Federal Triangle South: Redeveloping Underutilized Federal Property Through Public Private Partnerships
Location: 2253 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
Federal Triangle South (FTS) is located in the southwest portion of the District of Columbia, adjacent to the National Mall and just minutes from the U.S. Capitol and White House. FTS contains several large federal properties – including facilities of the Department of Energy, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the General Services Administration – which are inefficient, costly to maintain, and have a backlog of maintenance requirements. Furthermore, FTS is highly valuable underdeveloped property and not all the federal buildings there are occupied. For example, the Cotton Annex federal building has sat vacant for the last six years.
Today’s hearing is on Federal Triangle South in Washington, D.C. and how we can use public private partnerships, or P3s, to redevelop underutilized federal real property.
There are key challenges that we face today with managing the federal real property inventory. One challenge is to get federal agencies to think differently about the space they use. While the private sector understands that space is money and so has moved towards smaller, more efficient space solutions, the federal government has been slow to adopt this philosophy.
This committee worked in recent years, on a bipartisan basis, to reduce the federal real property footprint and to get federal agencies to use space more efficiently. We succeeded in getting agencies to reduce their space requests submitted to this committee and the Administration has issued directives on freezing the federal space footprint. While there are still agencies that seem to be slow in getting the memo, many others have started realizing that the more they pay for space, the less funding they have for people and their core missions.
But even as we move towards freezing or even reducing the space footprint, the reality is federal agencies are going to continue to need space to do their jobs. The question is – how do we ensure we are optimizing the utilization of that space and reducing the costs to the taxpayer?
Much of the federal space inventory is aging and inefficient. And with the current budget climate and record deficits, we must look for alternatives to traditional federal construction of new space. That is why, when I became chairman of this subcommittee, I began to explore how P3s could be used in federal real estate. Earlier this year, we held a hearing focusing on options for a new FBI headquarters and I hosted a roundtable to begin a dialogue with public and private real estate experts on P3s.
In recent years, there has been significant interest in exploring the use of P3s in redeveloping the area known as Federal Triangle South here in the Nation’s Capital. This site, adjacent to the National Mall, has a combination of underutilized and vacant properties. The current federal tenants include the Department of Energy, FAA, and GSA. The buildings that are used are inefficient and costly to maintain and sit on underutilized prime real estate in the heart of D.C.
As a first step towards redeveloping this site, in 2012, GSA issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input from the private sector. If done correctly, redevelopment of this area, leveraging private investment, could benefit the federal taxpayer, the tenant agencies, as well as the local community.
Unfortunately, there are underutilized and vacant federal properties across our Nation. There are not only direct costs to the taxpayer in maintaining and operating them, but they also impact the communities in which they sit – often limiting private investment and development of prime real estate.
I hope that proposals like the one for Federal Triangle South can be a template for how we can use P3s to address the problem of underutilized and inefficient Federal real estate across the country. I look forward to hearing today where we are in the process of redeveloping Federal Triangle South, what the benefits would be, and how we can use P3s to address the problem of underutilized properties.
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