The General Services Administration last week withdrew its proposal to spend $6.1 million to renovate Washington's only remaining "tempo" building -- the Liberty Loan Building on 14th Street beside the Tidal Basin.
The proposed renovation of the building, constructed in 1918 as a "temporary" structure, was withdrawn by GSA just before the National Capital Planning Commission met to consider the project. The proposal was "premature" and may be dropped entirely, according to Jean Allen, GSA director of communications.
It was "premature since we did not have congressional approval and in view of the obvious opposition of the planning commission staff," Allen explained after the last-minute withdrawal. The proposal had been submitted because the government desperately needs additional office space in Washington but does not want to spend large sums to build or lease new buildings, Allen said.
The federal planning agency's staff has called the restoration of the building a waste of money and the perpetuation of an eyesore beside the famed Tidal Basin -- on land that is supposed to be parkland. The five-story building is the first structure visitors see when entering Washington from the 14th Street Bridge. It is the building nearest the Tidal Basin, except for the Jefferson Memorial, and was constructed as a temporary home for the World War I Liberty Loan bond drive.
GSA told Congress last year the estimated renovation cost would be $3.5 million, less expensive than building or leasing offices for the 504 Treasury Department employes who work in the Liberty Loan Building. However, the building would have to be virtually gutted, and renovation costs are now estimated at $6.1 million.