World Bank opts against massive N.Va. real estate buy


Officials outside the World Bank headquarters, at 1818 H Street NW. (Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg)

After months of inquiring about the availability of office parks and campuses in Northern Virginia, the World Bank has stepped back from plans to move some of its operations to the commonwealth, according to sources familiar with the bank’s decision-making.

The bank had considered bold moves such as buying the Gannett headquarters, the 117-acre Exxon Mobil campus in Merrifield and a number of other big-ticket properties, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition on anonymity because World Bank leadership as a policy does not discuss its real estate operations.

“The World Bank does not comment on any commercial real estate transactions we may be considering,” said World Bank spokesman Frederick Jones.

The most widely circulated rumors of the bank’s interest revolved around the Gannett headquarters at 7960 Jones Branch Dr. before the media giant eventually announced that the property was not for sale. Earlier this month, when Gannett said that it would spin off its newspaper division, Gannett said both companies would remain in McLean.

Relocating some of its operations to Northern Virginia might have saved the bank some costs at a time when federal agencies, under the direction of President Obama and the General Services Administration, are cutting back both on their real estate space and costs.

The bank owns some extremely attractive — and pricey — real estate in Foggy Bottom, centered around its 400,000-square-foot headquarters at 1818 H St. NW, which comprises an entire block between 18th and 19th streets. The bank owns three other buildings nearby, 1850 I St.t, 600 19th St. and 701 18th St., according to the real estate data firm CoStar Group.

In 2010, the bank plopped down $216 million for 1225 Connecticut Ave., a newly renovated building south of Dupont Circle that is one the most environmentally friendly buildings in the city.

Combined the five buildings comprise nearly 2 million square feet, at a 2014 assessed value of more than $952 million. The bank also leases space in the other buildings in the neighborhood. Here’s a map of its locations:


(Courtesy Web.Worldbank.Org)

Few entities enjoy so much space so close to the White House. As other Washington institutions continue moving to cheaper digs outside of Washington’s traditional downtown, the FBI included, the World Bank’s holdings in Foggy Bottom could appear increasingly out of step.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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