Looking to Downsize, National Trust to Sell DC HQ to AEI
- Feb 19, 2013
By Scott Baltic, Contributing Editor
The American Enterprise Institute and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have completed a purchase and sale agreement for the latter’s long-time headquarters building at 1785 Massachusetts Ave. NW., in Washington’s Dupont Circle neighborhood, the two organizations announced Monday. The sale price reportedly will not be disclosed until due diligence is completed.
The 63,800-square-foot Beaux-Arts building, itself a National Historic Landmark, was constructed in 1917, then purchased and renovated by the National Trust in 1977, and has been the group’s headquarters since 1979.
The National Trust was represented by CBRE, and the AEI was represented by Jones Lang LaSalle.
The five-story corner property first served as a luxury apartment complex. Its most famous tenant was Andrew W. Mellon (1855–1937), who rented the entire top floor while serving as Treasury secretary and whose art collection became the core of the National Gallery of Art.
The National Trust’s 2011 strategic plan, a spokesperson told Commercial Property Executive, “calls for the organization to change its program-delivery model to one requiring more direct engagement in communities across America, including more field offices. As a result, the amount of space required for its Washington headquarters is reduced.”
About 25 percent of the building currently is rented by the National Trust to other organizations.
“Our growing community of world-class scholars and staff need a building equal to their talent,” AEI president Arthur Brooks said in a press release. “This property gives us an ideal facility to enhance our expanding programs.”
The AEI, formally known as the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, is currently headquartered two to three blocks away at 1150 17th St. N.W. The institute, which reportedly employs about 185 people, describes itself as “a community of scholars and supporters committed to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity and strengthening free enterprise.”
Current and former AEI senior and visiting fellows include former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Dutch Member of Parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali and former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz.
The building’s sale will be subject to a historic preservation easement covering the exterior and significant interior architectural features. The AEI has engaged Hartman-Cox, an architectural firm whose preservation projects include the Smithsonian Institution National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Archives.
The National Trust is currently searching for another historic building in Washington to serve as its new headquarters.
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