The Washington Post

Metro proposes land deal to lure FBI to Prince George’s County

Officials of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority have proposed using 78 acres the agency owns at its Greenbelt station to bolster efforts to have a new FBI headquarters built in Prince George’s County.

The real estate committee of Metro’s board of directors is expected to vote Thursday on the proposal.

Making the land — where Metro currently has more than 3,700 parking spaces and 17 bus bays — available for the FBI could give Prince George’s a leg up in the fierce competition to attract the law enforcement agency and as many as 11,000 of its employees.

The FBI is looking for a new headquarters because its longtime home in the J. Edgar Hoover Building is crumbling and inadequate. The General Services Administration (GSA) has proposed swapping the Hoover building site, along Pennsylvania Avenue NW in the District, for a new headquarters on at least 40 acres near a Metro station and the Beltway.

In the proposal, Metro would amend an existing development agreement with Renard (formerly Metroland Developers) to enable either the developer or Prince George’s officials to submit the site for consideration by the FBI. Responses to the search are due March 4, though the GSA may then seek more detailed proposals.

With the FBI’s relocation looming, the Metro board amended a previous agreement with the developer in 2011. The change would give Renard until March 1, 2014 to persuade the GSA to move the FBI to Greenbelt. The developer would then pay fair market value for the property.

Metro’s planning staff, in the proposal, reasoned that bringing the FBI to Greenbelt would benefit the transit agency by improving the station’s limited Beltway access, encouraging “reverse commuting” to Prince George’s, increasing ridership at the site and replacing existing facilities at no cost.

Prince George’s has the least federal office space of any major jurisdiction in the Washington region, a sore spot for county officials there, particularly after the GSA bypassed the county two years ago in awarding a $450 million lease for the Department of Health and Human Services to a developer in Rockville. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Rep. Donna Edwards, all Maryland Democrats, and County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) have played a role in seeking the FBI.

Despite its work on behalf of Greenbelt, Metro’s staff was careful not to take sides in their proposal. Local officials and developers from other jurisdictions are assembling their own proposals.

“Though there is a strong case for attracting the FBI headquarters to Greenbelt, Metro’s support of the Greenbelt site is non-exclusive,” the Metro proposal reads. “If other entities wish to compete for the FBI headquarters at other Metro station sites, Metro will cooperate with them, as well.”

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.


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