Greenbelt developer partners with top NY firm, lays out plan to house FBI

Looking at the parking lot outside the Greenbelt Metro station in Prince George’s County, it’s difficult to imagine a federal campus big enough to accommodate 11,000 FBI workers being built there.

Perhaps this will make it easier.

After the General Services Administration announced Tuesday that the Greenbelt Metro lot had made the list of three finalists to become the future headquarters of the law enforcement agency, Garth Beall, the attorney managing the Greenbelt proposal, released his plans to Capital Business for a series of five office buildings for the FBI alongside 1.6 million square feet of private offices, apartments, retail and a hotel.


In the massive Greenbelt complex proposed by Renard Development, the FBI would occupy the five lower buildings. (Courtesy Renard Development/Gensler)

In the plans, the FBI would occupy five office buildings in the center of the property and enjoy a wide buffer area around it to provide for security concerns. A parking garage for the agency is pictured at the far right with solar panels on its roof.

Immediately adjacent to the Metro station, on the northern end of the site, would be a new parking lot for Metro commuters (to the far left). As part of its deal with Metro, Beall’s project must replace all the parking and Kiss and Ride facilities currently on the site. That’s followed by (from right to left) an apartment building, a hotel and three private office buildings.

Metro passengers arriving to the site would disembark into a plaza area connecting the mixed-use properties to the FBI campus. A view from the Metro station of the plaza shows the hotel to the left, an apartment building to the right and the FBI office buildings in the background, accessible via underground walkway.


A view from the Metro station shows mixed-use development with FBI headquarters buildings in the background. (Courtesy Renard Development/Gensler)

A criticism being whispered about the Greenbelt proposal is that Beall and the development company he leads, Renard Development Company LLC, don’t have the bank account or the organizational chops to pull off the 3.7-million-square-foot project they’ve prepared.

The two other final sites are connected to well-capitalized, well-connected development firms with long resumes. Boston Properties, which reported $2.3 billion in income last year, mostly on top office buildings in markets like Boston, D.C., Manhattan and San Francisco, is at work on the site being considered in Springfield.

The second finalist, the former Landover Mall, is owned by a joint venture led by Lerner Enterprises and the Tower Cos., which have developed millions of square feet in Washington, Virginia and Maryland.

Beal says he has addressed that disparity by way of a joint venture agreement he signed with a titan of development from New York, Related Cos. (Related confirmed the agreement). Founded by Chairman Stephen M. Ross in 1972, Related has a staff of more than 2,000 and has developed more than $22 billion in real estate.

Related is known for its expertise in expansive, complicated projects, some of which dwarf the proposed FBI consolidation. In New York, Related is at work on the $15 billion Hudson Yards project in Manhattan and is also plotting a $6.5 billion development on 215 acres in Silicon Valley.

Compared to those two, 3.7 million square feet doesn’t look like much.

Beall said the partnership positions Related and Renard to compete together for the grand prize in the FBI sweepstakes, the 6.7-acre J. Edgar Hoover Building property on Pennsylvania Avenue. Now that the search has been narrowed down to three sites, the GSA plans a separate competition among companies interested in building the FBI headquarters, with payment in the form of the Hoover building.

“We would put together a team to bid on the FBI part of the project, just the same as any other team would,” Beall said.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

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