The GSA under President Donald Trump canceled a decade-long plan to relocate the headquarters, leaving the intelligence agency stuck with a crumbling building that doesn’t meet its security requirements.
With new leadership settling in at the GSA, it is too early for the agency to have made significant progress on the plan.
But officials from the District, Maryland and Virginia are already jockeying for the honor of hosting whatever is ultimately built.
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said Thursday that the federal government’s premier law enforcement body should remain in the nation’s capital — albeit at a new address. Possible sites in the city include Poplar Point or Buzzard Point, or the abandoned St. Elizabeths Hospital campus in Congress Heights.
“We believe that there’s a better use for the current FBI building on Pennsylvania Avenue. We also believe that the FBI wants to remain in Washington,” Bowser said.
Redeveloping the J. Edgar Hoover building would return a piece of valuable real estate to the District, while offering an opportunity to create a retail, commercial, residential or mixed-used project that would draw people downtown as the city tries to recover from the pandemic-triggered economic slowdown.
At the same time, the District doesn’t want to lose the thousands of law enforcement personnel who work out of the Hoover Building to either the Maryland or Northern Virginia suburbs.
Maryland’s congressional delegation, on the other hand, sees the headquarters project as an opportunity to revitalize a section of Prince George’s County, at a time when job creation and investment in the suburbs that border Washington have lagged.
The state is home to a number of large corporations, including Marriott International, as well as several sizable federal government agencies. But job growth has been far stronger in Northern Virginia, which in recent years has attracted headquarters projects for companies like Nestle and Amazon.
“A new modern headquarters with enhanced security standards, which we can offer in Maryland, will allow the FBI to best meet its law enforcement mission today and decades into the future. We also welcome the thousands of jobs and economic benefits that this opportunity would bring,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said in a statement earlier this week.
Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) said Trump’s loss to Joe Biden cleared the way to relaunch the FBI relocation project, which Trump had sidelined days before a new site was announced. The top contenders were believed to be Landover or Greenbelt, Md.; Springfield, Va.; or the District.
“Let’s just get it back on track,” Brown said in an interview Friday. “That’s not a difficult lift, with Trump out of the way.”
Brown said once the GSA analysis is complete, “team Maryland” will launch a full lobbying effort to secure the headquarters, involving the congressional delegation — led by House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) — as well as Hogan and state lawmakers.
The proposed Landover site, which is in Brown’s district, provides easy transportation ties to the Interstate 495 portion of the Capital Beltway and a Metro stop, Brown said. Unlike the Springfield location, he said, Landover’s 86 acres do not require razing buildings or relocating people.
“You could even do a firing range on that site,” he said.
In Virginia, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D) said Maryland could “compete fair and square” for the project, but insisted that Springfield would be the most desirable site.
He described its transportation access — the Metro, the confluence of I-495, I-95 and I-395, and the remade “mixing bowl” — as “unrivaled by any competitor,” while also noting that the FBI’s archives and training academy, as well as the CIA headquarters and the Pentagon, are all in Virginia.
“Only the site in Virginia offers synergies with the FBI itself,” Connolly said. “At the end of the day, this is not about whose turn is it, or who benefits economically. This is about the functionality of the FBI.”
Julie Zauzmer and Meagan Flynn contributed to this report.