- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 10, 2004

The U.S. Government Printing Office said yesterday it wants to move its headquarters to a smaller, more modern facility in the Washington area.

It hopes to pay for the move with revenue raised from redeveloping its current facility.

The GPO said that its 1.5 million-square-foot headquarters at 732 North Capitol St. NW are too large for its work force and too expensive to maintain. The GPO is seeking legal advice on how to convert the facility — four buildings clustered together — into offices, retail space or apartments, and use the money from the sale of the property to pay for new headquarters.

“We’re looking for someone other than the taxpayer to pay for it,” said Bruce James, the public printer of the United States and head of the GPO.

The GPO is looking for a building less than half the size of its current facility, preferably on federally owned land in the District. Mr. James said the GPO does not have any specific sites in mind.

The GPO’s current headquarters are capable of housing more than 8,500 employees, but its work force has shrunk in recent years because of technological advancements.

Mr. James said that over the next five years, the office will spend about $180 million more on building maintenance than it would if it were housed in a newer, appropriately sized facility. He said about $35 million, or 12 percent, of the GPO’s overall costs go to building-related expenses such as upkeep, repairs and security.

Those costs are mostly passed on to customers, who pay the GPO for printing, Web hosting and documents about government activities.

“What we’d like to do is become more flexible and do everything more efficiently,” Mr. James said.

He said he was confident that a developer would be willing to move in and refurbish the North Capitol Street location, and said it could easily be converted into office space or apartments. Located just two blocks from Union Station, a transformation of the 10-acre site would fit in with other redevelopment plans in the area, he said.

If the GPO’s headquarters are redeveloped into commercial space, the District would likely receive additional tax revenue. As a government agency, the GPO is not required to pay city property taxes.


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