The Cotton Annex and GSA building are part of today's request for qualifications.
The Cotton Annex and GSA building are part of today's request for qualifications.

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The federal government is offering up two prime, if outdated, buildings in Southwest D.C. to a developer in exchange for renovation work on the General Services Administration headquarters and the St. Elizabeths campus.

The GSA issued a request for qualifications today for a developer to renovate the GSA headquarters at 1800 F St. NW in order to consolidate around 1,500 regional employees from nearby offices into the building, as well as to renovate up to three buildings on the St. Elizabeths West Campus south of Anacostia, where the Department of Homeland Security is planning to establish a new headquarters. In exchange, the agency would give the developer two buildings: the vacant Cotton Annex at 300 12th St. SW and a GSA regional office building two blocks to the east.

“We think that this represents an opportunity for us to reexamine how we use these buildings and reassess how this space fits into the community around these buildings,” Dan Tangherlini, the GSA administrator, said on a conference call with reporters. Tangherlini called the two buildings the GSA is looking to unload “outdated” but “primed and ready to go.”

The move conforms with two broader initiatives by the GSA, which manages federal office buildings: one to downsize its footprint—-exemplified by the move to shared workspaces in the agency’s own headquarters—-and another to convert the federal office enclave south of the National Mall into a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood dubbed “Federal Triangle South.”

The Federal Triangle South plan involves the two properties listed in today’s RFQ, plus two bigger ones: the Department of Energy and Federal Aviation Administration buildings on Independence Avenue SW. The latter buildings, Tangherlini said, are “much more complicated projects,” and their fate will be decided later, based in part on the success of the current undertaking. “We’re trying to gain a sense from the experience we have with these buildings,” he said.

Responses from interested developers are due by May 22. This summer, the GSA will invite short-listed respondents to submit a more detailed proposal by the fall. The agency hopes to have a development agreement in place by next spring or summer.

Illustration by Jandos Rothstein