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D.C. police, agencies to share huge Penn-Branch service center

(Published April 5, 1999)

The headquarters of the D.C. police departmentís eastern region will anchor a "mini city hall" planned for the Penn Branch Shopping Center at Pennsylvania Avenue and Branch Avenue SE. City officials unveiled plans March 23 to fill about 35,000 square feet of previously leased space in the aging shopping center with a variety of city services.

At a meeting with neighborhood residents and civic associations, city officials said plans for building improvements are underway and they hope to have the offices up and running by the fall.

The center, expected to employ about 150 workers, will include the Regional Operations Command offices of the Metropolitan Police Department, which covers all neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River. The eastern region command center is currently located near the Police Academy and D.C. Village at the southern tip of Ward 8.

The Penn Branch center also will include the police departmentís Environmental Task Force, as well as offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles, Tax and Revenue, and Housing and Community Development. Inter-agency initiatives aimed at reducing neighborhood blight and supporting small and disadvantaged businesses will also have offices at Penn Branch.

City officials signed a 10-year, $7.8 million lease last August, planning to consolidate three Department of Human Services "income maintenance," or welfare, offices there. But when neighbors got wind of the plan, they objected, saying the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and civic associations had not been notified. Then-chief management officer Camille Barnett stepped in and plans for the DHS offices were dropped. While neighborhood residents and city leaders tried to come up with a plan for the space, rent charges of $56,000 per month have been accruing since December.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator