Alexandria City Council member David G. Speck recently touted the relocation of the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to the Carlyle site in Alexandria [Close to Home, Aug. 8].
But how can the contractor for the PTO at Carlyle be given a lease award by the General Services Administration (GSA) when the fundamental requirement for 2 million square feet of office space has not received final approval from the Alexandria City Council? Nor has the council voted on several major changes to the master plan for Carlyle. The behavior of the PTO contractor and the council make it difficult not to speculate on whether approval and changes have been promised in advance.
Accompanying Speck's Close to Home article was a piece from Anthony E. Costa of GSA saying that the Carlyle site offered the government the lowest price. But it is easy to offer the lowest price when not meeting the requirements of a given site. For example, three blocks of open, above-ground garages are much cheaper to build than the concealed or underground garages called for in the original plan.
Costa also implied that final decisions regarding the Carlyle site have been made, but that is false, both at the national level and at the local one.
And what of the economic benefit to Alexandria? Would the tax revenue from a government lease be secure for the long term, especially given that the PTO lease will include an option for the GSA to purchase the site?
The residents of Carlyle anticipated living in a "New Old Town" with office buildings, pleasant streetscapes, restaurants, shops, open spaces, entertainment establishments and other residential buildings with a free flow of pedestrians and traffic. They did not expect to be isolated in an office park. With a PTO "campus" located at Carlyle, the heart of the community will be consumed by 7,000 workers, nearly 4,000 cars and more than 1,000 visitors a day.
Carlyle residents can understand why the PTO would like to be at Carlyle, but ironically, if built, its very presence will negate many of the amenities it seeks.
-- Jane Starkey
lives at the Carlyle site.