wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost2
Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Motley Fool

Market Foolery Featured Podcasts

  • MarketFoolery: 07.28.2014
    Two mergers, two very different reactions on Wall Street.  Zillow buys Trulia for $3.5 billion, but are they overpaying?  On the other hand, Wall Street appears to love Dollar Tree buying fellow discount retailer Family Dollar for $8.5 billion.  We analyze the deals and discuss Virgin America’s impending IPO.
  • MarketFoolery 07.24.2014
    Facebook and Under Armour rise on strong quarterly results.  Plus, Motley Fool Funds analyst Tim Hanson discusses hedge fund manager Bill Ackman’s bet against Herbalife. 
  • MarketFoolery 07.23.2014
    We analyze the latest results from Apple, Pepsi and Comcast.  And if you think we’re not going to talk about National Hot Dog Day, then it’s probably your first time listening to this podcast.
Capital Business
Posted at 05:53 PM ET, 04/25/2013

GSA plans to sell Southeast warehouse where residents want “Half Street Market”


Members of Congress hold a hearing in a vacant warehouse at 49 L Street SE. Neighbors would like to see it used for a food market and job training. ((Jonathan O’Connell))
Federal officials say they no longer need a vacant warehouse in Southeast D.C. near the Nationals Park and a group of nearby residents are pushing the District government to acquire it for redevelopment into a food market and job training center.

A House subcommittee held a hearing Thursday in the empty warehouse to highlight the need to better utilize federal real estate. The Government Accountability Office estimates that management of vacant or under-utilized property costs about $1.67 billion annually.

John L. Mica (R-Fla.), who chairs the subcommittee, said the warehouse at 49 L Street SE was one of thousands of properties that ought to have been put to better use long ago.

An official for the General Services Administration, which manges federal real estate, told the representatives that the 32,013-square-foot brick building was no longer needed by the government and that the agency was in the process of preparing it to be sold or traded for construction services on other projects, for which the GSA is in need of funding.

“Given the high real estate value and rate of growth in the surrounding Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, the 49 L Street property presents us with many potential opportunities to find a better use for or to dispose of a vacant property from the federal real estate inventory and provide considerable savings to taxpayers,” said Michael Gelber, acting deputy commissioner of the GSA’s Public Buildings Service.

That the building could become available was music to the ears of residents of the neighborhood who have put together a plan for what they call Half Street Market, that would combine a neighborhood foodie spot with a workforce development program.

“Half Street Market presents a unique and exciting opportunity to create a public amenity that will promote economic development, support small businesses, and prepare D.C. residents for D.C. jobs,” the group said in an 11-page proposal.

House Democrats Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) expressed enthusiasm for the neighborhood’s plan, with Connolly saying that the input of local residents was important to consider when selling federal property. “It seems to me we have a responsibility to take that very seriously,” he said.

The District government may be interested in buying it to enable the market, according to D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). Wells backed the market idea even though his ward already includes Eastern Market and Union Market. If the price was $19 million — a number Mica mentioned — Wells said the District would “absolutely” look into buying it.

Even Mica said he thought the city ought to have a chance to buy the property so long as it did not sit vacant any longer. “We have a willing buyer in a public entity,” he said.

In an interview following the hearing, Mica said he would be okay with the property being sold to the city for fair market price “if it’s going to stay in the public arena.” The Joint Chiefs of Staff utilized the warehouse until 2009, but it has been vacant since.

The GSA, however, is not in the business of giving away property at a discount even if its acting administrator, Dan Tangherlini, is a former D.C. city administrator and transportation official. Gelber reiterated in an interview that the agency’s preference was to trade the building for construction services, similar to the way the GSA is trying to use the J. Edgar Hoover Building as a trading chip for a new FBI headquarters elsewhere in the region.

GSA has not disclosed how much it believes the L Street warehouse is worth but Gelber said putting it up for auction, as the agency did with the West Heating Plant, would likely fetch the highest price. Adding a requirement that a market be part of the redevelopment wasn’t likely to help the sales price — quite the opposite. “The more conditions you put on a sale the more that you affect valuation,” he said.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

By  |  05:53 PM ET, 04/25/2013

Tags:  GSA, John Mica, Eleanor Holmes Norton, commercial real estate

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company