Fairfax County is once again pitching Uncle Sam on the idea of relocating one of its major institutions – this time, the FBI’s headquarters – to a local property in Springfield that the federal government owns.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon S. Bulova (D) and Lee District Supervisor Jeffrey C. McKay urged the federal government Tuesday to consider moving the FBI from its headquarters in the District to a half-empty warehouse owned by the General Services Administration next to the Franconia-Springfield Metro station. Their suggestion comes as Maryland officials and Loudoun County officials are already salivating at the prospect of luring a $1.2 billion complex and nearly 12,000 jobs to their jurisdictions.
Fairfax County officials failed to persuade the federal government to move defense workers to the GSA site as the Pentagon closed some military bases. Instead, under the Base Closure and Realignment Commission, the Department of Defense passed up Fairfax’s GSA site and shifted thousands of workers to the Mark Center in Alexandria, swamping its neighborhood with traffic.
“After the BRAC Mark Center debacle that saw thousands of jobs moved to a location with no transit and a traffic-choked highway system, moving the FBI headquarters to the GSA site would be a chance for the federal government to make a smart decision,” McKay said. In presenting what is known as a board matter at Tuesday’s regular meeting, McKay called the GSA warehouse a “dinosaur” whose redevelopment could trigger similar efforts in the neighborhood.
Supervisor Linda Q. Smyth (D-Providence) said she was not sure that the county should favor public sites over privately owned properties in areas such as Tysons Corner, whose transformation as an urban hub is well under way.
But Supervisor Patrick S. Herrity (R-Springfield) argued that relocating the FBI headquarters to the GSA site makes sense not only because the federal government already owns the property but because locating the federal agency there would not remove any private land from the county’s property tax rolls.
The pitch follows a December vote by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to authorize the GSA to create a consolidated headquarters for the FBI’s main office and several satellites. The agency has outgrown the 40-year-old J. Edgar Hoover Building, and the cost of rebuilding on the same site would likely be prohibitive. Under the Senate committee’s resolution, a new headquarters would need about 2.1 million square feet on a site no bigger than 55 acres, county officials said. It would also have to be on federally owned property close to Metro and the Beltway.
In unanimously adopting the resolution, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors urged Virginia’s congressional delegation to lobby for the move and estimated that it could save the federal government nearly $44 million a year. Board members also acknowledged that Virginia would likely be facing stiff competition from Maryland, most likely in Prince George’s County. The Baltimore Sun has reported that Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) have been working behind the scenes to steer the FBI to Maryland. Loudoun economic development officials also have been eager to lure the FBI there, the Loudoun Times reported last November.