After 50-plus years, GSA leaving Auburn

Northwest/Arctic Regional headquarters moving to Tacoma

The U.S. General Services Administration is moving its Auburn-based Region 10 headquarters to Tacoma in the summer of 2021. COURTESY PHOTO

The U.S. General Services Administration is moving its Auburn-based Region 10 headquarters to Tacoma in the summer of 2021. COURTESY PHOTO

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) will take its Auburn-based Region 10 headquarters to Tacoma in the summer of 2021.

The Northwest/Arctic Region headquarters announced last week it would move its operations to the Columbia Bank Center, 1301 A St. in Tacoma. The current GSA Regional Office Building has been in the Auburn Federal Complex on 15th Street Southwest ever since it was built in 1964.

“Our mission is providing effective workplace solutions for the federal government, including our own agency,” said Chaun Benjamin, acting regional administrator. “This move allows us to bring savings to the American taxpayers and provide our team with the right space to continue meeting our mission.”

Chad Hutson, Region 10 public affairs officer with GSA’s Office of Strategic Communication, said approximately 320 GSA staff will make the move.

Hutson said GSA selected the new site based on the needs of the area, primarily on the south end of Puget Sound, which encompasses Auburn and Tacoma among other communities.

The government has not yet determined exact costs associated with the move.

“We don’t have hard numbers for cost savings through the move,” Hutson said.

The campus is home not only to GSA’s Northwest/Arctic Region Regional Office Building but also offices of the Department of Homeland Security – Federal Protective Service (FPS) and a Social Security Administration Telework Center.

The 129-acre complex is a mix of offices, eight warehouses and an abandoned water tower. The U.S. Army built six of the warehouses in 1944 to support the war effort.

By 2015, having concluded that the campus was no longer meeting the needs of the regional federal government, the GSA explored potential strategies that could convey all or a portion of the complex out of federal ownership in exchange for replacement offices, renovation or new construction services to upgrade existing office space on a retained portion of the campus.

In June of that year, the GSA issued a request for information (RFI) seeking ideas from parties with the potential for acquiring the Auburn Federal Complex.

GSA said it would use whatever information it got back for planning purposes and to make strategic decisions regarding the future use of the property.

The government has not shared what it learned from the RFI.

“I don’t think we really found out anything about what they got, any solicitations or ideas presented to them by developers, anything like that,” said Jeff Tate, director of Community Development for the city of Auburn. “That would have made its way to me as well.”

Did the city of Auburn have any suggestions for the future use of the property?

“Only like from a 30,000-foot level,” Tate said. “That’s why we changed the zoning on the property from industrial to commercial because we knew they were going to go through the process of disposing of the property. So, before they did that, we wanted to make it wasn’t zoned light manufacturing, because we didn’t want to see warehousing and distribution on the property.

“We wanted to see something that is more of a mix,” Tate continued. “Looking at the property, it’s probably hard to visualize it as a vibrant, retail center, but we wanted to work toward changing the character of that area from industrial to something that offers more opportunity for a mix of residential, commercial, retail, offices and restaurants. We zoned it C-3 Heavy Commercial, which is the zone in the city that allows for the most flexibility of what can go on that property. That’s not a vision of what we would see on the property, but we did want to make sure we were controlling the range of uses that would be allowed and not allowed there.”

For more information about the Northwest/Arctic Region, visit gsa.gov.


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