The West Heating Plant, one of the last large, underutilized properties in Georgetown, goes on the auction block today at 8 a.m. The General Services Administration auction requires a registration deposit of $500,000, which is also the starting bid.
Bids must be made in increments of $200,000. The auction closes at 5 p.m. Feb. 19, though GSA reserves the right to a possible auction extension.
The decommissioned federal property at 29th and K Streets, NW includes a 20,000 square-foot building on a 2-acre lot.
The auction comes after a year of community meetings, site evaluations, public input period and other actions necessary to dispose of federal property. Most recently in December the GSA posted its Environmental Assessment (EA) online to allow for public review and comment on the disposition's potential impact on the community.
Though GSA initially evaluated the site assuming the potential land use for the property would be similar to that of neighboring properties, which are primarily mixed use, residential and hotels, the Office of Planning said the W-2 zoning would not be applied at this site.
In the EA, the GSA clarified for potential bidders that they would have to go through a more intensive zoning process, working with the Office of Planning, the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and other key stakeholders to develop an appropriate use for the property.
The winning bidder must pursue a planned unit development (PUD) process.
According to the Office of Planning a PUD is: "a special multi-purpose project that permits 'flexibility of development and other incentives, such as increased building height and density; provided, that the project offers a commendable number or quality of public benefits and that it protects and advances the public health, safety, welfare, and convenience' in a manner consistent with the DC Comprehensive Plan."
This process would likely limit the overall development of the site. Community members, including Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans, have already been working behind the scenes to ensure that the project does not move forward in a way that is not to their liking.
Immediate neighbors would like to limit any future development to the existing building footprint and Friends of the Georgetown Waterfront Park hope the remaining acreage could be green space with public access.
At an October meeting for developers interested in the site David Maloney, the D.C. State Historic Preservation officer, advised attendees that Georgetown residents would be stakeholders in any future site development.
"Georgetown, as you may know, has a very active public constituency," said Maloney.
Still there are several developers interested in the site. Familiar names like EastBanc, Inc, MRP Realty and the Four Seasons have expressed interest in one way or another. Others from around the country may also try their luck in the next 30 days at owning a piece of Georgetown.