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Virginia officials identify six sites worthy of new FBI HQ

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Local,Virginia,Taylor Holland

Virginia leaders met Thursday to discuss six sites they say are worthy of housing the new suburban headquarters of the FBI and pledged to bring a united front in their efforts to woo the agency to the state.

Although lawmakers in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford all hope sites in their counties are chosen as the agency's new home, Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., who called the meeting, said it was important to ensure the competing jurisdictions don't attack one another. Rather, officials should work together to lure the FBI into the commonwealth.

"Our singular focus as a bipartisan delegation is bringing the FBI to Virginia," Moran said after the meeting, "and we'll continue working together to advocate for FBI relocation to Virginia."

Lawmakers also used the meeting to tout each site -- a warehouse in Springfield, the Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon, Fort Belvoir, Washington Dulles International Airport, Potomac Shores in Dumfries and Quantico -- as superior to any in Maryland. Officials in both Prince George's and Montgomery counties have yet to publicly identify the sites they plan to submit for the agency but say they feel confident about their chances.

Officials from both states plan to submit applications for the project, which brings with it the promise of landing nearly 12,000 new jobs and a share of the agency's $8 billion annual budget.

But preliminary U.S. Senate 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 locations in Fairfax and Prince George's counties the early favorites.

Prince George's lawmakers say the facility would be an economic boon for the state and is necessary because of the high number of federal employees that live there, while Fairfax officials say a move to the Springfield warehouse would come cheap for the feds.

"This isn't just about plunking down a facility to help somebody's economic development," said Democratic U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly. "[The opportunity] in Virginia is unrivaled."

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner said all of the state's lawmakers have agreed to "check their Democratic and Republican hats at the door" and work to bring the agency to Virginia.

"We feel very confident that, as long as this process and decision is made on the merits, Virginia will be successful," Warner said, citing better access to public transportation and a high volume of FBI employees who live in Virginia.

Neither the General Services Administration, which serves as the federal government's real estate arm, nor the House of Representatives have described the final requirements for the headquarters.

The GSA has, however, publicly offered to trade the J. Edgar Hoover Building as part of the deal in hopes of reducing the cost of what is expected to be a very expensive move.

Moran said he expects more information to be released by March, which will then help lawmakers whittle down the number of potential sites for the agency's relocation.

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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