Much has been made about how political gridlock in Congress has slowed the federal budget process, prevented the consideration of
nominees for top government jobs and nearly led the county to default on its debt obligations last year.
The partisan warfare is wreaking chaos on Washington commercial real estate owners as well. This isn’t just a matter of cutbacks to federal construction projects; some of those who are most affected are companies with buildings where federal agencies are tenants and whose leases are due to expire shortly. Congress in recent years has been slower than usual in considering new lease requests from the General Services Administration, which manages federal real estate.
In fiscal year 2011, for instance, the GSA sent Congress 19 real estate Washington-area requests (or prospectuses) totaling about 5.1 million square feet. Of those, four have been approved.
In this fiscal year, the GSA has sent Congress five local prospectuses, and none have been approved so far. Here are the agencies and their real estate requests, via the GSA:
• Consumer Products Safety Commission, currently located at 4340 East-West Highway in Bethesda. Needs 124,000 square feet.
• Department of Treasury/Financial Management Service, currently located at 3700 East-West Highway in Hyattsville. Needs 327,000 square feet.
• Department of Defense/Pentagon Force Protection, currently located at 5611 Columbia Pike in Falls Church. Needs 281,000 square feet.
• Department of Agriculture/Forest Service, currently located at 1601 and 1621 North Kent Street in Arlington. Needs 106,000 square feet.
• Department of Defense/Office of the Director of National Intelligence, currently located at multiple locations in Northern Virginia. Needs 183,000 square feet.
In all, about 4.9 million square feet of Washington-area GSA leases from this year and last are awaiting Congressional action. As long as they remain untouched, landlords have little idea whether government tenants will be staying or leaving.
Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz