GSA plans new life for Old Post Office

Tuesday - 4/5/2011, 9:31am EDT

Cathy Kronopolis, Regional Commissioner, National Capital Region, Public Building Service, GSA

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

One of the most recognizable features of the Washington skyline is for lease, but only to the right bidder.

The main building of the Old Post Office contains 315,000 square feet of space with federal tenants in 225,000 of it. The General Services Administration wants to turn that underused federal office space into a private sector initiative.

The Post Office building in Washington circa 1911. (Photo from shorpy.com)

"The aesthetics of the building is really good," Cathy Kronopolus told Federal News Radio, "but the building needs work."

Kronopolus, Regional Commissioner for the National Capital Region at GSA's Public Building Service, says with tightening budgets and "a building that really needs to be redone from the inside, completely, so it can be usable," GSA is looking for help from the private sector.

GSA has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the redevelopment of the Old Post Office building and annex. They're looking for any kind of use that would make it profitable. "It is not about tearing down the building because we're certainly going to protect the integrity of this national landmark," said Kronopolis. She said GSA would like to have private sector companiess come in and tell them what kind of "return on investment they can get with office, hotel, retail...we're really leaving that part open, but the historic integrity of the building will be preserved."

The developer would "commit to restoring, preserving the historic features inside and out. They'll pay for the lease and the property would return to us at the end," said Kronopolis.

She said GSA is looking forward to seeing what the proposals bring, including the possibility of a new front door. "That would be very nice!," she enthused.

Improvements to the 19th Century building have been a long time coming, agreed Kronoplis. "If it were easy, it would have been done."

GSA, she said, sees the proposed partnership as a win-win situation. "We get this landmark renovated and preserved and they get a return on their investment."

Responses to the RFP are due July 20, with a selection expected in November. Federal tenants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, GSA and the National Park Service will start moving out in 2013 and project starts 2014.

You'll be able to track the project's progress on GSA's website.