Virginia, Maryland competing for new FBI HQ

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A federal GSA warehouse site in Springfield, Va., is competing against Prince George's County, Md., to become the new home of the FBI's headquarters building. Map by Jennifer Peebles/Examiner. Local,DC,Maryland,Virginia,Taylor Holland

Virginia and Maryland are ramping up to fight over a development project that would be an economic boon to the state that lands it: the new headquarters of the FBI.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has outgrown its home of four decades, the J. Edgar Hoover Building along Pennsylvania Avenue in the District. Renovating the Hoover building would take 14 years and cost nearly $2 billion, government estimates show. So the FBI is shopping for a site in the D.C. suburbs for a 2-million-square-foot facility that would allow the agency to consolidate all of its Washington-area operations under one roof.

And with the promise of nearly 12,000 new jobs and a share of the agency's $8 billion annual budget, officials in Maryland and Virginia said they intend to fight hard for the project.

"Fairfax is very excited about the opportunity to have the FBI here," said County board Chairwoman Sharon Bulova. "The FBI brings with it a very positive presence and would likely promote spinoffs of private-sector companies that desire to locate near FBI headquarters."

Tough guidelines for the new facility -- the site must be within two miles of a Metro station, 2.5 miles from the Beltway and at least 55 acres -- have made sites in Fairfax County and Prince George's County the early favorites, lawmakers say.

Prince George's was thought to be in prime position after Metro and the General Services Administration, the federal government's real estate manager, agreed in December to group federal development near four Metro stations, two of which -- Branch Avenue and Naylor Road -- are in Prince George's.

But Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay, D-Lee, said Prince George's is simply "desperate to get anything good" but that the Metro stations are unlikely to sway the decision on where to put the FBI.

Fairfax is offering a warehouse in Springfield already owned by the General Services Administration that McKay sees as superior to either choice in Maryland. The county has already written the FBI and the GSA touting the site.

"The FBI already has a campus in Quantico, and a majority of FBI employees live in the area," Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., said. "As the FBI begins its relocation process, they should consider all of the benefits Northern Virginia offers."

But across the Potomac, Prince George's County officials have a sales pitch of their own.

Aubrey D. Thagard, a top aide to Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, said the county had "a good shot" at landing the FBI's new headquarters, but wouldn't reveal the sites the county would offer.

"Having a good shot doesn't mean the road isn't going to be tough," Thagard said. "Our friends in Northern Virginia have enjoyed recent success in attracting [federal tenants]."

Prince George's is also getting help from Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

"Not only does a significant portion of the federal workforce live in Maryland," Hoyer said, "but there is land available for development close to Metro stations, making it a competitive location for the FBI headquarters."

Virginia and Maryland officials said they expect to have proposals ready to show the GSA in the next few months. A Senate committee has already authorized the FBI move. The House is expected to follow suit in coming months.

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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Taylor Holland

Staff writer
The Washington Examiner