None other than Ken Salazar, secretary of the Department of the Interior, and Martha Johnson, administrator of the General Services Administration, trekked over to Georgetown yesterday, Oct. 19, with CNN cameras to tour the West Heating Plant, which the federal government is looking to sell as part of its effort to find cost savings in real estate. See the video here.
As we covered this morning, development companies — particularly Anthony Lanier’s EastBanc — have been studying the property for some time. And I can understand why many Georgetown residents are eager for something to replace the vacant power plant in their neighborhood. The Georgetown Metropolitan blog recently suggested turning the plant into a museum.
There likely will be challenges to any plan:
1) This is a former coal plant, which probably means broad and expensive environmental clean-up will be required.
2) The plant’s art deco building has historical significance, which makes developing it much more difficult, as EastBanc’s Joseph Sternlieb pointed out.
3) The plant is in Georgetown, a community that likes to, shall we say, closely inspect any and all new development plans.
4) The federal government owns it and the federal government is not known for moving quickly. Consider the still uncertain fate of the Old Post Office Pavilion.
In sum: Development of the West Heating Plant will likely take a looooong time.