Why Isn’t Anyone Bidding on the Georgetown Heating Plant?

by Shilpi Paul

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The Georgetown Heating Plant. Courtesy of GSA.

Ever since UrbanTurf heard the news that Georgetown’s West Heating Plant, a former plant located on a prime piece of real estate at 29th and K Street NW, would hit the auction block, we’ve been eager to see who would buy it and what they would turn it into. An informational meeting in October attracted a roomful of seemingly interested developers.

The General Services Administration, which owns the plant, decided to find a buyer through an online auction process, giving the highest bidder the rights to develop the property, most likely through a Planned Unit Development (PUD) process involving community meetings and approvals from various agencies. They indicated that they are open to residential and commercial uses.

Well, the auction launched about a week ago, and we’ve been following the activity closely. However, there has been no activity: exactly zero bids have been placed on the site so far. (You can find the auction through this site).

Is the delayed activity some kind of negotiating strategy?

Georgetown Metropolitan thinks the limitations placed on developing the property may be deterring bidders.

From GM:

The problem is that the winning bidder almost certainly will not be permitted to knock the building down. While most developers would love to keep the sweeping views the unusually tall building will provide, the fact is that the costs to retrofit the building will be so high that they will quickly outstrip the value of that view.

Added to the uncertainty is the fact that the staff of the CFA [Commission on Fine Arts] have given strong indications that they will not look favorably on requests to alter the window openings.

Additionally, the developer will have to seek approval from the Commission on Fine Arts on their design and keep a significant amount of green space, abiding by the comprehensive plan for the area. According to Georgetown Metropolitan, the CFA staff is hoping that a developer interested in creating a non-residential project, like a movie theater, can be found.

We’ll continue to keep tabs on the auction as it goes on for just under another month. For anyone interested, bidders can jump in with a $500,000 deposit check.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/why_isnt_anyone_bidding_on_the_georgetown_heating_plant/6533

4 Comments

  1. cmf said at 11:45 am on Sunday January 27, 2013:

    This reminds me of Tate Modern in London - a power plant turned into a museum/art space - quite effectively. With all the buzz around DC, wonder if any of the NY museums would be interested in opening a branch here. Great location, and Georgetown could use something beyond small shops and cafes.

  1. Jim said at 12:59 pm on Sunday January 27, 2013:

    You cant make money on a museum in DC when the better museums are free.

  1. John P. Kyle said at 6:28 pm on Sunday January 27, 2013:

    “How could anyone bid on the Georgetown Heating Plant?” would have made a better headline for this story.  The entitlement indefinity makes valuation impossible. 
    JPK

  1. Al said at 10:33 pm on Thursday February 14, 2013:

    Looks like there are now two bids in; top bid is $700K.  At that price, they can make something work.

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