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GSA Looks To Move 2,000-Person Agency From NoMa To Suitland, Cut Footprint In Half

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics headquarters at 2 Massachusetts Ave. NW
The Bureau of Labor Statistics headquarters at 2 Massachusetts Ave. NW

A major federal agency is planning to move nearly 2,000 employees out of the District and cut its office footprint almost in half.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has requested funding to relocate its headquarters from 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE to the Suitland Federal Center following its lease expiration in May 2022, according to a BLS budget document

The General Services Administration is planning to reconfigure other agencies at the federally owned Suitland complex to allow for the BLS to occupy 367K SF, according to a proposed GSA prospectus submitted Sept. 6. It is requesting $49M for renovations to the Suitland property to accomodate the move. 

The relocation would represent a 48% decrease from the agency's 710K SF footprint at 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE, the GSA said. The government's real estate arm says the space reduction will save roughly $19M in taxpayer money annually over the next 30 years. 

A survey of the bureau's 1,800 staffers found that 70% of them are likely to leave by 2022 because of the relocation, Bloomberg reported. The BLS, which falls under the Department of Labor, would join two Department of Commerce agencies, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau, at the federal complex near the Suitland Metro station. 

The Suitland Federal Center in Prince George's County
The Suitland Federal Center in Prince George's County

The Suitland Federal Center consists of roughly 2.6M SF of office buildings on a 226-acre campus in Prince George's County. The addition of over 1,000 BLS employees to the complex would be a win for the county, which is also welcoming over 3,000 Citizenship and Immigration Services employees into a new project at the Branch Avenue Metro station. 

The move would leave a major vacancy at 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE, a 950K SF office building owned by the federal government that also includes the National Postal Museum. The building, completed in 1914, previously housed D.C.'s main post office. 

The federal government brought on Hines to renovate the property in 1990, and it completed the project in 1992. Hines operated the building through a master lease with the government signed in 1992, property records show, but a Hines spokesperson said the company is no longer involved with the building.

The GSA prospectus said the BLS has a lease at 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE that expires in 2022, but it did not identify the landlord. The GSA didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. 

The building, which sits on the southern edge of the NoMa neighborhood directly across from Union Station, would appear to be in a prime location for another government agency or private sector organization to move in. But Cushman & Wakefield Vice Chairman Darian LeBlanc, a top GSA leasing broker, said the building's interior is not ideally suited for an office tenant.

"It was never fully designed from the ground up to be an office building," LeBlanc said. "It was more like a postal facility, so I'm not certain, given the historic nature of the building and the presence of the Postal Museum, whether or not it can truly ever be an efficient office building in the model that the federal government is looking for today."

CORRECTION, OCT. 28, 6:30 P.M. ET: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the amount of money GSA would save with the space reduction. This story has been updated.