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Employee outreach program connects agency work to community impact

| Sally Mayberry, Rocky Mountain Region public affairs
Post filed in: Economic Catalyst  |  Green Building  |  Public Buildings Service

GSA’s impact is broad and deep across the country. It’s so broad that sometimes it’s difficult to connect the dots and to understand how exactly the agency and the work of our nearly 12,000 employees are making a difference all across the country and specifically, at the Rocky Mountain Region here in Denver.

To help connect employee work to our community, Rocky Mountain Regional Administrator Sue Damour decided to stand up an outreach program. Small groups of 20 or less gather at the Denver Federal Center (DFC) Light Rail “Federal Station” to board the train that takes them downtown, a place where GSA is well known for being an economic catalyst.

The story starts here with the Regional Transportation District’s (RTD) West Light Rail Line. The 12.1 mile line would not have been possible without the support of many, including GSA. In 2007, GSA sold a total of 65 acres to the city of Lakewood. Fifteen of those acres were for the subsequent sale of the land to RTD for construction of the light rail and bus intermodal facility and the remaining 50 acres were used for the subsequent sale of the land and construction of St. Anthony Hospital, the first ever hospital in Lakewood and right next to the DFC. Besides the federal campus with more than 6,000 jobs, the area is also home to the Union Corridor with 13,000 jobs and the new medical campus. This effort combined with actions such as the U.S. Department of Transportation providing approximately $300 million dollars, brought the project full circle and to fruition.

The train ride ends at Union Station, a historic Denver landmark first built in 1881; however, our story continues. In the 1990s, when the U.S. economy experienced a major recession, downtown Denver looked very different – barren lots with no reason for anyone to visit.

GSA played a key role in redeveloping this struggling neighborhood by buying the main post office annex. In place of the dilapidated facility, GSA built a cutting edge sustainable building that is now the regional headquarters for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which helped start a new beginning for this neighborhood.

inside of office building

This building was Colorado’s first Gold Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) new construction facility and it is 98 percent efficient compared to almost all other buildings in Denver. GSA negotiated a 10 year lease rate at $32 per square foot, which is a bargain in today’s real estate market where leases are now going for close to $43 a square foot.

Previously a no-man’s land of abandoned rail yards, this section of Denver has been transformed into a progressive urban center buzzing with offices, restaurants, stores, condos, hotels, and entertainment. The EPA building was the first project to launch the now-thriving 14 city blocks between Wynkoop and Riverfront Park.

Whether you are in contracting, design, architecture, project management, historic preservation, or the like, GSA accomplished its mission with this project by delivering the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to government and the American people. A true testament to how all of GSA’s programs and talent come together to make a tangible and positive difference in the lives of many.