West Heating Plant Gets Its First Bid on Valentine’s Day

The West Heating Plant on 29th Street, a big clunk of Federal property in Georgetown for sale by the General Services Administration, got some love on St. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, when one bid for $500,001 showed up on the GSA auction website.

Bidder number one popped up on the GSA website in middle of the afternoon with fewer than five days remaining on the auction, which began Jan. 18 and closes Tuesday, Feb. 19.

A half-million dollars may sound like a low-ball amount for a prime, two-acre site, just half a block from the M Street business corridor, but the Valentine bid illustrates the problems with the property for would-be owners. No new building is allowed on the site, no new windows may be added to the existing heating plant and parkland is to be incorporated along the property. The building’s new owner must also begin a massive clean-up and reconstruction, such as tearing out pipes and the metal features of the interior with a good detox of the entire structure, estimated to cost in the tens of millions of dollars.

The strategy that some bidders might wait for the last few days of the auction to put in their bids remains to be seen.

Georgetown developers and citizens have been discussing the impending sale for more than a year. Along with Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans and others, the Citizens Association of Georgetown asked for part of the site to be green space, connecting it with the C&O Canal and Rock Creek. Developers and commercial real estate owners appeared to have the money and plans drawn and ready to go.

The broker in change, Jones Lang Lasalle, touts the building as “Georgetown Heating Plant: A Landmark With Monumental Potential.”

The views from the heating plant’s rooftop are indeed monumental — the Potomac River directly south, to the east, view of the National Mall and Watergate, to the north the National Cathedral and just west all of Georgetown before you — and made the property seem like an easy sale. The 29th Street building itself was the site of a June 19, 2012, congressional hearing that chided GSA’s slowness in disposing of old and unused government property.

How is how GSA describes its prime property at 1051 29th Street, NW: “The 2.08-acre property is located in the historic Georgetown district of Washington, D.C., and contains one building, a 110-foot tall former heating plant and four large fuel oil storage tanks. A large concrete and stone retaining wall surrounds much of the site consisting of 9,335 rentable square feet over six partial interior floors. The building footprint is approximately 100 feet by 200 feet. The plant contains significant amounts of equipment and piping related to the former steam generation activities. Steam generation activities ceased at the facility in 2000; since then the property has been used for office purposes and as the site of the backup fuel supply for the GSA Central Heating Plant. GSA vacated the facility in May 2012.”

For sales information and online auction assistance, contact Tim Sheckler — 202-401-5806 or Tim.Sheckler@GSA.gov

For more information —www.georgetownheatingplant.com.

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