GSA floats swapping Labor Department headquarters for new site

The General Services Administration is seeking a new D.C. home for the Department of Labor and could offer up some prime real estate along Constitution Avenue in exchange.

The GSA announced Monday afternoon it is seeking between 850,000 and 1.4 million square feet for Labor, now based near the Capitol in the Frances Perkins Building at 200 Constitution Ave. NW. The Perkins building is 41 years old, according to the GSA, and in need of significant and costly repairs. The GSA is considering trading the Perkins building and the 10.5 acres on which it sits for a new headquarters as an alternative.

It is still early in the process, as the notice GSA posted to is an informational request for expressions of interest rather than a more formal request for proposals. Its range of options include a swap for other federally owned sites elsewhere in the District.

As with many other federal agencies, the Labor Department is exploring options for more modern and efficient space that a new headquarters would allow. The 1.85 million-square-foot Perkins building was built in 1974 for the agency’s headquarters. It was named for Frances Perkins in 1980 in recognition of the first woman appointed to a presidential Cabinet post. President Gerald Ford laid the cornerstone for the headquarters building.

The exchange concept is one the GSA, the federal government’s real estate arm, is also exploring with its search for a new FBI headquarters as well as its proposed swap of Federal Triangle South real estate in exchange for construction services. Recent concern has been raised, however, about whether the federal government can get the best value through an exchange compared with seeking developers to build a new headquarters outright.

According to the request for expressions of interest, the GSA is weighing options that include donated sites; sites to be sold to the GSA through no-cost, assignable purchase options; or privately held sites where the landowner retains the exclusive development rights to build a new Labor headquarters.

Donations are preferred, according to the notice. Based on the responses it receives, the GSA expects to release a follow-on request for qualifications for potential exchange partners and, later, a request for proposals from qualified developers.

Read the full story from the Washington Business Journal.

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