Rep. Mica Has Dream to Add to National Gallery

Tuesday, 21 Jun 2011 10:28 AM

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Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., has a dream when he sees the Apex Building, home of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Florida Republican is an art aficionado who wants to transform the building into an annex of the National Gallery just across the street, The Washington Post reported.

John Mica, National Gallery
Rep. John Mica: “I think this is something generational that you can leave for people." (Getty Images Photo)
The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which oversees federal building and leases, has been on the mission for five years. He describes himself as “persistent” and says he plans to “stick around to see that it’s done.”

If Mica’s dream is realized, the National Gallery would expand to occupy three buildings and acquire 300,000 new square feet of space, the Post reported.

National Gallery Director Earl Powell said, “He clearly has a vision. I think it is inspiring.” However, Powell was quick to note that the idea originated with Mica. “Certainly none of us were thinking, ‘Gosh, there’s the FTC building, let’s go for it,’ ” the Post quoted him as saying.

The $200 million needed for conversion would come from donations, according to Mica’s proposal. However, whether the plan ever leaves the drawing board is unclear. The FTC itself is spread over three buildings, and where it would find new space and at what cost is anyone’s guess. Also, the stewards of building for the past 73 years are not exactly keen to move, the Post reported.

The building was constructed for the FTC, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was on hand to lay the cornerstone with the same silver trowel George Washington used to lay the cornerstone of the Capitol building in 1793. FTC Chairman Jon Liebowitz said that, when Roosevelt “got out of his wheelchair to make the dedication speech, he envisioned this as our permanent home. You know, we’re very attached to it.”

Nonetheless, Mica has a number of avenues open to make it happen, from dealing making to congressional maneuvering.

“Nobody’s going to remember John Mica in the scheme of things. I’ll pass an FAA bill that lasts for four years. I’ll pass a transportation bill that may last for six years. I think this is something generational that you can leave for people. Not for me, I’ll be gone,” he said.

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