Power Players

Millions being wasted on vacant government buildings

Power Players

Spinners and Winners

How much does it cost to maintain a vacant building? After rent and utility bills? Quite a lot. That's why most people who own real estate usually work hard to sell or fill up any vacant building with lease-paying tenants. But a recent study found that the government doesn't seem to be in the same kind of rush.

Hundreds of millions of your tax payer dollars are being spent to hold onto vacant and unused buildings around the country. Exhibit A: A mammoth structure in Georgetown, right in the heart of the nation's capital. The rooftop view looks out over the Potomac River, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, even the Washington Monument. This is some of the most valuable real estate in Washington, D.C., and yet the building has sat mostly unused for more than a decade.

There are an estimated 14,000 vacant or nearly vacant buildings owned by the federal government that cost taxpayers some $190 million a year to maintain, according to a White House spokesperson. A new report by the Government Accountability Office found that the government does not seem to know very much about its own buildings. Many dilapidated properties were listed as being in "Excellent" condition; some empty building are actually listed as occupied.

A Congressional committee recently held a hearing inside the vacant, former Georgetown power plant building, pressing the government to get rid of properties it is not using.

"Any company that allowed this to happen would be bankrupt," said Congressman John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The empty buildings can be found all over the country, many of them owned by the Veterans Administration. In addition to the pricey Georgetown space, there is another building —- the annex to the Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., just blocks from White House -- that has not been used for more than a decade.

Check out Spinners & Winners for all the details of "your money" being spent on pricey, unused property.

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