D.C. Council panel urges agency to vacate valuable U Street HQ
A D.C. Council committee is urging a District agency to leave its valuable headquarters at the gateway to the U Street corridor.
The Housing Finance Agency headquarters at 815 Florida Ave. NW, owned by an affiliate of the agency, sits in the midst of a current and future building boom, whether it’s the JBG Cos.’ Atlantic Plumbing redevelopment, the Whole Foods-anchored 965 Florida Ave. NW from MRP Realty and the Ellis Development Group, Howard University’s 300-unit mixed-use project at Barry Place and Sherman Avenue, or the whole of U Street.
Given that, maybe it’s time for the HFA to move on, the council’s Committee on Housing and Community Development writes in its fiscal year 2016 budget report, scheduled to be ratified Wednesday afternoon.
“The Committee recommends the agency consider whether its current headquarters location at the intersection of 8th and U Street, NW is the highest and best use of that property, or whether there might be a time in the near future when relocation to another location is financially beneficial for the agency, and for the economic development of the U Street corridor,” the committee report states.
Maria K. Day-Marshall, the HFA’s interim executive director, said a possible move is on the agency’s radar.
“We have had discussions about what the best use of this building would be,” Day-Marshall said. “We’ve retained a real estate services consultant to look at that issue. We have not received a report as of yet.”
If the HFA were to move, it would follow in the footsteps of the D.C. Housing Authority, which is proceeding with a relocation and redevelopment of its 2.5-acre North Capitol Street headquarters site. In November, DCHA selected MRP and CSG Urban Partners to redevelop 1133 North Capitol as mixed-use, in a deal that will also require the team to construct a new, 80,000-square-foot HQ building for the agency.
The District has also pondered the redevelopment of the Reeves Center at 14th and U, going so far as to offer the building to Akridge as part of the D.C. United stadium deal, until the council nixed the arrangement.
The current assessed value of the HFA site is $16.6 million — $4.6 million in the land and $12 million in the building. But given the hot real estate market along U Street, it may be worth much more to the right developer. HFA financed the lease/purchase of the building in 1998 through the issuance of tax-exempt bonds, and currently pays $279,000 in annual rent to its affiliate, the DC Building Finance Corp.
“I’m sure it’s a very valuable piece of property,” Day-Marshall said. “The agency was moved into this building before anyone ever thought about the renaissance on U Street, or right at the beginning."
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