Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Hail to the Chief: Preparing Your Property for a Presidential Visit. (Feature)

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Hail to the Chief: Preparing Your Property for a Presidential Visit. (Feature)

Article excerpt

You are faced with an incredible challenge: The President of the United States has planned to visit your property. After you pinch yourself, many questions begin swirling around in your head: How do I prepare? What Secret Service arrangements are necessary? Will I get to meet the President?

David S. Miner, CPM[R], executive vice president of the Winston-Salem, NC-based Meridian Realty Services, found out firsthand what it takes to ready a property for its very own "hail to the chief" Miner's portfolio includes the Loewy Building, the site of a recent Presidential stopover.

The short visit culminated in five days of massive preparation, which began with the possibility the President would actually appear. (In the case of many Presidential visits, final confirmation may nor come until 24 to 48 hours before the scheduled arrival.) Clearly, preparation goes far beyond simply vacuuming the carpets and removing litter from the parking lot.

"I think [preparations] went better than imagined, given the short notice," Loewy Building property manager Faye Barnes said. "The response you get from contractors and vendors is amazing when you tell them you need help to prepare for the President's visit. Everyone was excited to be part of the action."

The visit was to rake place the day after President Bush delivered his State of the Union address.

The Countdown Begins...

Three Days to Go

Three days before the scheduled visit, the President's advance ream arrived at the Loewy Building, an 86,000-square-foot, four-story commercial property with a small penthouse. Erected in the 1920s, the building is a National Historic Property. Current tenants have spaces ranging from 2,000 to 10,000 square feet, and the per-square-foot rental rate is $12.75, full service.

The President planned to visit the offices of one of the building's tenants, Winston-Salem State University's Center for Community Safety, which is federally funded through the Department of Justice as part of a pilot program for crime prevention. The Center's conference room was selected for a roundtable discussion on community planning for disasters and threats.

"The President believes the project is a model for community preparedness because we have developed a comprehensive emergency response plan," Miner explained. "The President was set to discuss how this group developed its plan and offer his congratulations and his encouragement.

Miner, Barnes, and members of the University's staff met with the presidential advance team to discuss details. (For security reasons, the Secret Service will not divulge information related to how they conduct a pre-visit inspection to anyone apart from those persons directly involved with the visit.) The Secret Service instructed Miner and his staff to keep the planned visit a secret until two days prior.

Building maintenance engineers Dean Smith and Darrell Ellis walked the Secret Service through the building. Several safety issues needed to be addressed. First, windows in the conference room were covered with a protective shielding. Electrical circuits were added to accommodate lighting and other press equipment. Fire extinguishers were inspected, and all exit and general building lights were turned on. The generator, HVAC, fire pumps and any other heavy mechanical equipment were also checked and determined to be in good working order. Electrical circuits servicing the area where the President was to be were traced, converted to dedicated service and labeled. The Secret Service contacted the local fire marshal and requested a building fire inspection in order to correct any problems before the President arrived. …

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