Tuesday’s announcement that mega-developer Donald Trump is the preferred party to make a go of reviving the half-empty Old Post Office building in Washington may have stepped on the message of some in Congress who’ve long been pushing to accelerate the sale of unneeded federal properties.
Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., on Tuesday afternoon was celebrating House passage of his bill to create a BRAC-like civilian properties board. He put out a press release about a follow-up hearing set for Thursday to be held in that same Old Post Office annex with the title “One Year Later: Still Sitting on Our Assets.”
Just an hour later, the General Services Administration put out its release on Trump. Denham’s staff followed with another statement reading, " Selling and redeveloping this property to promote economic growth and job creation is something I encouraged GSA to do a full year ago. Once my bill, CPRA, is implemented, we will see this replicated across the nation in an expedited fashion…At our follow-up hearing on Thursday I expect to hear how much longer it will actually be before the taxpayers can stop pouring money into this property as well as other properties sitting vacant."
The GSA’s timing on the day of the House vote “was pure coincidence,” according to Adam Elkington, the agency’s deputy press secretary. Talks leading up to the deal were confined to a small group because of “procurement sensitivities.”
Since GSA put out a request for proposals on redeveloping the Old Post Office last March, Elkington added, the response from the private sector was tremendous, requiring more time to perform due diligence given the downtown building’s historic significance. Trump himself was told he had won the contract only Tuesday morning, after which followed briefings for GSA senior staff and lawmakers.