Big Share of GSA Stimulus Funding to Stay in D.C.

By Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 2, 2009

The biggest share of stimulus money to repair, retrofit and create federal buildings will stay right here in the local economy, according to a General Service Administration plan released yesterday.

District projects will get slightly more than $1.2 billion, said Mike McGill, a regional spokesman for the GSA. That's more than one-fifth of the $5.5 billion the GSA received in stimulus money for construction projects from the Canadian border crossing at Madawaska, Maine, to the Prince Kuhio Federal Building in Honolulu, according to the GSA list.

The funding does not appear out of line with the District's share of the 358 million square feet of GSA-managed building space. A little more than one-quarter of the total, 96 million square feet, is in the District, McGill said.

The largest chunk of GSA stimulus money will go toward the biggest project the agency has ever undertaken, the conversion of part of the St. Elizabeths Hospital campus in Southeast Washington into headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security, McGill said.

Many of the Washington projects involve "green building" modernization, security measures or general repair. More than 70 of the GSA-run buildings in the District are older, historic structures that are on the National Register of Historic Places, McGill said.

The GSA plan is good news for the region's building industry, especially architects, who have been hit hard by the recession, said Andrew L. Goldberg, a senior director at the American Institute of Architects.

The infusion is so big that it will present new opportunities for firms and professional workers not already involved in government projects.

"Because it is so much work in such a short period of time, they are going to be pursuing a lot of talent," Goldberg said.

McGill said the GSA cannot estimate how many new jobs the stimulus will make possible.

The largest local projects include:

-- Department of Homeland Security, $450 million toward the creation of the headquarters on the St. Elizabeths campus.

-- GSA headquarters at 1800 F St. NW, $161 million toward green building modernization.

-- Department of Commerce building, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, $225 million for the second and third phases of a renovation project.

-- Lafayette Building, which houses the Export-Import Bank and part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 811 Vermont Ave. NW, modernization, $128 million.

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