Old Post Office Make-Over Goes to the Floor (5/22/08)
Old Post Office Make-Over Goes to the Floor
May 22, 2008
Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton's (D-DC) Old Post Office Development Act was passed out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today, ending more than 10 years of effort to get the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Office of Management and Budget to agree to make the nearly vacant iconic treasure at 11th and Pennsylvania Avenue usable, in keeping with its historic status. Norton introduced HR 5001, only after 10 years of pressing for a redevelopment effort much like the one GSA used for the Tariff building, now converted into the Hotel Monaco, that is returning revenue to both the federal and city governments. Norton is pressing for early consideration of the bill passed today on the floor on the noncontroversial suspension calendar.
"This building stands grandly in the heart of our nation's capital, near the White House on America's Main Street, no less" Norton said, "but inside, the Old Post Office (OPO) is a virtual monument to the millions of dollars wasted by the government in repeated, failed use efforts. In 2007 GSA shelled out $11.9 million in expenses to keep the OPO up and running but got only $5.4 million in rental payments, for a loss of $1.6 million. Multiply this figure over the many decades during which the government has invested millions of dollars in similar losses on this building. Then add millions more wasted in jerry-built renovations and additions that eventually proved useless, and it is hard to fathom how the government tolerated thus losing proposition for so long."
GSA issued a request for expressions of interest in 2004 after Norton pressed for action following a killing outside the OPO during a George Washington University Student rental event. Despite apparently receiving many proposals, however the matter stalled, leading Norton to take the unusual step of introducing today's bill to compel action that the GSA should have taken administratively.