AIPAC plans considerable growth, D.C. zoning documents show

A rendering of AIPAC’s proposed expansion from its application to the D.C. Zoning Commission.
A rendering of AIPAC’s proposed expansion from its application to the D.C. Zoning Commission.

AIPAC plans to grow considerably in the next three to five years, according to permitting documents it filed with the D.C. Zoning Commission.

The organization, whose mission is to “strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship,” filed an application to expand its current building in Washington and to construct a new 11-story office building next door.

In explaining its need for more space at its Mount Vernon Triangle location, the application refers to AIPAC’s plans to continue to grow as an organization.

“When opened in February 2008, the current headquarters housed 125 employees. In the eight years since opening, AIPAC has grown to 220 employees who currently work in its headquarters,” the document states. “It anticipates having similar further growth during the next three to five years.”

The growth of AIPAC is also seen in the size of its annual conference. The Forward recently reported that in 2004, the conference had approximately 5,000 delegates. In 2012 it had close to 12,000 and last year there were 18,000.

The application to the Zoning Commission states that AIPAC sought to expand its headquarters last year, but this expansion was stopped by a lawsuit from adjacent property owners, who had signed an agreement with AIPAC about the property in 2006. The document makes reference to an agreement reached in the last year between AIPAC and nearby property owners, but does not disclose the terms of the deal.

AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told Washington Jewish Week that AIPAC is in “the early stage of exploring [its] options,” but did not answer further questions.

The I-395 freeway runs under the AIPAC headquarters and the zoning application states that the organization will seek to remove a huge air shaft designed to provide ventilation for the freeway. Should AIPAC not gain approval to remove it, AIPAC will wrap the air shaft with material that “integrates with the design of the project.”

The document states that AIPAC will begin construction to convert the top floor of its current building into office space within two years of receiving approval for this project. It will then begin construction on the 11-story office building two years after that. But the document states, “it is possible that the timing of these two phases will be reversed.”

The application also says that AIPAC will contribute $250,000 to renovate the park across the street from its headquarters. AIPAC filed this application through a subsidiary it owns entirely, 251 Massachusetts Avenue, LLC.

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