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FBI considered moving headquarters to Prince George's, court papers reveal

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By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 16, 2010

Court filings in a lawsuit over stalled plans to build a mixed-used development in Greenbelt reveal that the FBI might at one time have considered moving to Prince George's County.

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In papers filed by Greenbelt Ventures in its lawsuit against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the development company says that Garth Beall, the managing member of Metroland Developers, had been "secretly meeting with WMATA and the FBI analyzing a potential use of the WMATA property for the FBI's relocation."

Greenbelt Ventures officials say the development company had an agreement with Metroland Developers and Metro to build on the land.

A relocation of the FBI headquarters "would mean that all of the property would be occupied by the FBI," the lawsuit says.

The revelation about possible plans for the FBI relocation is buried in a 118-page response to a motion by Metro to dismiss the lawsuit. The Greenbelt News Review reported last month on the lawsuit and the FBI's possible relocation to Greenbelt.

FBI spokesman Bill Carter said Friday that there had been preliminary discussions "before the economy tanked" to move the headquarters from the aging J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Many sites were under consideration, he said, but he did not know whether Greenbelt was among them.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) was "very much involved" in pushing for a relocation to Maryland, Carter said.

"I'm not aware of Greenbelt," he said. "National Harbor was one of the areas."

Carter said the talks surrounding a move have not advanced since the economic downturn, and he would not identify any other possible relocation sites.

"I'm not aware of imminent plans to relocate the FBI at this time," he said. "Nothing has been decided."

Jon Peterson, senior vice president and owner of Peterson Cos., the developer of National Harbor, said a bid was submitted for FBI office space. The proposal was for 100,000 to 200,000 square feet of office space, not for the entire headquarters, Peterson said.

Rachel MacKnight, a Mikulski spokeswoman, said the senator is aware that the FBI's headquarters does not meet the agency's safety and security needs.

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