Fairfax County Wants New FBI Headquarters in Springfield

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As we noted in the previous post, GSA has begun setting the stage for the construction of a massive new FBI headquarters complex somewhere in the National Capital Region. Exactly where that complex will be located is the subject of much speculation, and while a number of jurisdictions are vying to attract it, Fairfax County, Va., officials are aiming to steer it away from one proposed site in the county—the soon-to-be vacated Exxon Mobil campus in Merrifield—and toward another: the partially vacant, 70-acre GSA warehouse complex in Springfield. Today, we take a closer look at that site, which is located west of I-95 and Loisdale Road, a half mile from the Franconia/Springfield Metrorail station  (see aerial above).

Revamping the vast GSA warehouse complex has long been one of Fairfax County’s top economic development priorities; earlier this decade, the county had proposed the site for the Army’s Washington Headquarters Service (as part of BRAC 2005), but it was rejected in 2008 in favor of Alexandria’s Mark Center. Sometimes referred to as the Parr-Franconia Warehouse, the property contains about 1.3 million square feet of building space, including the approximately 1 million-square-foot Building A—which stretches one-third of a mile end to end and has the largest wooden roof truss system east of the Mississippi River—and the 232,000-square-foot Building B, both of which were constructed in 1953, as well as about a dozen modular buildings. County officials and local business believe the site—now secured by concrete barriers and a barbed-wire fence—is hugely underused. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) stores paperwork in one of the warehouses, while GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service uses another to store furniture, computers, and other items. Past tenants have included the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), which relocated some leased facilities from there to Fort Meade as a result of BRAC 2005. More than a decade ago, Terra Real Estate Services—which was helping GSA evaluate an offer to purchase the property—listed eight federal agencies occupying the site, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

That agency appears to be the sticking point for any redevelopment plan. While it would appear to be fairly simple for PTO and GSA to relocate their storage facilities to other sites (on properties less ripe for redevelopment), Washington Business Journal reporter Michael Neibauer revealed back in January that the CIA may be operating a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) at 6801 Springfield Center Drive. According to Fairfax County tax records, that building, which sits within the GSA fence and appears to be part of the GSA complex, is privately owned by an arm of Arlington-based Resi Management Company, whose owner declined to name the tenants. Digging deeper into the CIA’s presence at the complex, Neibauer quoted an excerpt from the book Fallout by Catherine Collins and Douglas Frantz (Free Press, 2011) that describes a warehouse-like building in Springfield where “the CIA trains a cadre of technical officers to bug offices, break into houses, and penetrate computer systems.” If the CIA really is operating a clandestine training facility out of the building, Neibauer concludes, that will be “the major hurdle in Fairfax County’s effort to lure the FBI to the … GSA campus.”