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Stafford wants FBI center

BY BILL FREEHLING

Stafford County, working with its neighbor to the north, is making a push to land the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s planned headquarters campus.

FBI headquarters are now at the deteriorating J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. The agency has long eyed a new, more secure campus that would allow it to consolidate in one location.

The General Services Administration, which handles real-estate transactions for federal agencies, put out a request for information Monday asking developers to submit specific proposals for the new headquarters campus. The deal could involve a developer receiving the Hoover Building’s prime real estate in exchange for building the FBI’s new headquarters.

Competition for the headquarters, which would likely include more than 2 million square feet of office space and as many as 12,000 jobs, will be fierce between Maryland and Virginia. Within Virginia, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties will also be competing to land the campus.

Stafford is just outside the National Capital Region boundaries that the GSA is eyeing for the new FBI campus, but Stafford Economic Development Director Tim Baroody said the county has many attributes that the government should consider.

The FBI is already one of the largest employers in Stafford. The agency’s academy and crime lab are on Marine Corps Base Quantico, where many other federal investigative agencies are also based.

The FBI also quietly occupies numerous office and industrial buildings throughout Stafford.

“We’ve already proved ourselves to be a good home for the FBI,” Baroody said.

Baroody pointed out that land is cheaper and more available south of the Capital Beltway.

Furthermore, much of the FBI’s workforce already lives in the less-congested areas outside the immediate Washington area. And he pointed out the synergies of the FBI locating close to both its existing Quantico facilities and other federal investigative agencies such as the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Officials from Prince William and Stafford counties, both of which border the Quantico base, have worked together to persuade FBI officials to move to the region. Earlier this year, Susan Stimpson and Corey Stewart, county supervisors who respectively chair Stafford’s and Prince William’s boards, co-drafted a letter that was sent to FBI Director Robert Mueller.

“It is our strong belief that federal or private land within Prince William and Stafford Counties will emerge as the most advantageous locations for the new FBI headquarters,” they wrote.

The letter points out that the high occupancy toll lanes that are now being extended to Garrisonville Road would make it easier for FBI employees who live north of Prince William to handle the reverse commute to the new headquarters site. The letter also notes the possibility of the Virginia Railway Express adding morning southbound and evening northbound trains if necessary.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405

bfreehling@freelancestar.com

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