The ribbon was cut at the first permanent home of the U.S. Coast Guard in its 223-year history Monday at the site of the old St. Elizabeths Mental Hospital's west campus.
The building was transformed into 1.2 million square feet of state of the art construction with a spectacular view of the Potomac, Bolling Air Force Base, Virginia and the Pentagon.
"It's a huge powerful statement for they instruct of Columbia to be here in the city, to increase its presence," D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said. "It helps us to fulfill our goals of being able to have this as a catalyst for the rejuvenation of Southeast Washington."
The new headquarters is the first phase of a plan by the Department of Homeland security to consolidate its agencies and assets on one secure campus to better respond to emergencies, disasters and terror threats.
"When I became Homeland Security secretary in 2009, one of my key principals was the idea of one [Department of Homeland Security], symbolizing a department that is strong, unified and confident in its mission," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.
Just under 4,000 employees with the Coast Guard will move into the building next week.
"Finally Ward 8 is getting its due," Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said. "The bias that kept the federal government from believing it had a future on this side of the Anacostia has disappeared."
The Coast Guard Headquarters has 500,000 square feet of green roof -- the largest of any federal building using live vegetation for energy efficiency.
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