J. Edgar Hoover FBI building headquarters. (Wikipedia)
As the deadline for the General Services Administration to narrow the list of potential FBI headquarters locations looms, local officials and federal lawmakers are jostling to put their favorite spot on the list.
GSA will be narrowing its list of sites to just a handful by the end of the spring so potential developers can offer detailed solicitations and plans for new headquarters designs and building options. Multiple locations can still end up on the shortlist.
In Maryland, lawmakers at all levels have united behind placing the new FBI headquarters in Prince George’s County. The county’s preferred location is an 80-acre tract of land next to the Greenbelt metro station.
Proponents argue that its adjacent metro access, reverse commute to Washington, D.C., and proximity to Fort Meade and other national security locations make it ideally suited to house the new FBI headquarters.
Aubrey Thagard, the interim chief administrative officer for economic development and public infrastructure for Prince George’s County, said the development would spur more economic development.
But he also said that while about 25 percent of the Washington-area federal workforce resides in the county, it only accounts for about 4 percent of federal office space leases. He said GSA is now giving the county a serious look.
“I think it’s important to underscore GSA has not really looked seriously at Prince George’s County in the past,” Thagard said.
The entire Maryland Congressional delegation has also thrown its weight behind Prince George’s County, including Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee, who said Maryland and Virginia are “duking it out” over the proposed headquarters.
“But my criteria, wearing my national hat, is that you need full consolidation,” she said March 27.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said 43 percent of employees who work at the current FBI headquarters live in Maryland.
“Maryland is an outstanding choice for the FBI’s new headquarters, and I believe the entire delegation is united behind Prince George’s County,” Cummings said.
In Virginia, lawmakers and officials are pushing a GSA warehouse complex in Springfield, near the Franconia-Springfield metro, noting its proximity to existing FBI facilities in Quantico and major highways.
Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., said the area also has some of the best schools in the country and is highly ranked as one of the best places to live.
“I look forward to working with GSA officials to secure the best location for the FBI, its mission and personnel. Based on its merits, GSA’s requirements, and the FBI’s needs, Springfield is the best option,” he said.
The criteria GSA is using to narrow its list of possible FBI headquarters locations include:
■A site large enough to fit about 2.1 million square feet of office and related space – or about 50 acres according to agency estimates. That can accommodate level V security standards.
■Within two miles of a metrorail station and inside the I-495 boundary or within two miles of an interstate highway interchange.
■Easy access to public transportation and to two distinct sources of electrical power to ensure continuity of operations.
Another possible site for the new FBI headquarters includes an 88-acre parcel of land that includes the Landover Shopping Mall in Greater Landover, Md. Washington officials have also suggested Poplar Point in Southeast Washington, across the Anacostia River from the Navy Yard.
GSA officials have not met with lawmakers or local officials in order not to taint the awarding process.
The development of the FBI site hinges on the successful exchange of the old building in Washington, D.C., with a new facility for roughly equal costs.
A 2005 law authorizes GSA to enter into special financing deals to exchange, trade, lease or otherwise negotiate for new construction or renovation projects.
The Government Accountability Office in 2011 estimated a new FBI headquarters would cost $1.5 billion, while the cost to renovate the existing facility ranged from $850 million to $1.1 billion and still would not fully meet the agency’s security needs.
Once GSA narrows down the list of potential sites, it will conduct environmental reviews at each one to determine suitability for a large-scale facility. Developers will also be able to offer designs and construction plans based around specific sites.
GSA would award a final developer and site sometime in mid- to late 2015.
GSA is also asking that the new headquarters be LEED Gold certified — the second-highest rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.