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"75 percent chance" FBI comes to Greenbelt

FBI headquartersGREENBELT – It seems more likely than ever that the FBI will come be coming to Prince George’s County, according to a developer managing the Greenbelt site.

Last year the General Services Administration named Greenbelt as one of the finalists for relocation of the new FBI headquarters, along with Landover and Springfield, Va.

Garth E. Beall, a manager at Renard Development Company that is overseeing the FBI project in Greenbelt said he thinks Greenbelt seems like the best site because of its convenient location and the cost.

“From all the information I know, and I’m pretty conservative, I’m giving it a 75 percent chance of coming to Greenbelt,” Beall said. “The main reason is that all of the information that I am hearing on the Springfield property sounds like that site does not work.”

Beall said relocating the tenants and securing the Springfield site could cost up to $800 million. The Springfield site, without direct access to the metro, is about three years behind the Greenbelt site in development and could struggle to fit into GSA’s timeframe, he said.

“The two significant infrastructure requirements that I have at Greenbelt are the WMATA garage, which has got to be about 3,700 parking spaces, and then I’ve got the half of the beltway interchange to be put in,” Beall said. “But Springfield and Landover will both have to have shuttles. We’re 264 feet from a metro station. They’re 1.97 miles (away from a metro station).”

Beall said while it is not guaranteed the FBI will come to Greenbelt, he remains confident it will be the site the GSA chooses.

“My feeling is that it is ours unless we screw it up,” Beall said. “And I’m trying my best not to screw anything up. And there is stuff that is not in my control, but I think there is enough political will that this will happen.”

The GSA put out a request for proposal for an exchange partner to develop, design and construct the new headquarters. In exchange, the developer will receive the rights to the J. Edgar Hoover Building and a full block of land in Washington, D.C. The deadline to submit proposals passed on Feb. 10, and GSA will announce the five finalists in May. GSA also plans to release a draft environmental impact statement in the spring for each of the three locations. GSA will determine a winner and award the contract in May 2016.

In a worksession with the Greenbelt City Council, Beall told officials six teams submitted bids for the project. He said he considers a team led by Boston Properties to be the top team, and he thinks a team headed by Lerner Enterprises could be the team GSA chooses to eliminate first.

Beall also told the Greenbelt Council he has had discussions with Boston Properties, and the company no longer deems the Springfield site to be viable for the headquarters.

Gov. Larry Hogan and many other officials in Maryland have voiced their support for the FBI moving into Prince George’s County. Hogan said it is of “critical importance” to the state of Maryland to have the FBI.

“As GSA moves forward with the process of selecting a site, Maryland is united at the federal, state and local level to bring the new FBI headquarters to Prince George’s County,” Hogan said. “We will be working closely together to make sure that the FBI gets a fully consolidated modern headquarters that meets the agency’s needs.”

Hogan said Prince George’s County offers the FBI the essential proximity to Washington, D.C. and provides easy access with mass transit metro stations. Hogan said another benefit will be the FBI’s close proximity to “world-class” research and educational facilities as well as cyber security and defense facilities able to aid the FBI in their ongoing missions.

“Locating the new FBI headquarters in Prince George's County will make Maryland's economy stronger by bringing thousands of jobs to the county, boosting our local economy and generating additional revenues for our community,” Hogan said.

Hogan met with state and local officials, including Rep. Steny Hoyer, Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, County Executive Rushern Baker III and County Council Chairman Mel Franklin to voice support for the FBI to come to Prince George’s County.

The governor called the meeting a “united front” and thanked officials for working hard to make bringing the FBI into the county a possibility.

“They’ve said before that they’re all in on this project and so am I,” Hogan said. “The relocation would be of critical importance to our state, and I am committed to working with our federal and local partners to make this happen.”

Mikulski said she is doing everything in her power to make sure Prince George’s County gets the FBI building. Mikulski said bringing the FBI to the county will help residents make a living and not just “get by.”

“I’m fighting so Prince George’s County families get a raise. That means quality child care working families can count on and an affordable college education,” Mikulski said. “We’re working to support jobs by fighting to bring the new FBI headquarters and thousands of jobs to Prince George’s County, making our nation safer and our local economy stronger by generating additional revenues for our communities.”

Beall said he has attended many meetings like these where officials are asking “What do you need? What do you need as far as approvals?” The relationship between the developer, the state and the county has been great, he said, and they are working hand-in-hand to bring the FBI into Prince George’s County.

Beall said construction on the interchange between the Greenbelt site and the Beltway will be opened in spring 2020, and if the GSA chooses their site, they will be coming shortly after in spring 2021. Beall said he remains hopeful the plan he has put together will be chosen.

“It’s a big project,” Beall said. “I have been criticized, not by the state or by the county but by others, for putting so much time and money into this project. But it is clear from their time requirements that if I hadn’t this would be a lot more challenging.”

 

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