Republicans Push Heating Plant to Roof
It sits there at 29th and K Streets, overlooking the Whitehurst Freeway, a 1940s reminder of when Georgetown had a busy, smelly, industrial waterfront. It’s the West Heating Plant that until 10 years ago helped heat and fuel nearby federal buildings.
Although now virtually abandoned, on Tuesday morning it was the site of an unusual off-Capitol Hill congressional hearing at which the Republican leaders of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, led by Reps. John Mica of Florida and Jeff Denham of California, spent the better part of two hours taking the General Services Administration to task, with sarcasm, insult and derision, for not moving fast enough to dispose of this valuable piece of real estate.
Citing what they said was a list of 14,000 excess properties, Mica and Denham threatened continuous hearings if GSA didn’t move faster. “We’re going across the nation, we going to help you market these properties,” said Denhem, to the Flavio Peres, the official representing GSA’s Public Buildings Service. Peres held his ground: “I believe our office can [dispose of these properties] cost-efficiently.”
Mica also noted that he would have preferred Dan Tangherlini, the acting GSA Administrator, to be there for GSA.
But the real marketing came after the hearing. Mica and Denham led a group to the roof of the building and there, spread out for 3600, was a view like no other -- Georgetown, Rock Creek Parkway, the Potomac, Rosslyn and much of northwest Washington. Nearby, was the C&O Canal, the eastern ramps of the Whitehurst Freeway, Georgetown University, the historic Godey Lime Kilns, the Watergate.
In the distance, the spires of the Washington Cathedral, the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge and planes aiming for National Airport. Clearly, these views add immeasurably to the value of this property and are a unique marketing feature.
At least one local official in attendance at the hearing pointed out that it was well known that this property was going on the market. GSA has been “very aggressive,” said Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Bill Starrels, with developers already spending a “lot of money developing plans for the site” and presenting these plans to the public. If it was a secret, “this was one of the most poorly kept secrets I know of,” he added.