Plans change for finding a new home for the Labor Department

The General Services Administration decided exchanging the Labor Department headquarters for a new building or long-term office space is not feasible.

After putting out a solicitation in December, GSA announced April 5 that it had canceled the request for proposals and plans to head in a different direction.

“After reviewing the preliminary phases of the Frances Perkins Building (FPB) project, GSA determined that the exchange mechanism was not the optimal means to maximize the government’s return on the FPB, which is located at 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC,” GSA said in a statement. “GSA remains committed to creating a modern work environment for DoL employees and reducing taxpayer costs for building operations.”

GSA announced in December 2015 it was exploring options to modernize Labor’s building. A year later, GSA started environmental, transportation and historic preservation studies on three sites around the Washington region.

Labor’s headquarters is more than 40 years old and is in need of costly infrastructure upgrades, to include modern heating, electrical, plumbing and elevator systems.

At the same time, GSA issued a solicitation to the owners of those three sites to qualify to bid on the project.

“GSA will stop work in connection with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Historical Preservation Act (NHPA) compliance for the exchange action, while continuing to take steps to gather information in cooperation with DoL that can be applied to future decisions on the FPB,” GSA stated on Wednesday.

Labor’s headquarters is more than 40 years old and is in need of costly infrastructure upgrades, to include modern heating, electrical, plumbing and elevator systems, GSA says.

GSA said in December that Labor’s new headquarters needs to be about 12 acres in size and can accommodate a building with about 850,000-to-1.4 million rentable square feet.

Brian Turmail, the senior executive director for public affairs for the Associated General Contractors of America, said it looks like the new administration is seeking a different approach.

“Beyond that, we are working to better understand what this decision means and how the administration would prefer to handle needed upgrades to our aging inventory of federal buildings,” he said.

GSA did not say what the next steps were or what other options it was considering for the Labor Department.

The decision to exchange older buildings downtown for newer ones in the Washington metro region is part of a broad and creative effort to reinvigorate the government’s efforts to dispose of real property.

GSA still is considering a trade for the FBI’s Hoover building in Washington.

The agency has struggled with the exchange concept, canceling the solicitation as well for the Federal Triangle South complex in February 2016.

As the government’s landlord, GSA owns or leases more than 354 million square feet of office space throughout 9,600 buildings in 2,200 communities across the U.S.