Real Estate Division’s varied program touches every project

Published Jan. 14, 2014

“Real Estate Division has a much more varied program than many people realize,” said Audrey Ormerod, chief of the Real Estate Division. “In fact, we touch every district project in some way.”

The Real Estate Division is responsible for ensuring the federal government has sufficient real estate interests necessary to support the construction, operations and maintenance of both civil works and military projects.

Realty specialist technical leads from the division’s Acquisition Branch serve on project delivery teams, contribute real estate appendices for project planning reports and coordinate with and support non-federal sponsors. They identify and manage the acquisition of lands, buildings, structures and linear structures for project construction as well as for operations and maintenance activities. In 2013, those projects included the Herbert Hoover Dike (HHD) Rehabilitation project and the HHD Dam Safety Modification Report, a comprehensive study to adequately address problems and alternatives for HHD rehabilitation.  Jacksonville District was also tasked in 2013 with the mission to identify, design, advertise and award within a very short timeframe a number of contracts for the emergency renourishment of beaches on both the east and west coasts of Florida.  And by sifting through hundreds of pages of documentation and receipts, the team is in the process of reviewing supporting crediting documentation for more than 17,000 tracts of land at a value of $1.474 billion.

The Appraisal Branch is a small group of state certified and licensed professionals who estimate and review real estate values for project planning and real estate actions and prepare economic updates for projects, which are used to calculate cost-benefit ratio. Noteworthy projects handled by this team included the Pinellas and Duval Counties Shore Protection Projects, which included full structure inventories of all buildings fronting the ocean and estimating depreciated replacement cost for each structure. The total depreciated replacement cost for these two counties was more than $1 billion.

Once a project achieves operations and maintenance status, if it remains in the federal inventory and does not transfer to the non-federal sponsor, the Management and Disposal Branch becomes involved. This team manages real estate for district projects and disposes of it when no longer needed. In 2013, they processed more than 2,500 consents to easement, more than 1,000 real estate encroachments (resolving 287 of them), nearly 150 military and civil works outgrants of Army-held property to tenants and 170 rights of entry in support of the Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites. A notable disposal was the accreted lands at Huguenot Park to the state of Florida, relieving the federal government of custodianship and potential environmental liabilities.

“Despite furloughs during both the sequestration and federal government shutdown, the In-Leasing Section met execution and reduction requirements for the fiscal year 2013 Military Recruiting Program and maintained almost perfect scores on their customer surveys,” said Ormerod. They processed more than 170 actions, including new, renewal, build-out, expansion/reduction and closure activities and managed more than 220 military and civil works in-leases, contributing $13 million in rent, utilities, support contracts and labor.

The Antilles Section team, which was also furloughed twice in 2013, works all phases of real estate actions in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands: from acquisition to disposal, civil works plans, military recruiting leases, non-federal sponsor support, and military outgrants such as a consolidated permit to update and document the Department of Defense Education Activity’s presence, rights and responsibilities associated with schools at Ft. Buchanan in Puerto Rico. The Antilles Section also works with a very diverse list of civil and military organizations:  Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army Reserve, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Island National Guard, a list limited only by the lands impacted by the actions they are working.