A potential 2.1 million-square-foot FBI headquarters location in Greenbelt would need about 60 percent more parking spaces than initially expected if the site is chosen, planning officials announced at a public meeting at the Greenbelt Public Library earlier this week.
The General Services Administration, which helps manage and support functioning of federal agencies, is now requesting 6,000 spaces for the proposed site — 2,400 more than what they asked for in a 2015 draft Environmental Impact Statement. Each new parking space will cost thousands of dollars that "will be borne directly by taxpayers," wrote Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan in an email to NEPA Team Lead Denise Decker in April.
A final Environmental Impact Statement calling for the additional spaces is due next month.
Whereas the lot ratio was previously one space for about every three employees, GSA is working to expand to one space for every 1.8 employees, College Park Senior Planner Miriam Bader said. The GSA first requested more parking spaces in March when the administration stated in its second proposal request that the original 1:3 ratio "would not support the FBI's mission."
The Greenbelt location, located next to the Greenbelt Metro station, is one of three potential sites for the new headquarters, with other options being Landover and Springfield, Virginia. Because of the J. Edgar Hoover building's limited amount of space, FBI headquarters staff in the D.C. area currently work in 14 separate locations, according to a 2015 Washington Post article.
The Greenbelt site would be the only one of the three options located right next to a Metro station, which falls in line with the GSA's goal to increase transit use.
"[The GSA has] not started their transportation management plan yet, where they look at ways to encourage transit use," said Garth Beall, manager of the Renard Development Company. "That includes subsidies, flexible schedules, things like that that will really try to encourage people to use transit instead of driving."
In September, The University of Maryland announced The Maryland Academy for Innovation in National Security, which collaborates with the FBI in research and educational opportunities. University officials said the academy and Greenbelt's proximity to this university make it the most appealing of the three potential FBI locations.
"Consider three things: location, location, location," university President Wallace Loh said in September. "The FBI needs to be close in proximity to the large research university in the region."
Several large organizations have reached out to the GSA, urging them to consider alternatives to additional parking spaces due to its environmental effects.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation addressed its opposition in a statement from July, stating that following through with the proposal will lead to "significantly increased traffic and road infrastructure costs, reduced transit use, and increased air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions."
To prevent this from happening, they recommend "ensuring the maximum number of employees take advantage of the commuter transit benefit, extensive carpool and vanpool matching," as well as other options such as telecommuting.
The final location for the facility has not been officially selected, but a decision is expected in March, The Diamondback reported in December.