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House Subcommittee Withholds Lease Approval Pending GSA Data

A Congressional subcommittee is refusing to approve new leases for federal office space until it receives information requested on public buildings from the General Services Administration.

The GSA has yet to specify revenue generated by the properties it manages in the Washington area, in spite of repeated requests, Jeff Denham, a California Republican who heads the subcommittee for public buildings, said today. The subcommittee, part of the House transportation and infrastructure committee, also wants the agency to call for bids to remodel the Old Post Office Building in Washington, he said.

The committee has made reducing spending on vacant and underused buildings a priority. The federal government, the largest building owner in the U.S., rents 52 percent of the space used for its more than 1 million employees not involved in defense. The Old Post Office, half a mile (0.8 kilometer) from the White House, is one-third empty, and 15 percent of a building for Environmental Protection Agency workers is unused.

GSA Public Buildings Commissioner Robert Peck said he will be able to satisfy requests for revenue information in the coming days.

Congress passed legislation in 2008 to force the GSA to redevelop the Old Post Office, which was built in 1899 and has a clock tower that offers a view of the city.

Government Properties Income Trust (GOV), a Newton, Massachusetts-based real estate investment trust, JBG Companies, the biggest federal landlord in Washington, Highwoods Properties Inc. (HIW), a Raleigh, North Carolina-based firm, and Edison, New Jersey-based Mack-Cali Realty Corp. (CLI) are among companies that lease to government tenants.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nishad Majmudar in Washington at nmajmudar@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net; Cary O’Reilly at caryoreilly@bloomberg.net

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