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Biden Administration Taps Metro Official To Oversee Federal Real Estate Portfolio

WMATA Real Estate Director Nina Albert at Bisnow's Alexandria State of the Market

The official who leads the real estate efforts for D.C.'s Metro system has been tapped to oversee the federal government's nearly 400M SF real estate portfolio.

The General Services Administration announced Tuesday it named Nina Albert as the commissioner of its Public Buildings Service, the role that leads the agency's real estate functions. 

Albert previously served as vice president of real estate and parking for WMATA, helping the transit agency launch development partnerships for its underutilized land next to Metro stations. This strategy has led to major developments at Metro stations including New Carrollton and Grosvenor-Strathmore in Maryland and West Falls Church in Virginia, with several more envisioned in the coming years. 

Albert told Bisnow that Tuesday is her first day at the GSA, and she is excited to begin the new role.

“It is quite an honor to be appointed as the commissioner of the Public Buildings Service," Albert said. "For me and also for this administration, clearly we’re going to be looking at how best to manage facilities and real estate given a post-Covid re-entry, and I want to make sure I’m leading the Public Buildings Service so that we're best serving our customers and the communities that the buildings are in.” 

Before joining WMATA in 2016, Albert held roles with Sagamore Development Co., Walmart, the D.C. Department of the Environment and D.C.'s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, according to her LinkedIn page. She also served as first lieutenant and company signal officer for the U.S. Army Signal Corps. 

She will now oversee the owned and leased real estate portfolio of the U.S. government, spanning 376M SF across 9,600 buildings. Previous PBS Commissioner Dan Mathews, who spoke to Bisnow in January about his accomplishments and his advice for his successor, took a job with WeWork in May, according to his LinkedIn page and first reported by the Washington Business Journal

The PBS commissioner role doesn't require Senate confirmation. The Senate last month confirmed President Joe Biden's pick for GSA administrator, Robin Carnahan, who previously served as Missouri's secretary of state and led a technology division for the GSA. The administrator also oversees the Federal Acquisition Service, which procures goods and services for the government, in addition to the PBS.

"Nina’s impressive track record of leadership in real estate, sustainability, and economic revitalization will serve as an invaluable asset to GSA,” Carnahan said in a release. “I look forward to working with her to deliver value for partner federal agencies and for taxpayers.”

The GSA last month appointed Andrea M. O'Neal to the newly created role of senior adviser to the administrator on equity. The agency also submitted its proposed $10.9B budget to Congress last month, requesting funding that would help advance several major projects in the D.C. area, including a new building on the Department of Homeland Security headquarters campus at St. Elizabeths West. 

One of the most high-profile decisions Albert will help make is how to approach the plans for a new FBI headquarters. The Trump administration in 2017 scrapped the previous search that had been narrowed down to three sites in the D.C. suburbs, and it later proposed a demolition-and-rebuild project on Pennsylvania Avenue, but that plan never advanced through Congress. 

The federal government will also continue to navigate its strategy for how to balance remote work and in-office work after the pandemic led many agencies to work from home. The administration last month removed the 25% occupancy restriction for federal offices, and it told agencies they can offer employees flexible schedules and remote work, The Washington Post reported

UPDATE, JULY 6, 2:25 P.M. ET: This story has been updated with new comments from Albert.