may acquire the property by eminent domain. The County Board will consider the resolution at its Dec. 13, 2011 recessed meeting.”

The press release explained the county's interest in the property this way:

“Donnellan noted that the County has compelling reasons to acquire the property. The new space will help the County meet immediate and evolving space needs, and allow the County to move toward completing the vibrant, mixed-use complex at Courthouse Plaza that has been envisioned since the 1980s.

“Those plans, created with broad community involvement, envisioned the surface parking lot at Courthouse Plaza replaced with underground parking and including a public plaza, creation of more ground-floor retail businesses, and a combination of public and private offices and homes – all within walking distance of Courthouse Metro Station on the Orange Line.

“The purchase will enable the County to consolidate the majority of operations from two buildings into one.”

And these are the same eminences who talk of vision. Some of the possibilities never entered their vision, however. For example, it seems an ideal location for panhandlers, who could “set the stage for creating a more vibrant mix of public, private and government development that will transform the Courthouse area.”

HT Frank Emerson for the post from the Mises Economics Blog about Portland Oregon’s $50 million Homeless Hilton. Its concluding paragraph pretty much says it all:

“As usual, theft and waste on such a grand scale is referred to as “a noble mission” (the usual “good intentions” argument). Nonsense – it is a purposeful redistribution from the productive class to the government class to fund their pet social missions.”

It would be hard to put it any better.

The press release was newsblogged by ARLnow.

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