The U.S. General Services Administration has come up with a new plan to solve a costly facilities problem in downtown Los Angeles.

Under the plan, which GSA Acting Administrator Daniel Tangherlini outlined in a June 22 letter to members of California’s congressional delegation, the agency will begin to seek a private development company to which it will transfer the New Deal-era North Spring Street federal courthouse, which needs an estimated $250-million overhaul.

In return for that 78-year-old property, the developer would construct for GSA what Tangherlini called “a new, highly efficient federal building” nearby, into which the agency would shift federal workers from leased space in the area.

GSA also plans to proceed with constructing a new federal courthouse on the same site as the envisioned, developer-built federal office building. Tangherlini said GSA is now in the process of picking a “design-builder” for that new courthouse and anticipates awarding the contract later this year.  He also says the project is expected to be completed in 2016.

Tangherlini said the swap with the developer would save taxpayers the cost of renovating the Spring Street facility for federal use as well as about $10 million a year in lease expenses GSA is now incurring in other Los Angeles buildings.

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), who chairs the House subcommittee responsible for federal-buildings authorizations, said, “It’s about time GSA wants to dispose of the Spring Street property in L.A. I look forward to seeing the numbers that offer a reduction in the federal footprint and a reduction of the federal debt.”

The new Los Angeles courthouse project goes back more than a decade and has gone through a couple of iterations. Congress had appropriated $399.6 million for that new building from 2001 through 2005. As of late last year, GSA had spent about $40 million of that, for site acquisition and design.

Denham has been pushing GSA to sell or dispose of unused or underused federal buildings. He also blasted an earlier Los Angeles courthouse construction plan,  contending it would have been a waste of federal funds.

Tangherlini, formerly the Treasury Dept.’s chief financial officer, was installed as GSA’s acting chief in April after an inspector general’s report found “wasteful and excessive” spending by the agency’s Public Buildings Service on a 2010 conference at a Nevada hotel. GSA's then-administrator, Martha Johnson, dismissed two other top GSA officials and resigned.