In the months since the bureau announced its desire to abandon the crumbling, Brutalist behemoth that is the District’s J. Edgar Hoover Building, jurisdictions across the Washington region have made it known that they want the thousands of jobs the FBI would bring.
The District hopes to keep the agency. In Maryland, Montgomery County recently threw its hat into the ring, much to the chagrin of Prince George’s officials, who had assumed that they would be the state’s only competitor.
In Virginia, Fairfax County officials are pushing hard for a site in Springfield near the Springfield-Franconia Metro station that houses large, federally owned storage warehouses that are well past their prime. The county has long hoped to redevelop the area.
“We’re not being shy about saying that we think the Springfield site fits the criteria perfectly,” said Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff C. McKay (D), whose Lee district includes the old warehouses. “This is a golden opportunity.”
But Maryland and the District aren’t the only competition. The city of Alexandria and Prince William, Loudoun and Stafford counties also have been suggested for the relocation. The Springfield site could even lose out to another spot in Fairfax — the Exxon Mobil campus in Merrifield, which the company plans to leave next year. Fairfax favors the Springfield site because it is already federally owned; a public-sector tenant at the Exxon campus would cut the county’s tax base by an estimated $2.5 million.
Leaders from across Northern Virginia are set to meet Thursday in Arlington to try to get on the same page to make sure their state doesn’t miss out.
U.S. Reps. Gerald E. Connolly and James P. Moran Jr., both Fairfax Democrats, have said they support the Springfield site, but their top priority is finding a place for the FBI in Virginia. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R) also wants Virginia to host the FBI but hasn’t backed any particular location.
In a solicitation to real estate developers last month, the agency that oversees most federal buildings — the General Services Administration — proposed swapping the Hoover building’s valuable land on Pennsylvania Avenue for the construction of a new, consolidated campus elsewhere in the Washington region. Among the GSA’s requirements: roughly 55 acres of land and 2 million square feet of space in a location that is easy to protect. A decision is at least months away, and the move wouldn’t happen for several years.
Fairfax says the Springfield location meets all the criteria and has lots of other advantages, too. The site is close to public transit — Metro, Virginia Railway Express, buses and Amtrak — as well as every regional highway except Interstate 66. What’s there now, mostly furniture and patent and trademark records, would be easy to move.