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GSA Releases West Heating Plant Environmental Asessment

Comments on the sale of the large federal property are due August 29.

The General Services Administration (GSA) released an environmental assessment (EA) of the West Heating Plant sale, finding that a new development that would potentially include 181 new residential units and as much as 181,210 square feet of commercial and retail space would generally have minor or moderate impacts in both the long-term and short-term on the surrounding community. 

The West Heating Plant is a surplus federally-owned property at 29th and K Streets NW adjacent to Rock Creek Park and the C&O Canal. GSA plans to sell the property in an online auction this fall.

Federal agencies are required to evaluate the potential impacts such a sale may have on the human environment.

Currently, , meaning there is no prescribed preferred use for the site, such as residential, commercial, etc. But in its evaluation of the sale of the site, the GSA assumed that a potential future development would be , which allows a mixed-use development.

"GSA identified a reasonably foreseeable development scenario that could occur subsequent to implementation of the proposed action," according to the EA.

The so-called worst-case scenario for the future development of the site when it is sold might include:

"The after-disposal land use is assumed to consist of 36,600 SF of a restaurant using two floors from the existing building (smaller top floor and bottom floor) and the remainder of the non-residential use divided evenly between office and specialty retail uses. Condos/ townhouses are assumed to use the other 50 percent of the existing building (71,800 SF), plus an additional 109,410 SF on the remainder of the site. This would break down into 72,305 SF of general office, 72,305 SF of specialty retail, and 181 dwelling units of residential condos or townhouses."

GSA determined that the sale of the property and the potential of such a development would have impacts in both the short and long-term on a variety of factors of import to the surrounding community. A few of the impacts include:

  • TRAFFIC: "Negligible to moderate long-term, indirect impacts to area intersections, primarily during peak hours, including Saturday peak hours. Intersections that are already failing would incur additional seconds of delay."
  • NOISE: "There would be minor to moderate, temporary indirect impacts from the potential future redevelopment of the parcel. Indirect noise impacts would primarily be due to construction activities associated with redevelopment." "Indirect, long-term noise impacts could also be introduced through the establishment of development types that are not currently present on the parcel, such as a residence or retail. ... However, the noise levels would most likely be minor and would not change the overall ambient noise level near the project area."
  • HISTORIC DISTRICT: "Minor Adverse Long-Term Impact and (due to construction) a minor adverse short-term impact on the Georgetown Historic District and National Historic Landmark."
  • POTOMAC RIVER AND ROCK CREEK: "Negligible incremental effect to the overall cumulative effect given the small size of the project area when compared to the larger Potomac River Basin and Rock Creek Watershed"

To learn more about the GSA's evaluation and findings, you can read the Draft EA online. Copies of the EA are also available at the Georgetown Public Library (3260 R St., NW).

Comments on the EA must be made by Aug. 29 and sent via email or mail to:

U.S. General Services Administration, Public Buildings Service
Attention: Ms. Suzanne Hill, NEPA Program Lead
301 7th Street, SW, Room 4004
Washington, DC 20407
Suzanne.Hill@gsa.gov

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