Officials wouldn’t say exactly what else is there now, but they described a “highly secure government tenant” that probably could stay on and share security with the FBI.
Despite claims by Maryland officials that more FBI employees live there, Fairfax says the biggest chunk lives in Virginia, which is also home to the FBI’s major training site in Quantico. “Maryland did a cursory look with a lot of asterisks,” McKay said of the competition’s employee count.
And Fairfax officials say they are willing to bet that FBI employees would overwhelmingly support the Springfield site, both for its convenience and because it is a short walk to plenty of shopping and restaurants — or at least it will be soon. The warehouses are near a site that recently was rezoned for roughly 1 million square feet of new office space with ground-level retail. And across the street, the Springfield Mall is being redeveloped into a walkable town center.
The dilapidated warehouses are a major roadblock to the area’s revitalization, while a new FBI campus could be a centerpiece, said Sharon Bulova (D), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Although it’s not yet clear who might be a front-runner, Prince George’s County could be among the serious competitors. Arguments for a site there include that Prince George’s also has plenty of Metro access, it would help relieve Beltway congestion by reducing the number of westbound morning commuters, and it would spur economic development in a less-affluent part of the region that badly needs it.
But Fairfax is putting up a fight. Nearly a year ago, supervisors unanimously passed a resolution supporting the Springfield site for the FBI. Since then, McKay and the county’s Economic Development Authority have been meeting with local developers to put together a selling package to submit to federal officials by a March deadline. County staffers have put in countless hours pulling data to help market the Springfield site, and the county’s lobbyists are working to convince legislators. The county has named winning the relocation a top legislative priority for the year.
Bulova said she’s confident that the Springfield site can win on its merits, but she’s worried political factors could sway the competition. “It’s important that we not take anything for granted. We were all burned by the Mark Center,” she said, referring to the federal government’s 2011 decision to relocate thousands of its employees to a traffic-choked site near Alexandria with no nearby public transit. Fairfax County wanted the employees moved to the Springfield site.