As we reported back in January, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed a resolution on December 8, 2011, authorizing GSA to seek a location for a new consolidated FBI headquarters to replace the aging J. Edgar Hoover Building at 935 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., as well as leased space in about 20 other buildings throughout the region. Last Friday (October 19), Dan Sernovitz reported in the Washington Business Journal that the GSA is “putting the finishing touches on a request for information (RFI) that would ask developers to come up with locations and ideas to build a new FBI headquarters in the Washington region.” While GSA representatives declined to comment, Sernovitz cited “sources familiar with the process” as saying that the federal government plans to give the FBI’s current headquarters to the winning development team in exchange for its building a new headquarters (with at least 2 million square feet of office space on at least 55 acres), with some concessions, including that ownership of the agency’s new headquarters will be transferred to the federal government after a certain period of time.
This news has captured the real estate and economic development communities’ attention, as both prospects—redeveloping the Pennsylvania Avenue site and building/leasing a huge new headquarters facility for the FBI—hold great appeal. As we also reported back in January, officials from Fairfax and Prince Georges counties (in Virginia and Maryland, respectively) were the first to actively recruit the new headquarters project; since then, officials from Loudoun County, Va., the District of Columbia, and other jurisdictions also have expressed interest.
The RFI will be only the first of many steps in a long process. Congress likely will need to approve any leasing deal, and the GSA will need to issue a formal request for proposals (RFP) after it reviews the responses to the still-to-come RFI. If and when a deal is struck, it will result in one of the largest federal headquarters projects since the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s 2.5 million-square-foot Alexandria, Va., campus, which was developed under a similar arrangement with a private developer.