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Red Cross to sell E Street building for $315 million


Updated: March 2, 2017 at 2:24 a.m.

The U.S. State Department will be taking over the American Red Cross building on 20th and E streets, across the street from the Elliott School of International Affairs.

The majority of the Red Cross employees at the national headquarters have been transitioned to other office buildings, Red Cross spokeswoman Mindy Mizell said in an email Wednesday. The last of the staff were meant to move out by December, but most of the staff had been moved in phases over the past year.

Mizell said employees transferred to the Red Cross Square campus on 18th and D streets, the Red Cross’s Fairfax, Va., location or now work electronically.

“We opted for a strategy centered around transparency with our staff, and it seemed effective, with minimal bumps along the way,” she said.

The Red Cross owns the building and leases the land from the federal government. To make room for the expanding State Department and other government offices, Red Cross submitted proposals to sell the property at 2025 E Street to the General Services Administration for $315 million, according to documents from the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works adopted in May.

Up until last year, the GSA leased nine floors of building to the State Department. The department will contribute about half of the price for the total acquisition, or about $155.5 million.

The State Department is “facing a series of challenges as a result of recent world events” and needs more space in addition to the Main State Building, the senate document states. Buying the Red Cross building would save the State Department about $12 million in annual rent fees for the building, the documents show.

Mizell said federal officials approached the Red Cross about the sale in 2014. Selling the building near campus will generate revenue for the Red Cross to pay pensions and put towards long-term needs like supporting humanitarian efforts, she said.

“We agreed to pursue the sale as part of our ongoing commitment to looking at every possible alternative to cutting costs without harming our humanitarian mission,” Mizell said.

Before the Red Cross could sell the building, they needed permission to remove the red cross symbol because of an agreement for protected symbols at the Geneva Convention and the neutrality provisions required by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Marcel Acosta, the executive director of NCPC, approved the applications on Dec. 29.

The 12-story office building features 808,000 square feet and includes 400 parking spaces on the below-ground levels.

The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission passed a resolution last week in response to the sale, asking the GSA to maintain the public park across the street from the building.

Patrick Kennedy, the chairman of the ANC, said at the ANC meeting that in the transition, the Red Cross’ community services like cleaning the park needed to be cleared up.

“I think there is community interest in maintaining, from the federal government as a landlord at least, some of the responsibilities that were supposed to have devolved on the Red Cross,” he said.

Barbara Kahlow, a West End Citizens Association member, said the Red Cross should not be allowed to leave the park across the street.

“I think the ANC should say, ‘Hey wait a second. A deal is a deal, and what’s happening to this? You need to continue to maintain the property,’” she said.

Marisa Sinatra contributing reporting.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
Due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly reported in a headline that the Red Cross building will be sold for $800 million. The price is $315 million. We regret this error.

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