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

by Shilpi Paul

Why Isn't Anyone Bidding on the Georgetown Heating Plant?: Figure 1
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 https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/why_isnt_anyone_bidding_on_the_georgetown_heating_plant/6533


  1. cmf said at 4:45 pm 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 5:59 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 11:28 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 3:33 am on Friday February 15, 2013:
    Looks like there are now two bids in; top bid is $700K. At that price, they can make something work.

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »