WMATA selects new D.C. headquarters in money-saving strategy

Written by Kyra Senese, managing editor
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Conceptual drawing courtesy of WMATA

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has announced the selection of L’Enfant Plaza as the location for its new headquarters building.

This week, WMATA will start a process to seek final approval to purchase 300 7th Street SW—a vacant office structure—as the replacement for its current headquarters at the Jackson Graham Building, officials said.

WMATA said the selection of its new D.C. headquarters is the first step in an office consolidation strategy that it expects to save the transit authority about $130 million throughout the next two decades.

Formerly known as the Reporter’s Building, the new site will be reduced to its structural concrete and renovated to meet modern workplace standards. WMATA said it plans to improve the building’s exterior and potentially add three floors to create space that could be leased to generate additional revenue.

WMATA is also downsizing from 10 office buildings throughout the region to seven. The selection of the D.C. building is expected to inform officials on the process for other selection decisions in Maryland and Virginia, where multiple viable sites are being considered. The office consolidation effort was approved by the WMATA Board in June.

WMATA’s current D.C. headquarters, the Jackson Graham Building or JGB, was built in 1974 and does not meet current accessibility requirements or modern fire/life-safety standards, despite being the daytime home for more than 1,300 employees and contractors, the transit authority explained.

WMATA had determined that moving from JGB to other sites would be significantly less costly than attempting to renovate the existing building. WMATA also said it could generate tens of millions of dollars by redeveloping the property under a long-term ground lease, given its location on a 43,000 square-foot parcel in D.C.’s Gallery Place neighborhood, directly across from the Capital One Arena and the National Building Museum.

“This is the right move for all the right reasons, most immediately the safety of more than a thousand people who occupy JGB each day,” said WMATA GM/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “Beyond that, moving our headquarters to L’Enfant Plaza will make us even more accessible to our customers, create a modern and vibrant office space that allows us to attract and retain top-flight talent, and generate revenue to support transit service.”

WMATA aims to put the JGB site on the market in spring 2019.

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