Next month Metro’s board of directors will consider a broad agreement aimed at enticing the federal government to relocate agencies to four prominent Metro-owned sites in the District, Maryland and Virginia.
According to Steven Goldin, director of real estate at Metro, the memorandum of understanding being negotiated with the General Services Administration would outline a process whereby the federal government could secure rights to the Metro sites in advance of large agency relocations.
Goldin said he brought the idea to the GSA about two years ago as a way of jumpstarting development on long-vacant Metro land. Leases with the GSA, the largest single employer in the Washington area, are highly sought after by developers. “Metro wants to place its real estate in the path of opportunity,” Goldin said of the deal.
Goldin declined to publicly name the four Metro sites included in the agreement, but a source familiar with the negotiations said they are located at the Anacostia, Branch Avenue, Huntington and Naylor Road Metro stations. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because the negotiations are still confidential.
Attracting major federal employers to any of the sites would mean the relocation of hundreds of jobs and likely enable large mixed-use developments — something long sought after in Prince George’s County and Anacostia, where three of the stations are located.
Although GSA is weathering budget reductions that have hampered its ability to finance new construction, the agency still manages major consolidations for agencies that are in need of new space. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, for instance, inhabits the deteriorating J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue and one of its options is to try to relocate elsewhere.
Robert Peck, head of the Public Buildings Service for the GSA, said recently that the deal with Metro could allow the government to lock in transit-oriented sites and then seek development partners as it always does. “We might be able to say, this is the site that we want and we will conduct a private competition for the development,” he said.
“For us, it’s the opportunity to find transit-oriented sites for our agencies,” Peck added. “For them, it’s a lot of prime properties that they’ve been sitting on for way too long.”
Goldin said he hoped the deal would reduce the likelihood that GSA lease deals are contested because the agency would not be required to compare different sites. “When you take the location aspect out of these solicitations it simplifies them and makes them less susceptible to challenges,” he said.
Goldin said that if the board approves the initial idea, a second more detailed agreement would be required to guide the terms under which the GSA would lease Metro property.