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Bidders Fight for West Heating Plant in Final Hours

Anonymous bidders are battling over the West Heating Plant in Georgetown.

In the few final hours of bidding in the West Heating Plant auction, four anonymous bidders drove the bid price from a measley $501,000 to more than $5.2 million as of 4 p.m. Tuesday.

GSA determined that the West Heating Plant site, a 2-acre lot with a 20,000 s.f. building, was excess property. After going through a disposal process, which included opportunities for community feedback, GSA approved an eBay-style auction so the property at 29th and K Streets, NW would go to the highest bidder.

The General Services Administration (GSA) opened the auction Jan. 18, the first bid arrived Feb. 14 and the soft close was 5 p.m. Tuesday.

On Tuesday alone there were 13 bids, each increasing by at least the minimum increment of $200,000.

The soft close does not necessarily mean the close of the auction entirely. According to Mafara Hobson, press secretary for the GSA, the auction does not end until "24 hours of inactivity after the soft closing." So until the bidders stop competing, the auction continues.

After 24 hours without any new bids, the auction will close and GSA will proceed to award the property to the highest bidder and will release the name of the winning bidder once the auction closes.

While the bidders are anonymous, an industry meeting brought out some 100 firms interested in the West Heating Plant.

The four currrent bidders might be among a GSA-provided list of just a few of the developers who signed in at the industry meeting:

1)      EastBanc

2)      Hines

3)      Akridge

4)      Property Group Partners

5)      MRP Realty

6)      Toll Brothers

7)      Clark Realty

8)      Level 2 Development

9)      Metropolitan Partnership

10)   Carr Hospitality

11)   Gables Residential

12)   Roadside Development

Patch asked Hobson if she could provide any similar auctions for comparison with the going price on the Georgetown site.

Though Hobson said "there is nothing really comparable" to the West Heating Plant, she provided Patch with a list of three former Coast Guard properties in Montgomery County, Md. that GSA auctioned in 2011.

Each property was a former Coast Guard residence:

  • A three-bedroom, two-story brick front home at 6601 Kennedy Drive in Bethesda, Md sold in 2011 for $1.7 million. The starting bid had been $1.5 million.
  • A five-bedroom Rockville home (8203 Snug Hill Ln, Rockville, Md.) sold for $845,000 in 2011 after a starting bid of $775,000.
  • A custom-built, three-bedroom, Bethesda home (5324 Goldsboro Rd, Bethesda, Md.) sold for $ 1.4 million, after a starting bid of $1 million.

Once a private entity takes over ownership of the property, the long process of developing the site can begin.

The winning bidder must follow a planned unit development (PUD) process through the Office of Planning to develop the property. The PUD process will allow for extensive community input.  

Community members, including Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans, have already been working behind the scenes to make sure their vision for the property is taken into consideration by its future owner. 

Immediate neighbors would like to limit any future development to the existing building footprint and the Friends of the Georgetown Waterfront Park hope the remaining acreage could be green space with public access.

Read more:

  • Bids Roll in for West Heating Plant
  • West Heating Plant Auction Begins Today
  • NPS Seeks Conservation Easement for Portion of West Heating Plant Site
Walter Grosyk February 20, 2013 at 01:11 PM
Several years ago GSA auctioned off an office building in Bethesda, and was harshly criticized by Congress for getting too little money ($12.5 million) for the property. GSA has an excess property called the Cotton Annex, located near the Central Heating Plant (off of independence Avenue), which the Congressional Budget Office valued at $150 million. The Cotton Annex is a smaller building than the West Heating Plant, and sits on less land. The current bid amounts for the West Heating Plant are much lower than for the Bethesda building, and the appraised value of the Cotton Annex.
Shaun Courtney February 20, 2013 at 03:36 PM
Thanks for your input, Walter. The bidding is up to $5.6 million, but that is certainly less than the numbers you proffered. -Shaun

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