Maryland is working overtime and undercover in a bid to bring home the new $1.2 billion FBI headquarters. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking for a 2.1 million sq ft office complex in the capital region for its vast headquarters.
Their current home in the J. Edgar Hoover Building is overcrowded and the spillover of new operations launched after 9/11 has pushed the FBI into more than 20 different buildings spread around the Greater Washington region.
Based on studies conducted over the last decade, the FBI and General Services Administration (GSA) considered three possible alternatives:-
- Modernize the Hoover Building (rejected).
- Demolish the Hoover Building and construct a new headquarters on the existing site (rejected).
- Acquire a new headquarters on a new site (approved).
They’re now looking to consolidate all the offices at a new site near the Beltway to increase security and reduce costs to the tune of $44 million per year.
Earlier this month, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) passed a resolution directing the GSA to enter into a private sector lease. A private firm will get the contract to build a 2.1 million sq ft facility on federal land, and the facility will then be leased to the FBI.
The federal government will sell the J. Edgar Hoover Building for $500 million and consolidation of existing FBI leases will provide another $100 million. This $600 million will apparently cover the cost of the new “lease.”
At the end of the lease term, the ownership of the building would be turned over to the Federal government at no additional cost, so tax-payers won’t have to finance a sprawling new FBI headquarters.
The new complex won’t likely be completed until 2020, but the site selection process could begin next year with solicitations to developers. The site has to be within 2.5 miles of the Washington Beltway and not more than 2 miles from a Metro station.
Prince George’s County, MD has already launched a stealth campaign to identify properties to the FBI before Virginia and Washington get into the mix.
Considering the limited radius and availability of the 55-acre parcel of federal land specified in the EPW resolution, there are only so many sites that can be considered. Loudoun County in Virginia is one possibility, and Maryland has multiple sites, including in Suitland and Greenbelt, both in Prince George’s County.
Maryland’s Department of Business and Economic Development is also involved in the covert ops. The organization’s deputy director Jayson Knott refused to identify specific sites, but told the Baltimore Sun that he expects site selection will be a part of the competitive process next year.
“The Greater Washington Area has many viable options that will meet the specific requirements needed to restore efficiency and security to our nation’s premier law-enforcement agency while saving taxpayer resources,” said U.S. Senator Cardin (D-MD). “Such a move will be advantageous to the agency as a whole, as well as each of the 17,300 employees of the FBI headquarters, approximately 40 percent of whom currently reside in Maryland.”
Sen. Cardin was one of the prime movers behind the EPW resolution and also instrumental before that in ‘guiding’ the FBI and GSA to agree to abandon the Hoover Building.