Construction on WMATA headquarter’s new Southwest D.C. home is officially underway.
The building company Gilbane is carrying out construction, which started mid-November and is currently focused on internal demolition, according to two Gilbane workers at the scene.
After announcing the plan for acquisition over a year ago, WMATA representative Nina Albert introduced the incoming development during a Southwest Neighborhood Assembly meeting in late October.
The new location will be 300 7th Street SW, and is being developed by Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners.
The move, according to a WMATA press release, will solve the current headquarters’ outdated safety conditions and save millions of dollars.
“The selection of Metro’s new DC headquarters is the first major step in a broader office consolidation strategy that will save the transit authority $130 million over the next 20 years,” Metro said in the press release.
Metro will downsize from the three buildings they currently own — a process that will largely contribute to the savings.
But the move also means a smaller headquarters, as employees relocate from the current building at 270,000 square feet to the new building with 200,000 square feet.
The move has Southwest resident Emily Crowe nervous for what more development would mean for residents. Especially, Crowe notes, following the boom of the Southwest waterfront development in recent years.
“That is definitely going to cause some problems. There’s already so much construction that I don’t really like the thought of any more. It’s already a busy, crowded part of town and this will not help with that,” Crowe said.
Currently, the WMATA headquarters is located on 5th Street in Chinatown, and is home to over 1,000 employees. The move would mean a redirection of those thousand employees commuting into Southwest.
Efforts to relocate were solidified in April when WMATA announced it had officially put the Chinatown office space on the market.
The sale, according to WMATA, is also beneficial to the District’s residents because the redevelopment would be under a lease that allows Metro to retain ownership.
“Any development would have the potential to generate sustained revenue for Metro to support bus and rail operations, help keep fares affordable, and contribute to the transit agency’s long-term financial stability,” Metro said in their press release.
The convenient location and proximity to Capital One Arena makes grabs for the space more competitive, according to WMATA, and the square feet opens the opportunity for a mixed-use development or hotel.
Although WMATA will relocate the existing headquarters into an existing office space, construction comes from a renovation that plans to “re-skin” the exterior and potentially add up to three floors to the building.
Metro GM/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld is quoted in a press release speaking on the Southwest location’s development.
“Moving our headquarters to L’Enfant Plaza will make us even more accessible to our customers, create a modern and vibrant office space that allows us to attract and retain top-flight talent, and generate revenue to support transit service,” Wiedefeld said.