At its monthly meeting last week, Thursday, February 2, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) unanimously approved a final master plan for the proposed $300 million Intelligence Community Campus-Bethesda, a federal facility to be located on the site of the former National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) headquarters on Sangamore Road, off MacArthur Boulevard, in Bethesda, Maryland.
The Defense Intelligence Agency, working with the Army Corps of Engineers, is leading efforts to repurpose the 39-acre site as a campus for multiple intelligence agencies, including employees of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA). Plans call for the retention of three existing buildings, which will get new facade treatments, and the demolition of two other buildings, which will be replaced by new ones. An 1,825-space parking garage and new landscaping will replace existing surface parking lots, decreasing impervious surfaces by 50 percent.
In its approval, the commission commended the Corps for its efforts in reusing and modernizing an existing federal facility while simultaneously acknowledging its historic significance. It also commended the Corps and the local community for working together to resolve numerous issues. Community members had responded to an earlier version of the master plan by expressing concerns about tree loss, stormwater management, traffic, and parking. In December 2011, the NCPC deferred action on the plan and required the Corps to analyze alternatives to the proposed garage. The Corps, community members, and NCPC staff then worked together extensively on revisions to the plan that resulted in an improved overall site design; a smaller, reoriented parking garage; less on-site parking; and a substantial decrease in the number of trees that will be removed.
The campus will house a maximum of 3,000 employees—approximately the same number as it did before NGA employees were transferred to a new headquarters complex on Fort Belvoir, Virginia, in September 2011 as part of the 2005 BRAC process. Specific components of the new intelligence campus, including Phase I/North Campus (the parking garage as well as entry and visitor control facilities) and Phase II/South Campus (the six office buildings) will come before NCPC for review later this year. The first phase of the project, which includes the demolition, is expected to begin in mid-2012 and to cost $40 million; the total project cost is estimated at $300 million.