Drug Agency Under Fire for Tenancy

Drug Agency Under Fire for Tenancy
Posted by FoM on February 08, 2000 at 06:14:49 PT
By Jackie Spinner, Washington Post Staff Writer
Source: Washington Post 
The terms of the lease on the McLean office building were clear, in black and white: The tenant had to vacate the premises by Oct. 31, 1999. And that's what the landlord, the West Group, expected to happen.But three months later the tenant is still there, occupying space promised to someone else after ignoring notices to vacate.
Instead of calling the sheriff, the West Group called on Congress to help kick out the squatter. Because this squatter is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which operates a drug-testing lab on the property."This is a situation that is untenable," said Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.). "The federal government can't be disregarding notices to vacate the premises. They are illegally there."Moran and Republican Reps. Thomas M. Davis III and Frank R. Wolf, who also represent portions of Northern Virginia, intervened last week to try to resolve the dispute, which is technically between the West Group, the largest landlord in Tysons Corner, and the General Services Administration, the government's real estate agency. DEA does not have the authority to negotiate its own leases.GSA officials now promise that the drug lab will be gone by fall and then will move to a temporary location as yet unidentified. Moran said the move will take place, "period.""We have to insist the federal government act responsibly here," Moran said.A spokesman for the West Group declined to comment. Company President Gerald T. Halpin has contributed to the political campaigns of all three congressmen. Halpin's wife, Helen, also is a contributor.Anthony E. Costa, GSA assistant regional administrator for public buildings in the Washington area, acknowledged that the agency made a mistake. The blunder will cost taxpayers about $6 million, the price of relocating the lab to a temporary space for two years until a new, permanent home is ready."This is not a normal action," Costa said. "We should have been out. . . . We didn't get our stuff together."DEA has leased the West Group building, off Route 123, since 1972. A DEA spokeswoman said the 30,000-square-foot facility is used for drug analysis, research and training.The lease expired in December 1997 and was extended through Oct. 31, 1999, to give the government two more years to find a place for a new, much larger lab.Sources said the West Group plans to redevelop the property for an investment firm, which is likely to pay significantly more than GSA has for new office space.The drug agency was paying about $16 per square foot for the 30-year-old structure in the Westgate office complex, a cluster of mostly two-story brick buildings built in the mid-1960s and early 1970s.The average rent for such existing Class C office space in the area is $20 per square foot, according to CoStar Group Inc., a commercial real estate research and information company. Rents for new office space under construction in the Tysons Corner area range from $31 to $35 per square foot.Moran said that West Group officials are concerned that the deal with their new tenant is in jeopardy as long as the DEA remains."We can't allow the federal government to subvert a substantial opportunity for the landowner," he said. "Nor do we want this to go to the court."In the meantime, the GSA's Costa said the agency is close to finding a temporary space for the laboratory. Sources said the West Group has offered other space on one of its properties. GSA also will need to find a permanent location for a new lab in Northern Virginia that will be nearly twice as large as the current facility.The agency also will have to ask Congress for the $6 million to put DEA into temporary quarters. By Jackie SpinnerWashington Post Staff WriterTuesday, February 8, 2000; Page E01  Copyright 2000 The Washington Post CompanyCannabis News DEA Related Articles: Search Of DEA Articles over 300 Articles:
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on February 08, 2000 at 10:49:15 PT
Right again kaptinemo
No animal can sleep in a bed..... with sheets!
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on February 08, 2000 at 10:14:02 PT
Deadbeat Drug... Agents?
It's not as if they couldn't pay the rent. After all, with all the millions they steal from people via forfeiture, they can certainly foot the bill. Yet another example of 'Do as I say, not as I do!' And they demand respect? Seems to me this is a job for the local sheriff's office; they are in charge of evicting deadbeat tenants.
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