The real estate arm of the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority is negotiating a broad partnership with the General Services Administration aimed at locating federal office facilities near Metrorail stations.
Steven Goldin, director of real estate at Metro, outlined a plan to match the federal government’s future space needs with available property at many of Metro’s 86 stations to members of the agency’s board of directors in a closed-door executive session July 21, according to two board members who declined to be named because the plans were intended to be kept private.
Goldin, once a private sector developer from New Jersey, has reinvigorated Metro’s real estate unit by renegotiating distressed deals and beginning a partnership with developers Forest City-Washington and Urban Atlantic aimed at developing nearly 40 acres of public land in New Carrollton.
Neither agency provided many details about the talks. Metro responded to questions about the negotiations by issuing a statement saying: “We are always looking to monetize the value of our land assets to create additional revenue through increased ridership and foster economic development in our service jurisdictions. In that regard, our real estate program continually looks for innovative ways to achieve these goals.”
The GSA, which acts as a real estate broker for most federal agencies and holds 500 Washington-area leases, said it supports Metro’s efforts to pursue transit-oriented development.
“While each location decision is unique and has to be competed, we are tremendously encouraged by the cooperative and constructive relationships we have established with Metro and the counties in which current and future stations are located,” the agency said in a statement.
A partnership between the two agencies could have widespread ramifications for how the region develops long term. The federal government — with 300,000 Washington-area employees — is the area’s largest single employer, while Metro controls hundreds of acres immediately adjacent to its stations at a time when real estate with access to public transit is increasingly worth a premium.
Such an agreement could also provide an economic development boost to Prince George’s County, which has seen sparse development atop its Metro stations. Congressional, state and county officials have been pressing the GSA to relocate more offices to the county, but have had little luck recently, with the GSA opting to keep nearly a million-square-foot lease for the Department of Health and Human Services in Rockville (a decision that is being protested) and deciding to cancel a solicitation for space for the Department of Homeland Security. Developers with land near Prince George’s County Metro stations had submitted proposals for both deals.
Washington Post staff writer Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this story.