​Eisenhower Memorial gets go-ahead funding to start construction

Article Author: 
Rebecca Cooper, Washington Business Journal
News Abstract: 
Buried in the omnibus budget bill Congress negotiated late into the night Sunday was a win for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial planned near the National Mall: $45 million in funding, the essential go-ahead to start work at the site.

The budget line meets the request from the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, which told the House and Senate appropriations committees in February 2016 that it needed $43 million to start construction in fiscal 2017 and $1.8 million for commission operations.

The commission estimates it needs about $84 million in federal funding to complete construction on the memorial for the 34th president. The commission will request the additional $41 million in fiscal 2018, according to its fiscal 2017 budget justification.

The omnibus funding bill, which is expected to go to a vote Wednesday, also extends the commission’s right to build on the 4-acre site at Independence Avenue and Sixth Street SW for an additional two years. The language also directs the commission to use prior year funds to begin preparing the site for development.

The $150 million Frank Gehry-designed has had a bumpy history. Members of the Eisenhower family objected to several aspects of the design, leading to a delay in local design approval and hesitancy in Congress to fund the project. The family, the architect and the commission reached a compromise in September.

The memorial commission is also working to raise $25 million in private donations, according to spokeswoman Chris Cimko. It's about halfway to that goal, Cimko said, declining to provide a specific figure.

The Eisenhower Memorial’s fundraising page lists corporations including FedEx, The Starr Foundation and Honeywell, not to mention the government of Taiwan, as contributing between $1 million and $4.9 million each to the cause. Dozens of other donors have contributed lower amounts as well.

The commission currently has a solicitation open for the construction of the memorial with bids due May 26. The aim is to break ground sometime in the fall. The museum’s (sic) opening is now estimated to be in the spring of 2020, perhaps around V-E Day, which is May 8, or D-Day, which is June 6, Cimko said.

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News Date: 
Monday, May 1, 2017