The General Services Administration (GSA) confirmed this week that the new FBI headquarters will go to Greenbelt, Md., which was chosen over nearby Landover and Springfield, Va.
Inform reported on the debate back in February as lawmakers in Maryland and Virginia appealed to GSA and FBI officials one final time. The arguments were fairly simple: Springfield has easy access to Quantico and other national security facilities, not to mention Metro access; Greenbelt and Landover in Prince George’s County also has Metro access, is home to 15 federal agencies, and seems perhaps less snarled by rush hour traffic than Northern Virginia. Maryland lawmakers also made a compelling that both county sites could satisfy the FBI’s racial equity requirement, with more than 60 percent of residents identifying as African-American.
In recent years, however, the choices around weighing amenities and demography had been bogged down by political wrangling on Capitol Hill and tit-for-tat sniping across the Potomac by boosters in Fairfax and Prince George’s Counties. The ghosts of former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s administration also appeared in the press, who still felt that keeping the FBI within the District’s borders best served the agency and its workers. (The Washington Post published an excellent piece on Nov. 8 covering all of it, but you will need several hours and a big piece of paper to keep track of the factions.)
Now that the choice has been made, what will become of the jilted Virginia site? It’s anyone’s guess, but Fairfax County officials say demand for affordable rental housing for households with low- and moderate-income remains high, offering a strong highest-and-best-use case. It’s also near several behemoth employers like Amazon, Boeing, and Raytheon, not to mention the Franconia-Springfield Metro station, making the site viable for both federal agencies and peripheral private sector players. The government isn’t getting any smaller, after all, and the booming tech industry inside and outside the Beltway continues to, well, boom.
Think you have a good idea? Let Inform know. Better yet, send over a sketch. If we get enough replies, we’ll report on your great ideas.