According to our research, the answer is very rarely. As of the December 2011 GSA lease inventory, there are a total of 339 GSA leases within the District of Columbia, totaling approximately 25.5 MSF. Of those, roughly 315 leases totaling 24.4 MSF (96%) are located in the CEA (Central Employment Area) shaded in purple above.
So, what are the outliers? Most of the office space leased outside of the CEA is occupied by the State Department. For whatever reason, GSA and the District of Columbia have been unable to agree to extend the CEA to the west. Yet, that is where State is located and they have a Memorandum Of Understanding with GSA allowing them to focus their offices in the Foggy Bottom and Rosslyn submarkets. Most remaining outliers are warehouse buildings strung along New York Avenue in the city’s northeastern quadrant.
Clearly GSA has been very strict in its application of the CEA boundaries and the advice to property investors is simple: if you hope to have a GSA tenant in your building, be sure it’s inside the CEA.