Williams Plans to Shift Labor Division

Article excerpt

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said yesterday he wants to move the city's labor department next to the Metrorail station on Minnesota Avenue NE, one of the poorest areas east of the Anacostia River.

Mr. Williams has proposed building a $50 million, 200,000-square-foot complex to house the D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES), the city agency that helps D.C. residents find jobs and job training.

The mayor's plan calls for the new building to include 12,000 square feet of retail space that will bring more shopping opportunities to the neighborhood, now dotted with liquor stores and hair salons.

The department is now located on C Street NW downtown. The Freedom Forum, an Arlington-based journalism advocacy group, has offered the District $75 million to buy the site to relocate its headquarters and the Newseum journalism history museum.

The D.C. Council is expected to approve the Freedom Forum deal before the end of the year. It is slated to begin considering the Freedom Forum offer and the DOES relocation proposal Monday.

"We're thrilled by this announcement," said Lucy B. Murray, a Northeast activist. The relocation of DOES likely would spark further development in the neighborhood, Ms. Murray said.

Other neighborhood activists protested the mayor's announcement, saying Mr. Williams did not consult them before deciding to move the agency to Northeast.

The mayor has said he wants to move city agencies to distressed neighborhoods to spark economic development and bring public services closer to needy residents.

This past summer, Mr. …