Virginia’s top elected leaders named Springfield as their preferred destination for a new FBI headquarters campus Tuesday, aligning the state’s political firepower in a high-stakes regional competition for 11,000 federal jobs.
The endorsement, by Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe (D), Democratic Sens. Mark R. Warner and Timothy M. Kaine, and other officials, pits Springfield against Greenbelt as the two most prominent sites being pushed for the FBI, which is looking to relocate from the dated J. Edgar Hoover Building in the District.
The General Services Administration, which manages federal real estate, set Tuesday as a deadline for proposed sites. It plans to narrow the list in March and choose a location and a development partner by the summer of 2015. It’s unclear exactly how many proposals the GSA received, but Springfield and Greenbelt have strong political backing and meet much of the required criteria.
Speaking at the Springfield medical campus of Northern Virginia Community College, McAuliffe said the FBI would spin off critical economic activity when it relocates.
“This is thousands of jobs,” he said. “Thousands of jobs and folks who will move to the area, who will go to our stores, our retail stores and our restaurants, who will buy homes, who will rent homes. This is not only important for the Springfield area but also for Northern Virginia.”
The GSA is seeking approximately 50 acres within two miles of a Metro station and 21 / 2 miles of the Capital Beltway. The Springfield site is about two miles south of the Beltway and less than a half-mile from the Franconia-Springfield Metro station, which is also serviced by Virginia Railway Express. It is about 25 miles from Marine Corps Base Quantico, home to an FBI laboratory and training operations.
“This is an ideal location — much better than sites anywhere else in terms of proximity to Quantico and the type of transportation that takes place on a regular basis for the FBI between headquarters and the Quantico facility,” Warner said.
The Springfield location includes 25 privately owned acres. But that land is next door to where the CIA operates a classified facility on federal land. Some fear that the CIA would object to moving the FBI so close to a secure facility. But Warner said he had been given assurances that if the FBI needed some of the federally owned land, the CIA would not pose a problem.
“We would not be putting forward this proposal if we did not feel confident that we would not be interfering with the existing tenants,” Warner said. He would not say whether he had spoken to the CIA directly.
Maryland officials have aligned behind 82 acres in Greenbelt that are owned by Metro. In a February letter to the GSA, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) and Council Chairwoman Andrea Harrison (D-Springdale) called Greenbelt “a superior site that offers many outstanding attributes, including immediate access to Metro and the Capital Beltway, the ability to support a high quality consolidated, secure, office campus, and access to attractive retail and other amenities.”
Aubrey Thagard, an economic development aide to Baker, said the Maryland proposal was submitted Tuesday afternoon in partnership with Renard Development.
The developer in Springfield is Boston Properties, which owns 16 of the 25 privately owned acres and submitted the Virginia proposal. Raymond A. Ritchey, executive vice president of Boston Properties, said in a phone interview that his company had agreements with property owners Inova Health System and an affiliate of Zumot Real Estate Management that would make their land available as well. “There’s a shared commitment to achieve this objective,” Ritchey said.
“The citizens of Virginia should applaud the politicians for unifying behind this site and reflecting the common belief that this is clearly the best outcome,” he added.