Left to right, Denis Turner-Roth, Rep. Greg Meeks, Hope Knight and Yvonne Reddick at the Joe Addabbo Building last Friday. Photo by Trone Dowd.
BY TRONE DOWD
Last Friday, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) held a joint press conference with Denise Turner-Roth, administrator of the General Services Administration, to announce that the studies conducted on the Joe Addabbo building, located at 155-10 Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica were concluded and that the federal agency had already been determining ways to utilize the available space more efficiently.
“They have taken great concern and care when looking at this facility and how we can maximize two things,” Meeks said. “How we can save taxpayer dollars by making sure we’re utilizing more of the federal space, making sure employees that are working there, and how it saves communities. This building can become a starting point. It can build a foundation around communities, creating jobs and opportunities for folks throughout.”
According to Roth, the new plan is apart of a country wide initiative to reduce the footprint of federal buildings. This will make keeping tabs on facilities in all states easier for the GSA. By reducing the space that agencies take in buildings like the Joe Addabbo building, there will now be space for additional federal programs to occupy the same area.
“In this space in particular, we see an opportunity to bring in some of our agencies […] while also supporting the development of this area,” Roth said, elaborating that producing a win-win situation that benefits the community and the agencies is a priority of GSA.
Determining specific plans for where and exactly how many agencies can join the SSA in the building will cost $8.4 million in additional studies.
Since early 2014, the Joe Addabbo Building has been under fire due to how it was being used. It was reported that three of the building’s 11 floors were being used as storage for files and documents. Built in 1982, the building has served as the Social Security Administration’s Northeastern Program Service Center. It was meant to bring 3,000 jobs to the Southeast Queens neighborhoods. It was determined that the building was employing less than half of the figure just two years ago.
To help fix the issue, Meeks organized a meeting with GSA and SSA and pushed for monthly progress reports on the usage of the floors they occupied. This information would be used to conduct studies on the building in the coming months. Back in January, the Press of Southeast Queens reported that the studies were complete and that the next phase of making the building efficient again would be feasibility studies.
“Maximizing the space will help our overall economy,” Meeks said.
A 30-minute tour of the building was conducted to give Queens elected officials and community leaders, including Borough president Melinda Katz, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation President Hope Knight and Yvonne Reddick of Community Board 12 a chance to see more of the 34 year-old building.
“By being here today, [President Obama] and Ms. Roth have shown a commitment making sure that this building is a catalyst for social services that are desperately needed by our constituency here,” Katz said.
Roth told the Press of Southeast Queens that the new organizations that would move into the building would be federal agencies that compliment the SSA.
“There are agencies that support similar customers,” Roth said. “That would be ideal. It really works well when there are a concentration of agencies, so when the public needs to see them, they’re all in one place.”
Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @theloniusly