Metro’s board of directors on Thursday green-lighted agency officials to begin the process of selling the Jackson Graham Building in Northwest, which has served as its headquarters since 1974.
According to a proposal released before the weekly board meeting, the transit agency would save about $134.5 million over 20 years with the sale and subsequent acquisitions of regional offices in Maryland and Virginia.
The proposal would reduce the total office footprint for the new headquarters by 100,000 square feet. In addition, the agency would decrease ownership and leasing of buildings in the region from 10 to seven.
“The conclusions of the office consolidation strategy are that Metro should sell JGB and acquire new office space in each Washington, D.C., and surrounding Maryland and Virginia,” the proposal states. “Washington, D.C., would continue to serve as Metro’s headquarters location, which is centrally located for Metro’s stakeholders across the region.”
The headquarters, which hasn’t undergone any major renovations since it opened, aren’t up to current safety and accessibility standards. Nina Albert, managing director of real estate for Metro, said there are no sprinkler systems in the building.
During a press briefing after the meeting, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said the building has been grandfathered under older city codes and ordinances, but stressed the agency’s need to leave the building “as quick as we can.”
Wiedefeld said the new and smaller headquarters would be located near a transfer station, similar to the current headquarters’ proximity to Gallery Place Metro station.
The agency retained Jones Lang LaSalle, a commercial brokerage firm, to help with the sale of the property located near Capital One Arena.
Michael Goldman, who represents Maryland on the board and voted to abstain, criticized Albert for not looking outside the District.
“You should be looking for the best deal for [Metro],” Goldman said. “You eliminated your search for a headquarters [by searching] just in D.C.”
According to the documents, Metro officials wouldn’t put the Jackson Graham building on the market until the property is rezoned by the District’s Zoning Commission, which could happen as soon as this fall.
It’s unclear where the new headquarters would be or how many of the agency’s roughly 3,400 employees and consultants would be housed in the new building.
The board usually holds a second meeting in July, but won’t convene again until September. Any proposed transactions, sales and acquisitions of new or leased property would need board approval.
In other business, the board approved the elimination of the Grosvenor turnback that would increase by 15 trains per hour between the Shady Grove and White Flint stations in Montgomery County.
The service would cost $2.5 million annually, but the amount will be $1.5 million because the service wouldn’t be implemented until December.