Housing Complex

GSA Chief: Funding Boost Won’t Reduce Urgency of Southwest Overhaul

In last week's column, I highlighted how belt-tightening in the federal government presented a golden opportunity to the District. With the feds' landlord, the General Services Administration, getting part of the rent it collects diverted to other federal programs, GSA needs to cut costs, and it plans to do so in part by consolidating its offices in the Southwest area known as Federal Triangle South and creating a livelier, more pedestrian-friendly area. GSA's hurried approach has also accelerated the broader Southwest Ecodistrict project to transform much of the quadrant into a green, mixed-use zone.

But just now, GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini announced on a call with reporters that President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2014 budget proposal would restore the agency's ability to spend the money it collects on repair and construction of federal buildings. "For GSA, this means a critical, common-sense investment in the buildings we manage," he said.

But what does it mean for the District? I asked Tangherlini if the funding boost would diminish the urgency of the Federal Triangle South project.

"It doesn’t change the urgency for the Federal Triangle South," Tangherlini replied. "The fact is that we still have substantial needs for reinvestments in the buildings."

Tangherlini hopes that the increased funding can actually help move projects like Federal Triangle South and the planned FBI relocation "up in the queue" of GSA's priorities. But another D.C. project is likely to see a bigger boost from the budget: the consolidated Department of Homeland Security headquarters on the St. Elizabeths west campus in Ward 8. Funding for the project still isn't entirely there, but the budget proposal gets GSA more than $200 million closer.

Illustration by Jandos Rothstein

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