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From the President
Why Is APA Moving?
Psychiatric News
Volume 37 Number 24 page 3-36
Anchor for JumpAnchor for JumpChoosing a home is probably one of the most important decisions a person can make. It is no different for a professional organization. Cost, location, layout, amenities—all must be factored into the decision. And since moving is costly in terms of staff effort, downtime, and actual expenses, choosing wisely is key. Every organization, like every family, wants a place that it can call home for a considerable period of time.

As you read this column, APA will be settling into its new home. Over the weekend of December 20, APA headquarters moved from the current, boxy building on K Street, N.W., in the District of Columbia to a sleek, silvery building, shaped like a pointed oval, just across the river in the Rosslyn section of Arlington, Va. Those of you who have visited Washington, D.C., may know the building, one of a pair, as the former headquarters of USA Today. Coming into Reagan National Airport from the west, you can easily see these buildings from the right side of the plane.

This is the third home for APA that many members will recall. From my earliest days of membership in the late 1970s, I remember the handsome, old building near Dupont Circle, full of charm but hopelessly crowded and poorly laid out for a modern membership organization. To augment its funds for a move to more adequate quarters, APA conducted a fund-raising campaign among the members. With the money raised from the members and the sale of the old building, we purchased a plot of land at 1400 K Street, N.W., then at the eastern-most edge of the business district.

Some people questioned the wisdom of choosing this location. Fourteenth Street, N.W., which bounded the site on the east, was home to a flourishing group of storefronts housing peep shows and other establishments purveying what we will delicately call "adult entertainment." Franklin Park, across the street, was a supermarket for street drugs, into which one ventured at one’s peril. Indeed, after dark most people chose not even to walk on that side of the street. But the choice was vindicated. Fourteenth and K streets now sits in the middle of a thriving business district, the porn shops replaced by upscale cafes, and the border of respectable territory pushed far to the east.

Some members with whom I have spoken about the current move were under the impression that the money that was raised for 1400 K Street was going to build the structure itself, which we would then own. But the money needed to buy the land and build a structure far exceeded APA’s resources. Instead, APA struck a deal with a real estate company to lease the land from us and develop an office building that would carry APA’s name and house our headquarters. We negotiated a long-term lease at a very favorable rate for three floors in the building, space that our leaders thought then was adequate for our needs. Moreover, after 47 years, in 2027, the building was to be transferred to APA’s ownership. It seemed like a good deal all around—and it probably was.

Why, then, are we moving to Arlington? The decision, as we say in our trade, was multidetermined. In 1998, as APA reviewed the management of its assets, our advisors informed us that we were being imprudent in keeping a significant amount of money tied up in the land under the building, an illiquid asset, the future appreciation of which was uncertain. Even our ultimate ownership of the building, in their view, was no warrant for holding onto the land, since a 40-year-old office building would require APA’s making a major investment in building renovations to attract tenants who would pay first-class rents. The advisors recommended that we would do better to sell the land and invest the proceeds, with the resulting income used to offset our rent payments. APA followed that advice and sold the land to TrizecHahn, by then the owner of the building.

By 2002, therefore, we had a long-term lease on three floors at 1400 K Street at very favorable rates and a fund that defrayed part of that cost each year. But we had grown considerably since moving into the building, and over the years had added space on other floors to the point where APA occupied about 100,000 square feet at 1400 K, of which half was leased under our original agreement and the rest under shorter-term leases that were due to expire in 2002 and 2003. To renew them, the landlord wanted us to pay current market rates, which would have increased our rental costs substantially. It was beginning to look as though this might be a good time to explore other options.

Yet another variable came into play. Much of the space at 1400 K Street was inefficiently laid out and in need of renovation. Upgrading the space and increasing its efficiency would have required a very substantial capital investment. Would that have been a good use of our members’ money? After a great deal of discussion and consideration of other options, the Board ultimately decided that it would not. Instead, the Board voted to move to new quarters at 1000 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, space that was completely reconfigured for us at the landlord’s expense and that because of its efficiency will allow us to occupy only about 55,000 square feet. The term of the lease is 15 years. The net savings on the Arlington space, compared with renegotiating our leases for the 100,000 square feet we now rent at the present building, is roughly $800,000 a year.

So we are on the move. The new headquarters is a short distance from Reagan National Airport and sits nearly astride the Blue Line Metro that runs to the airport in one direction and into the District in the other. For our staff who commute by Metro, it’s just three stops beyond our current location. In exchange for the inconvenience of the move, APA staff will get completely reconstructed space, designed to our specifications, on floors large enough to allow many APA offices that work closely together to be situated contiguously. This should greatly increase efficiency over our current arrangements. And there’s a beautiful view in almost every direction as well.

My mother, who grew up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, used to tell me that her immigrant parents would move their family of eight children every two years or so, whenever their crowded apartment was in need of a paint job. In those days, landlords would paint an apartment only for a new tenant. It seemed to me as a child that, at one time or another, she must have lived on every street in the neighborhood. We all have our reasons to move when we do. I wanted to make sure that all of you understood why APA was undertaking its current move and the advantages that it offers our Association. When you are in the Washington area, please come see your new headquarters. ▪

Anchor for JumpAnchor for JumpChoosing a home is probably one of the most important decisions a person can make. It is no different for a professional organization. Cost, location, layout, amenities—all must be factored into the decision. And since moving is costly in terms of staff effort, downtime, and actual expenses, choosing wisely is key. Every organization, like every family, wants a place that it can call home for a considerable period of time.

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