The Salvation Army is planning to move and consolidate its national headquarters in the Washington area, probably in Alexandria, officials of the organization said yesterday.

"We are looking at some properties in Alexandria and it probably will be Alexandria," said Col. Leon Ferraez, the Salvation Army's national communications director. "We are looking at two properties and making an offer on one. This {the Washington area} is the place for us to be. We are always down there anyway."

Two of the properties under consideration are on Slater's Lane in the Old Town waterfront area, according to city sources.

The proposed move, involving 85 employees, would centralize administrative offices in New York, New Jersey and on Vermont Avenue in Washington.

According to Salvation Army officials, the decision to consolidate was made to cut costs, increase efficiency and to give better access to the many nonprofit organizations based in the Washington area.

Ferraez said the headquarters will serve as the focal point for the Salvation Army's 5,000 offices nationwide, which employ 30,000 workers and about 1.25 million volunteers.

The Salvation Army was founded in 1865 in London "as a church for the unchurched," Ferraez said.

In 1880, the community service organization began operations in the United States.

According to Salvation Army literature, 25 million people were helped last year through a variety of programs, including temporary housing for the homeless, substance abuse counseling and emergency disaster services.