7 N.Va. Sites Will Compete For Relocated Military Jobs

By Kristen Mack
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 30, 2007

Seven sites throughout Northern Virginia will compete for the relocation of 6,200 military jobs originally planned for Fort Belvoir, Army officials said yesterday.

Two of the sites, in Springfield and Alexandria, were announced previously, but two more emerged yesterday. They are the planned community known as Harbor Station in the Quantico area of Prince William County and a proposed Manassas Park development called Blooms Grove Station.

The move, part of the federal base realignment process, is supposed to be completed by 2011.

The Army initially planned to move more than 22,000 positions at the Pentagon, Crystal City and other locations in the Washington area to Fort Belvoir, in southeastern Fairfax County. But in response to Virginia officials' concerns about the impact on traffic near the post, the Army agreed over the summer to consider diverting 6,200 jobs to a General Services Administration facility in Springfield. In the fall, two congressmen and some Pentagon officials pushed another site, on private land in the city of Alexandria. After that, Army officials decided to open the search for a site.

"We determined it best to expand the search even further," said Jim Turkel, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Army officials would not say who else submitted proposals by the Nov. 5 deadline. The jurisdiction that wins the competition will gain the benefits of having a large employer but will also take on the challenges that come with that, including increased traffic. Officials said they hope to choose the site next year.

The 2,000-acre Harbor Station community, which broke ground in 2005 along the Potomac River, includes 4,000 townhouses, condominiums and single-family homes; a luxury hotel and conference center; offices; and a retail town center.

The developer, Kettler, designed the site to include a federal agency, such as the Department of Homeland Security, or a defense contractor as a tenant.

"The vision for Harbor Station was to develop a transit-oriented, mixed-use community. The scale and geography of this project makes it an ideal location for a secure campus and planned for precisely this kind of use," said Rick Hausler, Kettler's president. "There is no other proposal we are aware of that can offer the same type of environment."

Kettler's plan also calls for $50 million in transportation improvements, such as a Route 234 overpass at Route 1. The company also would build a Virginia Railway Express station and a commuter parking lot near the heavily traveled corridor.

Prince William Supervisor Hilda M. Barg (D-Woodbridge), whose district includes most of Harbor Station, said choosing that development "makes all the sense in the world. There's a lot of reasons why this could be a good thing. We have the water, the roads and the public transportation for people who want to leave their cars."

American Building Corp., joined by the city of Manassas Park, is offering a 115-acre site near VRE's Manassas line. If approved, it would include approximately 5 million square feet, with new public buildings, a hotel, condominium towers and office space for up to 20,000 workers.

"Blooms Grove Station will redefine how communities are designed to fit together, create a sense of place and be sustainable," said David Willmore of American Building.

The Army requires whatever site is chosen to be completed by June 15, 2011. The site must have more than 1.5 million square feet, parking for approximately 3,800 vehicles and such amenities as a fitness center and cafeteria.

"We are hoping that within the next couple of weeks we will have completed our initial evaluation" to narrow the choices, Turkel said. "We are still in the process of sorting through these. Any of those we consider to be viable candidates, we will request more detailed proposals."

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

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