Fort Meade BRAC moves complete, but development negotiations linger

Mark Gail/The Washington Post - Many contractors have opened offices near Fort Meade to be close to their customers on the base.

The Pentagon’s large-scale relocation effort at Fort Meade is complete, but the base is grappling with negotiations over a project that would allow developer Trammell Crow to build a major office complex on the base.

With the arrival of the Defense Information Systems Agency from Northern Virginia and the growth of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, Fort Meade has become an intelligence focal point for the Pentagon. The growth has attracted contractors eager to be close to their customers.

Though many of these contractors have flocked to nearby office complexes, the Trammell Crow facility would put them inside the base’s gates, an offering that has proven appealing to contractors at Aberdeen Proving Ground, another Maryland base that expanded under the Pentagon’s Base Realignment and Closure effort.

John Moeller, deputy garrison commander at Fort Meade, said negotiations continue on the project, which Trammell Crow has said could include up to a dozen buildings. Because new construction at the base has consumed part of its 36-hole golf course, base officials would like to see Trammell Crow provide a new 18-hole golf course, he said.

Trammell Crow was selected from a group of four contractors in 2006 to negotiate an on-base development. Under the terms of the deal, Trammell Crow would have lease rights on its tract of land for 50 years with a 25-year option.

Trammell Crow did not respond to requests for comment.

As those negotiations continue, the new agencies that relocated to Fort Meade are settling in.

David Bullock, the Defense Information Systems Agency’s BRAC executive, told a panel of Maryland officials last week that the agency now has all 4,000 of its local employees in one facility, a first for the agency since it was established in 1960. The agency relocated nearly 3,900 employees and has since filled close to 300 vacant spots.

Many are choosing to live near the base. In 2005, when the relocation plan was announced, more than three-quarters of the agency’s employees lived in Virginia and just 20 percent in Maryland. At the time, the agency projected those numbers would reverse within five years of the 2011 relocation.

Already, about 55 percent of the agency’s workforce resides in Maryland and about 40 percent in Virginia, and Bullock said he expects the reversal to happen much sooner.

The growth at Fort Meade also was spurred by the arrival of the Defense Media Activity, a Pentagon agency that provides news and entertainment to U.S. forces, as well as defense adjudication entities.

Moeller said he expects the base realignment effort to represent only a fraction of Fort Meade’s growth.

He used the golf course as a metaphor: The base realignment initiative so far has consumed nine holes of the base’s 36-hole golf course with new construction; increases in the size of the NSA and Cyber Command are expected to eat up the remaining 27 holes.

 
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