Thursday, January 26, 2017

Grassley objects to Fannie Mae building

Sen. Chuck Grassley has asked the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie 

Mae, to provide a detailed accounting of the decision to move to the new Plano building and an analysis of the costs.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has raised a red flag over Fannie Mae’s planned regional headquarters in Plano.

A veteran U.S. senator is hammering mortgage giant Fannie Mae over its plans for a regional headquarters in Plano.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has raised a red flag over what he calls “$24.2 million in excessive costs for the leased building in Plano.”

Last year, Fannie Mae leased a 10-story, 330,000square-foot building near the southeast corner of the Dallas North Tollway and State Highway 121.

Plano-based developer Granite Properties is building the high-rise for Fannie Mae, which plans to downsize its Dallas-area offices and move them into the new tower in the Granite Park development.

In a letter to Melvin Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Grassley said the deal indicates a lack of oversight.

“Choosing an area of Dallas known as the ‘platinum corridor’ makes me wonder who’s minding the store,” Grassley said. “It is inexcusable that neither Fannie Mae nor FHFA have conducted an appropriate review to determine the reasonableness of the lease or the budgeted build-out costs for this project.

“As an agency charged with oversight of the mortgage market, Fannie Mae has an even greater responsibility to effectively manage its own real estate project(s) and to do so in a manner that is not wasteful of taxpayer dollars.”

Grassley asked the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae, to provide a detailed accounting of the decision to move to the new Plano building and an analysis of the costs.

“Please explain why the build-out costs per square foot increased for the Granite Park VII office space, from $200 to $234.02 over a five-month period,” he said in the letter.

Federal Housing Finance Agency officials said they strongly disagree with criticism of the project.

Deputy Director Bob Ryan, in a letter to the Senate, defended “Fannie Mae’s new Dallas office space, which is expected to provide a significant reduction in square footage from the current leased space, have fewer offices, add resiliency operations and have a much higher density design than the space Fannie Mae currently occupies.”

Fannie Mae signed a 15 year lease in the Granite Park building, which will be ready late this year.


Steve Brown/Dallas Morning News