GSA unlocks value from underutilized warehouse
49 L Street SE was an aging, underutilized 32,000-square-foot warehouse on a .68-acre parcel. Recognizing the property was not delivering its potential value, GSA needed to determine a new future for it.
49 L Street SE, Washington DC
32,000 square foot warehouse on a .68 -acre parcel
$31 million in sales proceeds, in excess of the $19.2 million assessment
As one of the largest federal government landlords, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is constantly looking to improve the efficiency of its real estate portfolio to conserve taxpayer resources. As part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to consolidate and dispose of underutilized properties, GSA’s real estate team began to scrutinize its 49 L Street SE warehouse property in Washington DC.
Located less than a half-mile from the Washington Nationals baseball park on the Anacostia River, 49 L Street SE was an aging, underutilized 32,000-square-foot warehouse on a .68-acre parcel. It needed significant repairs—but was used only occasionally as a storage facility for presidential inaugurations and other special events.
Since the baseball park opened in 2008, area real estate values have more than rebounded from the global financial recession. The Near Southeast submarket has become one of Washington’s fastest-growing neighborhoods, with significant new office, retail and residential developments.
Recognizing that 49 L Street SE was not delivering its potential value, GSA needed to determine a new future for the property. All options were on the table—sell the property, execute a sale/leaseback, create a public-private partnership to redevelop it, or identify a new federal government purpose that would optimize use of the site.
Given the rapid rise of land values in the Near Southeast submarket, GSA determined that the best way to improve the performance of its portfolio was to dispose of 49 L Street SE. That decision led to the next challenge: maximizing the sale proceeds from GSA’s standard online auction process.
Getting the word out to the marketplace was crucial. The team implemented a comprehensive marketing program, leveraging JLL’s industry contacts and reputation along with multiple strategies and tactics. Email blasts reached 5,000 qualified contacts, while print and online advertisements in key media extended the marketing reach.
In addition, GSA hosted six days of site tours, attended by more than 60 interested parties. Project team members coordinated tour logistics, such as liability waivers, and were on hand to field questions about the site and the auction process.
GSA also hosted an Industry Day event for 60-plus registered commercial real estate professionals. Speakers from GSA, the Washington DC Office of Planning and the Capital Riverfront Business Improvement District shared details about the auction system, zoning considerations, and the local market potential.
Backed by thoughtful analysis and strategic marketing, the online auction also was well-timed to maximize the sales proceeds. Market values were rising, creating opportunity for potential buyers.
As a result, the auction attracted 14 registered bidders—each of whom placed a $1M deposit to be able to bid for the property. Five bidders exceeded the $19.2 million assessment. Ultimately, GSA received $31 million for the property, delivering approximately 60% additional value to the government.
Sales proceeds in hand, GSA was able to both reduce the size of its portfolio and remove a costly, underutilized property from its books.
So now what’s next for GSA? The agency is looking ahead to other opportunities to generate value and optimize its portfolio, one property at a time.