The General Services Administration, after two years of internal debate, has decided to move ahead with plans to develop a Southeast Federal Center along the banks of the Anacostia River in the District.
The project, which would occupy 60.5 acres west of the Washington Navy Yard, envisions office space for 30,000 federal employes in 20 buildings that would be constructed over the next two decades. Currently, no specific building plans have been made.
The plan originally was developed in 1982-83 under the auspices of GSA's public buildings commissioner at the time, Richard O. Haase.
But Gerald P. Carmen, then GSA administrator, said that it was counter to the interests of the Reagan administration to propose a billion-dollar construction project that had little hope of being funded because of tight budgets.
Over the past two years, GSA officials insisted that the plans were being revised, but when the study was unveiled this week by GSA's deputy assistant regional administrator Jack Finberg, it was the same as the one advanced in February 1983.
"The time was not right then; it is right now," Finberg said. "This is just a plan, an outline. It is not a construction program."
Finberg said that the National Capital Planning Commission would be reviewing the "general concepts" of the plan at its May 2 meeting.
In addition, the plan was sent in March to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the District of Columbia State Historic Preservation Officer. The latter two groups have not yet commented.
Under the plan, GSA plans to develop a federal complex that will maintain the waterfront character of the property and blend it with the industrial southeast and the urban office zone that is being planned.
GSA plans to invite private tenants into most of the buildings to allow for convenient retail, food and other establishments to share space in the federal buildings.
After five years of delay, GSA has decided to move ahead with plans to restore the old U.S. Auditors Building on Independence Avenue between 14th and 15th streets. A 1979 plan called for the facility to be used as a model project under the Cooperative Use act, with the ground-floor space turned over to small shops and eateries.
Eventually, GSA abandoned the idea of using the Auditors Building and renovated the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue as a model project.
Under the new plan, the 1880s-vintage structure will get a $9.95 million remodeling, beginning in September. A new heating and air conditioning system will be put in along with new fire stairs and toilets.
All of the work will be done in accordance with historic preservation requirements, according to GSA officials.
The Agriculture Department occupies most of the building (75,000 square feet) and will take over portions that are currently unusable plus a 7,000-square-foot U.S. Information Agency photo lab that is moving to a CIA complex at the GSA portion of the Washington Navy Yard.
The Auditors building was originally built to house the Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing. New wings were added in 1891, 1896 and 1900 giving the facility its present, sprawling shape.
During most of its life, it housed government auditors. Treasury turned it over to GSA in 1950, and GSA moved in the USDA workers.
GSA plans to build an addition to the Central Intelligence Agency's warehouse complex in Franconia. The new 81,000-square-foot warehouse building will have "classified" uses, according to GSA spokesman Dale Bruce.
GSA's adjacent warehouse facilities for civilian agencies -- separated from the CIA buildings by a barbed wire fence -- are also going to change shape soon because Fairfax County plans to run the so-called Springfield Bypass through the front yard of the complex.
GSA last week tentatively agreed to give the Virginia highway department an acre of land but asked that planners consider raising the highway above ground so the current access route into the warehouse complex could be maintained.
GSA is looking for construction firms to bid on several major area projects this month, including $1 million to $5 million worth of site preparation work for the new International Chancery Center in Northwest Washington. (Bids are due April 16.) Removing asbestos from the Navy's Federal Office Building No. 2 in Arlington. Bids for the $125,000 to $250,000 project are due April 23. And the renovation of a courtroom in the U.S. Courthouse in the District. Bids are due April 22 for the $25,000 to $100,000 project.
Sen. Robert T. Stafford (R-Vt.) and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) have introduced legislation that will make the head of the Public Buildings Service in GSA a presidential appointee who must be confirmed by the Senate. Currently, the only GSA official who faces Senate confirmation is the administrator.