For Sale: Unused Federal Property

Lindsay Mannering
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ObamaWhat do you do if you have a lot of extra junk and need some cash? Why, a yard sale, of course. You put your stuff on the lawn, mark it with stickers, and collect cash from neighbors. If you're President Obama and the junk is unneeded federal property that could be sold for billions, you forgo the stickers and instead propose a panel that will cut through the red tape and get these defunct or under-utilized properties sold.

The panel will be comprised of both private and public sector personnel who will pull together a list of which properties to sell, then present the details to Congress for a yay or nay vote.

Question: how much is Guam going for?

Unfortunately there won't be any islands up for sale. It's only buildings and vacant lots that will be up for grabs. You won't find any deals on St. John's or Puerto Rico ... no land masses, tropical or not, are on the chopping block, which is too bad because this billion dollars burning a whole in my pocket isn't going to spend itself.

Among the 1.2 million government-owned properties, there are roughly 14,000 old buildings that the government owns that it'd like to shed. And the panel will recommend which ones to sell off to bring in or save $15 billion over the next three years. Already on the list is an unoccupied warehouse in Brooklyn that's been vacant for a decade and five empty structures in Fort Worth, Texas. If we see the U.N. on the list, we know we've got trouble.

It all sounds like a great idea to me -- everyone loves to get out of the old and into the saving, or out of the red and into the black. I just hope that it's actually able to happen (this isn't the first time this idea has been proposed) and that there are private investors out there with the cash to buy up these old government buildings. A big old "For Sale" sign on a derelict building for months or years makes a potential eye-sore even worse.

This recycling of buildings seems not only economical, but environmentally favorable. I hope companies or private buyers will consider buying an unused government building before constructing a new one. And if any exotic US territories go on the market, please, someone, give me a call (and a ton of money) because mama needs her own island.

What do you think of Obama's proposed plan to sell down federal property?


Photo via ProgressOhio/Flickr

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