The U.S. General Services Administration has proposed an unusual solution to a costly federal 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, GSA will seek a private development firm to which it will transfer the New Deal-era North Spring Street federal courthouse. If GSA were to keep the building for federal use, it would need a $250-million overhaul.

To acquire the 74-year-old courthouse, the developer would build nearby for GSA a new 150,000- to 175,000-sq-ft office building, to which GSA would shift federal workers from leased space in the area. Tangherlini said the deal would save taxpayers the cost of renovating the Spring Street facility and $10 million a year in lease costs that GSA now incurs in the area. Developers should be drawn to the old courthouse's architecture, artwork and location in a redeveloping neighborhood, says Victor Castillo, an aide to Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.).

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), who chairs a subcommittee that oversees federal buildings policy, 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."

GSA also is moving ahead with plans for a new 600,000-sq-ft federal courthouse, to be constructed on the same site as the envisioned, developer-built federal office building.

In March, GSA short-listed four teams for the estimated $312-million to $322-million design-build project. The teams are: Clark Construction/Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Hensel Phelps/Yazdani Studio and Gruen Associates; McCarthy Building Cos./Brooks+Scarpa and HMC Architects; and Mortenson Construction/NBBJ. GSA expects to award the contract later this year and complete the project in 2016.

Plans for a new Los Angeles courthouse go back more than 10 years and have had a couple of iterations. Congress has appropriated $399.6 million for the project. As of late last year, GSA had spent about $40 million for the site and earlier design work.