The General Services Administration has recommended to Congress that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission consolidate its nine metropolitan locations in a downtown building to be constructed, preferably across the street from the Hecht Co. department store.
The House Public Works Committee already has approved the GSA recommendation that a new regulatory commission office be constructed in Washington. The GSA report suggested five urban renewal areas in the city as suitable for the commission and its 2,000 employees to lease office space. All but one of the sites is in or near downtown Washington.
The GSA recommendation is now before the Senate Public Works Committee.
The GSA said its favored site is the block bounded by 6th, 7th, F, and G Streets NW. If that location is approved, it will spur additional revitalization in Washington's old downtown, an area that has become the focus for several redevelopment projects in recent months.
Developers have announced plans to build office, retail and hotel projects of the present site of the National Press Building at 529 14th St. west of Garfinckel's department store at 14th and F Streets NW.
In addition the city government has proposed buildin a new convention center to the south and west of Mount Vernon Square NW., a project that city planners believe could create substantial "spin-off" renewal in adjacent section of the old downtown. Congress has yet agree to the convention center proposal, however.
GSA officials said the agency has not progressed to the point of indentifying a specfic pareel for the regulatory commission's new offices.The block that is the prefrred site now contains parking lots, vacant buildings, small diners, lawyers' offices, studios, the National Black Veterans Organization and the National Center for the War on Waste.
D.C. housing official Roy Priest said the city already owns nearly all the block and leases space to businesses now operating there. If the site is cnocen for the regulatory commission, those businesses would be relocated, Priest said.
Currently, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the agency that licenses commercial nuclear reactors, has nine separate office in Washington, Rockville, Bethesda and Silver Spring. One commission official said the offices are 7 to 10 miles apart.
"We have the staff going all over for meetings, and we have to ship paper back and forth in vans between offices," the offical said. "We (the commission) all agreed we ought to be in one place."
The House Committee on Public Works and Transportation approved the GSA report on relocation the commission last month, and authorized up to $5.7 million annually to lease a 600,000-square-foot building that would be built and owned by a private developer.
The redevelopment areas suggested by GSA in the report include Fort Lincoln, downtown and urban renewal areas near downtown in near southeast, northeast and southwest Washington.
John Galuardi, GSA Regional administrator, said that if the Senate committee approves the project, GSA will select the most suitable location and will sign a formal site option agreement with the city. GSA then will solicit offers, and the succesful bidder will buy the site, construct a building and lease space to the government for the commission offices.
GSA officials met D.C. Housing and Community Development Director Lorenzo W. Jacobs Jr. recently to discuss the project, according to an information sheet from the GSA.
Jacobs and the D.C. government support an urban renewal site for the proposed buildings, "seeing the project as a means of contributing significantly to the revitalization of the downton area of the city," the statement said.
Jau Solomon, administrator of GSA, said other federal agencies have the same problems as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Solomon said the trend in many agencies is to try to relocate in Washington.
"There is a need for consolidation," Solomon said. Many agencies just "grew - and grew anyplace. It's not the right way to operate," he added.