Not so fast, said the General Services Administration in regard to reports of a recent letter from the District of Columbia’s Planning and Economic Development office effectively withdrawing from the competition to land the new FBI headquarters site.
The same week in which lawmakers and local officials from Maryland and Virginia offered dueling proposals to attract the FBI to the suburbs, GSA spokesman Dan Cruz told Government Executive, “We welcome the District of Columbia’s submission to this competitive process.”
District Deputy Mayor Victor Hoskins in his Nov. 26 letter to GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini had interpreted the criteria in GSA’s Request for Expressions of Interest to mean the federal government’s landlord agency was favoring sites larger than the 40 acres at Poplar Point in Anacostia that D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray had offered last March. “The District has long served as the home of the FBI headquarters and would like the opportunity to continue to do so,” Hoskins wrote. “While the noted criteria do not explicitly prevent a submission, the District would have appreciated competing in a process that didn’t have the appearance of eliminating Poplar Point as a possible relocation site.”
To clear up the confusion, Cruz said, “The language regarding the acreage is not a minimum nor a maximum requirement. Smaller or larger sites that satisfy all minimum requirements of square footage, security, access to public transit and access to the Capital Beltway will be considered. Any jurisdiction or property owner within the delineated area that believes they have a site that would satisfy the needs of this project is strongly encouraged to propose that property for consideration.”
Specifically, GSA’s requirements call for land “approximately 50 acres” situated “within two miles of a Metrorail station, and either inside the Capital Beltway or within 2.5 miles of a Capital Beltway interchange.”
A D.C. Council resolution introduced earlier this year by councilmembers Jack Evans and Vincent B. Orange Sr. contained language backing an effort by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., to keep the FBI within the capital city’s borders. It mentioned possibilities of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center site in Ward 4, the former Coast Guard headquarters at Buzzards Point in Ward 6, or the St. Elizabeth’s campus in Ward 8.
The draft resolution criticized the Maryland and Virginia options by saying the roads in those states are inadequate, that state budgets too tight and FBI employees would suffer from longer commutes. It added, “The potential redevelopment of the current FBI headquarters would have a tremendous positive effect on the District economy if it is done in the right way.”
GSA hopes to pick the list of submitted sites available for use as part of the developer solicitation by this spring during study of impact under the National Environmental Policy Act. The agency would then issue a formal request for proposals by spring or summer.