|West Heating Plant. Photo courtesy GSA web|
How much revenue could it bring? Possibly millions. GSA can't comment on the value of "pending disposals," but developers see the site as one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in Georgetown.
But some say the sale process is taking place largely behind closed doors, including a top DC arts official. Thomas Luebke, FAIA, is Secretary of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), the federal body charged by Congress with protecting properties of historic value in the District. On September 5th, he wrote a letter to the GSA urging a more open discussion on the West Heating Plant's fate. DCMud obtained a copy of the letter on Wednesday.
|Copy of Letter from CFA to GSA, obtained by DCMud|
Luebke urges the GSA to hold an open discussion with a wide range of stakeholders about the future of the property. In his letter, he cites Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires federal agencies to determine the possible negative impacts of an action such as a sale, and what can be done to eliminate or mitigate those. That process, Luebke writes, normally involves open discussion.
"At this time I have not heard of any plans to proceed with this process [of open, public discussion] and hope that the GSA is committed to pursuing what would be expected for a property of this significance," Luebke writes. "While the sale of the property in the immediate term may yield a high sales price as a redevelopment project [...] it is most valuable in the long term precisely for its particular physical, spatial, and historic characteristics."
The building, the letter highlights, was designed in the Moderne style by local architect William Dewey Foster and is an example of federal government's investment in public infrastructure immediately following World War II.
Luebke, in the letter, urges the GSA to consider a use that would maintain the building's structural authenticity as a "massive masonry box-essentially open on the inside except for metal catwalks and platforms holding equipment." That structure, he writes, lends itself to myriad cultural uses, with the Tate modern museum in London being an example.
GSA says they're doing the required review. "GSA is currently engaged in that process," Dan Cruz, deputy press secretary for the GSA told DCMud.
|Letter from CFA to GSA on Sale of West Heating Plant|
On Thursday, City Councilmember Jack Evans will be meeting with the DC Office of Planning, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, and "leadership from the Georgetown neighborhood" to "continue the discussion" Huff wrote to DCMud. "It is not a public meeting."