Turning Lemons into Lemonade: Doing Real Estate Business with the Federal Government in These Challenging Economic Times


The Federal Government is one of the largest real estate players in the United States, owning or leasing a huge portfolio of office buildings and other real estate assets across the country. The Public Building Service (“PBS”), a major division of the General Services Administration (“GSA”), is specifically tasked with providing workplaces for over 1.1 million Federal employees, as well as with the development, leasing and disposition of Federal property. The sheer size of PBS’s real estate needs and holdings means that there are very significant opportunities for the private sector to do business with it. Moreover, the economic and political climate existing during the past few years has resulted in dramatically increased expectations that PBS develop creative solutions to satisfy its real estate goals, with the result that the private sector is being presented with exciting new and diverse opportunities to do business with PBS.

Lemons: The Challenges Facing PBS -

PBS owns or leases approximately 9,500 real estate assets comprising about 375 million square feet of workspace for Federal employees. Beyond the everyday demands of managing such a substantial portfolio, PBS recently has been facing numerous special challenges, including:

1. An Aging Inventory with Significant Capital Needs. The average age of GSA-owned buildings is 47 years and GSA has identified a backlog of over $4 billion in reinvestment needs to repair the aging infrastructure and to reconfigure or replace the Government’s existing properties with more modern and efficient buildings.

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