Half-empty buildings sucking up taxpayer dollars and unused buildings in disrepair sit in the heart of downtown Miami.
In a rare meeting outside Washington, D.C., the House Oversight and Government Reform panel convened Friday to discuss what to do about the waste.
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, who participated in the field hearing, said she is focused on the Dyer Building at 300 NE First Avenue, which has been sitting empty since 2008. It opened in 1933.
Designated historic, the Dyer Building was once home to the federal courthouse in Miami but is now in disrepair. Wilson said she thinks it would best be used by the students right across the street at Miami Dade College.
"I'm hoping when GSA goes back to Washington, they will knock down the hurdles and do whatever they can to make sure that the Dyer building is ceded to Miami Dade College because it's what we need," Wilson said.
Nearby Miami Dade College is proposing a cultural and educational center for the building.
"I think it's a building going to waste," said student Martin Gross. "I would think it would be an excellent edition to expand the school."
The process to re-designate a federal building to be used for a college is long and potentially costly. Wilson said the benefit would still outweigh any federal or state money used to repair it.
"It is my hope that this hearing will help bring about an end to this impasse and to this waste," Wilson said.
A new Government Accountability Office audit shows that 33 newer courthouses have some 3.5 million square feet of unused space, costing taxpayers an extra $51 million a year.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the GSA said the Obama Administration is setting aggressive goals for using federal real estate assets more efficiently.
"As part of our efforts to make more efficient use of the government’s real estate assets and save taxpayer dollars, GSA engaged the public and industry on ideas for repositioning the Dyer Courthouse. We continue to engage stakeholders, and we are moving forward with the next steps in getting this property off of the government's books.
GSA initially held on to the Dyer Courthouse because we believed that we could use it to house other federal agencies in the region. Now we are moving forward with the process and the due diligence required to get this building off of our books."