- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Washington Gas plans to sell its aging headquarters at 1100 H St. NW and move to more modern offices in the District while it overhauls its major operations center in Springfield.
The company, which provides natural gas to nearly 1 million customers in the region, expects to occupy new headquarters by the middle of next year. Sources close to the process said no site has been selected, but that the company is looking exclusively in the District.
The amount of space needed by Washington Gas is not clear. It occupies 70,000 square feet at its downtown headquarters, but is evaluating each of its departments to determine whether it needs more space or facility upgrades, spokesman Tim Sargeant said. About 300 employees work at the headquarters.
Mr. Sargeant said the company must move to attract and keep employees, and increase productivity. The current headquarters was built in 1942. The company performed an internal study last year that revealed that it was more sensible to relocate than to renovate the current building.
The big question, though, is whether Washington Gas can find at least 70,000 square by the end of the year, as it hopes. Real estate analysts said a search for that much top-tier office space in the District results in a small selection.
"There are not a whole lot of options for a tenant of that size," said Mary Petersen, director of research for Cassidy and Pinkard, a brokerage firm in the District.
Mrs. Petersen mentioned available space at 1800 M St and 800 North Capitol St. as options and said an office at 1625 I St. was a possibility if Washington Gas were willing to wait for the building's completion next year.
Washington Gas is working with Woodmark Commercial Services, a real estate firm in the District, to help find a new location. Woodmark Senior Vice President Roy Ayers, who is representing Washington Gas, declined to reveal potential locations, but said there was no shortage of options.
"I think we'd like to remain as close to the business area as we can, though nothing has been ruled out," Mr. Sargeant said.
The fate of the downtown headquarters is up in the air, too. Though it is in a prime location it sits on a corner across from the new D.C. Convention Center brokers said any buyer would have to spend heavily on renovations. Despite this, Woodmark officials said many groups have inquired about the space even though it won't officially hit the market for 30 days.
"There has been a tremendous amount of interest expressed," said J.B. Gurley, a senior vice president in charge of Woodmark's investment sales.
Washington Gas said major renovations on its 500,000-square-foot operations center in Springfield are scheduled to begin in the fall and will last three to five years. The renovations will affect about half the complex and are the first since Washington Gas built and moved into the facility in 1971. About 1,100 employees work at the operations center.
Washington Gas is a regulated subsidiary of WGL Holdings Inc., which employs about 2,200.

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