The online presence of the Frank D. Reeves Center is a single page on the site of Washington DC’s city government. Listed under the Department of General Services, the property’s listing showed the information for the DGS Office on the 8th floor and documentation regarding the city’s proposal to sell the property to a developer along in exchange for 38 million dollars and a stretch of land at Buzzard point. The purpose of this will be to construct a stadium in Buzzard Point and allow the Reeves Center to be demolished and the property redeveloped. The limited information on the ongoing operations of the Center may be an indicator of it being phased-out as a service provider.
The website as a whole is very clean and accessible, with a lot of features that allow users to easily find information and interact with the site’s architecture. The drop-down menus have a wealth of information on a variety of topics such as services, contracting, construction, sustainability, properties, and jobs. It even has a blog, where the last post is dated to the previous April, but is nonetheless an interesting feature. Another intriguing device is a built-in voice readout that allows users to listen to the text on each page. Their feedback tab has a lot of points that presumably allow citizens’ concerns to be voiced.
Another interesting aspect is the amount of connections that the DGS makes to outside media. The left column of the page has links to many social media providers including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Youtube. Many of these accounts especially Twitter, are very active and allow citizens to connect with the organization. A link below the accounts is “Ask the Director,” where visitors can fill out a form for sending to the organization. All of these features show the department’s commitment to active engagement with the DC community.
The information for the proposal is included in two documents on the page, both from December of 2013 and in reference to a community meeting. One is the presentation given at the community meeting and another is a page aggregating comments and questions from those who attended. The presentation explains how the “New Reeves,” whatever might replace the building, should contribute to the U Street community in the same way that its predecessor did. The planners envision a mixed-use building that is composed of retail space and multi-family dwellings. It also explains the rationale for the demolition of the previous building. They recognize its years of service to the community, but also cite the grievances of its inefficiency of space, aging structure, and deferred maintenance.
The record of the meeting shows the concerns of the community members through a 51 point list. Recurring points include expressions that the farmer’s market, daycare, Department of Real Estate Services, and other programs should remain on the site. Others call for the new site to foster greater business participation in the neighborhood.
Within this information is the timeline for the future of the Reeves Center. It states that it was supposed to be transferred to a developer in late 2014. It then says that the new center would be completed by late 2016. It is clear that this is quite behind schedule as the current building still stands and is offering services. The DC United Stadium that was meant to coincide with the deal was also slated for opening in 2016 but a Washington Post article shows that disagreement over its design has pushed the opening until 2018. Perhaps the redevelopment of the Reeves Center has been delayed in the same manner. However interactive and functional the website of the DGS, it is for naught if the department does not maintain an active dialogue with the community. This is especially true when the fate of a beloved neighborhood landmark is in question.