New GSA requirements eliminate Prince William, Loudoun from FBI HQ search

Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart blasted a recent decision by the federal government that would effectively eliminate Prince William and Loudoun counties from consideration for the new FBI headquarters.

Stewart (R-At Large) said that the counties’ federal delegation did too little to fight for the FBI site, which would have been a huge employment center and economic driver.

“This is all about Barbara Mikulski getting her way,” Stewart said of the Maryland senator, a Democrat, who has fought for a site in Prince George’s County.

FBI employees who live in Fairfax County would have a reverse commute to Prince William, Stewart said, and many FBI employees live in Prince William and Stafford counties.

“It’s unfortunate that politics has to trump practicality, and this is the result,” Stewart said.

The FBI says its current home at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in the District no longer meets its needs. The General Services Administration, in charge of finding a new home for the FBI headquarters, said last week that it is looking for 50 acres within two miles of a Metro station and 2.5 miles of the Capital Beltway. That criteria would eliminate proposals in Prince William and Loudoun.

Loudoun Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott K. York (R) said the fight is far from over. The GSA’s new criteria are not final, York said in an e-mail.

“There’s still a long road ahead before this issue is said and done,” he said.

Both counties want the FBI headquarters and its 11,000 jobs to serve as the centerpiece of development plans. In Prince William, officials want it to serve as the linchpin for its Potomac Shores development in Woodbridge. In Loudoun, officials had pushed sites along or near the future path of Metro’s Silver Line, in an area that reaches west from Dulles airport to the final Loudoun Metro station in Ashburn.

Virginia is still in contention. A site in Springfield, which has a CIA facility on it, meets the GSA’s criteria. A spokeswoman for Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.) declined to comment.

Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), said that Virginia is certainly still in the running for the FBI site

“There have been dozens of meetings at the highest levels, as recently as last week,” he said of Warner’s work on the issue. “We are very confident that Virginia will present a competitive proposal that meets the FBI’s criteria.”

Mikulski said in an April news release that 43 percent of FBI employees live in Maryland. Just 17 percent live in the District and 33 percent in Virginia, according to her office.

“Providing a more convenient work location for a majority of FBI workers [who live in Maryland] will improve employee morale and help them save on daily transportation expenses,” Mikulski said in the statement.

Maryland officials have rallied behind a Greenbelt location, and Fairfax leaders have pushed Springfield as a home.

The GSA has specified what locations it would consider and which parts of the region are eligible. They are the District, Montgomery County, Prince George’s, Arlington County, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Alexandria, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Herndon, Vienna and Manassas.

Loudoun officials submitted eight properties they had hoped would fit the bill. Given their distance from the Beltway, sites in Loudoun and Prince William are effectively eliminated.

The GSA’s minimum requirements include:

→Property that can accommodate 2.1 million square feet of office and related space, including parking. The GSA “anticipates that approximately 50 acres would be needed to satisfy this project requirement,” it said in a statement.

→Level V security protection, the same as the Pentagon and CIA headquarters.

→Access to Metro and the Beltway.

→Adequate access to public utilities.

The requirements closely track those in a resolution set by a Senate committee in 2011, but they would eliminate the possibility that the FBI could relocate farther into Northern Virginia, such as to Culpeper or Stafford counties. The Republican-controlled House has not passed any legislation guiding the search.

The agency plans to narrow the list of locations early next year, seek a development partner in mid-2014 and select a partner to build the FBI campus in 2015.

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.

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