Looking Back on BRAC: Fort Belvoir, Springfield, Virginia

(Photo: Orygun, Wikimedia)

As we’ve reported in numerous postings throughout the past year (click on “BRAC” in the “Categories” to the right), the Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) process has led to the closure of more than 350 military bases—and the movement of many military operations from one base to another—since 1988. Whether we’ll experience another round of BRAC remains to be seen, but even if we don’t, the most recent round of base closings and realignments now wrapping up will continue to have a huge impact on Department of Defense property throughout the nation. We’re therefore beginning this new series, which will focus on individual military installations and how they—and related real estate uses in the surrounding area—are changing as a result of BRAC-related movements. Although the first few postings will explore bases in the National Capital Region, future pieces will examine others located throughout the nation.

Fort Belvoir has experienced some of the heaviest impacts from BRAC of all military installations in the National Capital Region. In early BRAC rounds, a number of federal agencies, including the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), relocated from other locations in the region to new facilities on Fort Belvoir. More recently, other large federal agencies have relocated to Fort Belvoir in the past two years, including the following:

  • The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which consolidated 8,500 employees from various locations in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia into the new 2.77 million-square-foot, five-building NGA Campus East—the third-largest federal facility in the Washington, D.C., area—on the site of the former Engineering Proving Ground last year;
  • The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), which consolidated its direction, guidance and policy command center from other locations in the region into a new 99,000-square-foot facility on Fort Belvoir’s South Post that was completed last summer; and
  • The U.S. Army Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (POE IS), which relocated from Fort Monmouth, N.J., to a newly renovated 75,000-square-foot building on the South Post, in a three-phase move that was completed last July.

In addition, the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital—a new, 1.3-million-square-foot, state-of-the-art medical facility built on the former site of Fort Belvoir’s South Post Golf Course, opened in August 2011. The new hospital is double that of the old Fort Belvoir DeWitt Army Community Hospital.

What impacts are all of these new facilities—and the addition of nearly 12,000 new military and civilian jobs—having on the surrounding area? Because the Springfield office market has had little Class A inventory available, we have seen new office construction built for and marketed to the many defense contractors who will want to relocate near the agencies now at Fort Belvoir. Normally, we would have expected this growth to continue at a very fairly brisk pace but pending sequestration and other DoD cutbacks have served to suspend contractor demand.  In some instances, contractors have already begun to pare back in anticipation that contracts will be downsized or cancelled. Ultimately, we expect the Fort Belvoir area – especially near Fort Belvoir North – to establish itself as a significant defense community focal point but the path today is not as clear.