House Republicans have long criticized the General Services Administration for insufficient speed in selling unneeded federal properties, and with the recent announcement of a successful auction to attract a buyer for the aging Georgetown Heating Plant, their barbs were tempered only partially.
“GSA is pleased to report that the Georgetown Heating Plant auction has closed with a high bid of $19.5 million,” spokesman Dan Cruz said Wednesday in a statement on the long-vacant property built during the Truman administration on what is now prestigious real estate. “If GSA accepts the bid, the agency will begin to work with the bidder on the next steps in the process. This disposal is another example of the agency’s ongoing commitment to getting excess federal property off the government's books and delivering savings.”
Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., who until recently chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and held a dramatic hearing inside the empty heating plant highlighting slow progress in excess property sales, told Government Executive on Thursday, "It’s nice to see that we have forced an agency like GSA to get a grip on their assets. We have stopped a valuable Georgetown federal property from sitting idle for over a decade and helped taxpayers and our Treasury as they are struggling financially. Heaven only knows, this property could actually pay taxes, develop into a site where people have jobs and help expand our economy.”
Mocking his own detractors, he added, “Mica sure does come up with some goofy ideas."
His partner in the campaign to pressure GSA, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., called the completed auction “a huge win for taxpayers to end the wasteful mismanagement and underutilization of valuable federal assets. This is another step in the right direction to decreasing the federal footprint and reducing our debt while creating jobs.”
Denham called once again for Congress to enact his bill, the Civilian Property Realignment Act, to restructure the process for selling assets. “There are thousands of properties like this that could be sold immediately,” he said.