FBI Headquarters Leaving D.C. For Either Prince George’s or Fairfax counties

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The Justice Department watchdog has found the FBI has improved handling of national security letters, but says the agency could do better. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Justice Department watchdog has found the FBI has improved handling of national security letters, but says the agency could do better. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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LANHAM, Md. (WNEW/AP) — The federal government has named three sites as finalists for the new FBI headquarters — none of which are in the District of Columbia.

The General Services Administration released its shortlist of potential sites on Tuesday — two in suburban Maryland and one in northern Virginia. They are:

• Greenbelt, Maryland — A portion of the site known as the Greenbelt Metro station located near the intersection of Interstates 95 and 495 and Exit 24 (Greenbelt Station) in Prince George’s County;

• Landover, Maryland — The site known as the former Landover Mall located near the intersection of Interstates 95 and 495 and Maryland Route 202 in Prince George’s County;

• Springfield, Virginia — The site known as the GSA Franconia Warehouse Complex located near the intersection of Interstate 95 and Franconia Road in Fairfax County.

The J. Edgar Hoover Building, a hulking Brutalist structure, began housing FBI workers in 1974 on prime Pennsylvania Avenue real estate between the Capitol and the White House. The building, which occupies a downtown city block across the street from the Justice Department, is known by many Americans for its appearances in news broadcasts and movies. Millions have visited for tours, which are now discontinued.

But the FBI has long complained that the building — named for the agency’s first and longest-serving director — is obsolete, inefficient and no longer meets the needs of an organization that has grown dramatically in the last 40 years. Those findings were confirmed by a 2011 Government Accountability Office report that agreed the building didn’t meet the agency’s long-term security needs. The FBI has been pushing to move thousands of employees spread among leased annexes in the region into a secure consolidated headquarters that would fit with an agency whose focus has evolved to intelligence and counterterrorism.

Though the Hoover Building holds unquestionable sentimental value and is a recognizable site in Washington, the FBI would hardly be the first major federal agency with its headquarters outside the city. Both the Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency have headquarters in Virginia, for instance.

Word that the GSA was looking for a new location for the FBI set off intense jockeying from local and federal officials in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Though any move would likely be years away, the contenders clamored for the rights to a massive economic development project with the potential to bring thousands of jobs, expand the tax base and boost area retail and service industries.

On Tuesday, U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin, U.S. Representatives Steny H. Hoyer and Donna F. Edwards and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III, all applauded the inclusion of the proposed Maryland sites.

“For too long Prince George’s County has been redlined, sidelined, overlooked and undervalued,” Mikulski said.

In a news release put out jointly by the Maryland lawmakers, they wrote that Prince George’s County meets all of the necessary criteria for a new headquarters, “and exceeds them by offering close proximity to Washington, easy access to mass transit, world-class research and education institutions, cyber security and defense facilities, and other assets valuable to the FBI’s ongoing missions.”

Meanwhile, a group of Virginia lawmakers including U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine and U.S. Representatives Rob Wittman, Jim Moran, Frank Wolf and Gerry Connolly put out a news release touting Springfield as the clear choice.

“The Springfield site is a cost effective selection that’s accessible by many different transportation options, and Northern Virginia is home to a majority of FBI personnel, the FBI’s major training facility at Quantico, and many key defense and intelligence agencies. This is not about what is best for Virginia or best for Maryland. It should be about what is best for the FBI and its mission. We believe that the Springfield site best offers the FBI what it needs.”

Commuters told WNEW’s Kimberly Suiters, however, that they are concerned FBI headquarters being so close to both the Capital Beltway and within a half-mile of the Franconia-Springfield Metro stop will bring even more traffic to the already congested area.

The GSA will now start to assess the environmental impact of building on the three sites, take comments from the public and solicit bids from potential developers.

WNEW’s Kimberly Suiters and Chuck Carroll contributed to this report. Follow them and WNEW on Twitter.

(TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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