GREENBELT— Developers hoping for the chance to bring the FBI to their city now have the permission to start competing for the construction of a new FBI headquarters. The General Services Administration (GSA) has authorized the bidding process for the new, consolidated FBI facility and will release the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) in November. […]
GREENBELT— Developers hoping for the chance to bring the FBI to their city now have the permission to start competing for the construction of a new FBI headquarters. The General Services Administration (GSA) has authorized the bidding process for the new, consolidated FBI facility and will release the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) in November.
With the three potential sites in Greenbelt, Landover and Springfield already identified, the GSA has already begun evaluating the affects the FBI could potentially have on the area.
County Executive Rushern Baker III released a statement, along with Congressman Steny H. Hoyer, U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin, and Congresswoman Donna Edwards (all D-MD), in support of the GSA’s decision to consolidate the FBI headquarters.
“We are heartened by the explicit commitment made today by the FBI, GSA and OMB to a full consolidation of the FBI headquarters,” the statement said. “We also encourage GSA to stay close to their announced timeline and to keep Congress apprised of any adjustments as they arise. Prince George’s County is the best choice for the FBI, and we will continue to work together to bring this important economic development project to Prince George’s County.”
The GSA announced President Barack Obama would submit a request for funding to make up the difference between construction costs of a consolidated headquarters and the redevelopment of the current J.E. Hoover building in Washington, D.C.
The GSA is currently evaluating security impact, environmental impact and transportation impacts on all three sites, according to GSA officials. The draft Environmental Impact Statement, which has not yet been released, sets the standards the potential sites need to meet in these categories.
“GSA expects the draft Environmental Impact Statement to be released in November,” officials said. “Further, a set of program requirements for the new facility has been finalized and will be the basis for phase two solicitation documents which the GSA expects to issue to the short-listed bidders forthcoming before the end of the calendar year.”
A contract for construction is anticipated to be awarded in late 2016. The current J.E. Hoover building is located in Washington, D.C. along with 14 other smaller buildings holding FBI operations. The FBI consolidation project being solicited by the GSA would bring all operations into one building at the central location of their choice.
The consolidation will allow the FBI to perform critical national security, intelligence and law enforcement missions in a newer, more modern facility, GSA officials say.
United States Senator Barbara Mikulski, who is in favor of the FBI moving to either the Landover or Greenbelt sites, said she is in support of the FBI’s consolidation.
“I’ve gone to bat for the FBI so that they have 21st century resources to take on 21st century threats,” Mikulski said. “Through my role on the senate appropriations committee, I’ve worked to ensure consolidation considers the cost of operations, security needs, convenience of location for staff, transportation options and infrastructure that will serve the functionality of the FBI for the next 50 years.”
Originally, the GSA had the DEIS scheduled to release in the summer but pushed the date further back into the fall. Kamara Jones, a spokeswoman for the GSA, previously cited the administration wanted to make sure the analysis in the document is “as thoughtful and thorough as possible.”
“After the draft EIS is complete, GSA will hold a series of public meetings on the document and allow public comment on it for 45 days,” Jones said.
Nine overall areas will be looked at in the environmental study — including all three possible sites as well as the J. Edgar Hoover building. The GSA must review land use, visual aesthetics, social economics, traffic and parking, fiscal impact, environmental impact, cultural conditions, public services, public utilities and hazardous materials. Once those things are reviewed the GSA decides what improvements must be made for each site.
As of now, GSA officials have not stated whether there will be any delays on project deadlines because of the late release of the DEIS. Garth Beall, a project manager at Renard Development Company and overseer of the Greenbelt site for the FBI, said even with the DEIS delays, things are still going as planned.
“We’re still working on the renderings and everything and the plans for the WMATA compact area, that is still going on,” Beall said. “We’re still in contact with all the politicians and everything to make sure nobody loses site of the goals that need to be made. Conversations that need to be had, we’re having them.”
There has been a bit more waiting on Beall’s end, he said, because of the delay in schedule. There are still some things with the Greenbelt site that need to be done, he said, and some of them are not able to be completed because of the wait for the DEIS.
The Greenbelt site is located at an 82-acre lot which currently holds the parking lot for the adjacent Greenbelt Metro station. The proximity to the metro gives the Greenbelt site an advantage, Beall said.
According to a study done by Beall, it takes just three minutes to get to the Greenbelt metro station from the Department of Homeland Security while it takes over 15 minutes to get there from both Springfield and Landover.
Some of the necessary adjustments are expensive, Beall said, and it is better to wait to see exactly what needs to be done rather than moving ahead without any real direction from the GSA.
“For example, we’ve got the road network planned and approved by everybody where it sits today,” Beall said. “But there are some little tweaks that need to happen that are pretty minor, but it doesn’t make sense to do any of the tweaks until I know what their traffic requirements are.”
Still, Beall said, aside from the minor tweaks, because of everything Renard has already done in preparation for the release of the DEIS from the GSA, he is comfortable with where the Greenbelt site stands relative to both the Landover and Springfield sites they are bidding against.