The FBI headquarters is moving, and Greenbelt could be its new home.
Officials in Virginia and this state have advocated for Springfield, Va., and Greenbelt, respectively. And officials from College Park are pushing for the Greenbelt location because of potential economic benefits and intelligence research opportunities.
Dan Cruz, a spokesman for the General Services Administration, said the GSA expects to identify all eligible sites this spring. The site is expected to be chosen sometime in 2015, he said.
This state’s congressional delegation sent a joint letter to the heads of the FBI and GSA in April 2013 in favor of Greenbelt, mentioning a state report that showed 43 percent of FBI employees live in this state, 33 percent in Virginia and 17 percent in Washington.
“Providing a more convenient work location for a majority of FBI workers will improve employee morale and help them save on daily transportation expenses,” read the letter, signed by Sens. Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, along with Reps. Steny Hoyer, Elijah Cummings, Chris Van Hollen and Dutch Ruppersberger.
On Nov. 15, the GSA announced requirements for the new FBI location. The site must meet minimum requirements of square footage, security, access to public transit and access to the Capital Beltway, Cruz wrote in an email.
Accessibility to the Metro station makes the Greenbelt site an appealing option, said Fazlul Kabir, College Park City Councilman for District 1.
“To get to Greenbelt, there will be a 495 Beltway exchange ramp that will take the motorways to this site directly, but in the Springfield side there isn’t any,” Kabir said. “It’s not as convenient as our site.”
The location and accessibility to public transportation, District 3 Councilman Robert Day said, makes Greenbelt an ideal location for the FBI.
“There are so many things that this community, the Greenbelt-College Park community has to offer. … Everything is right here,” Day said. “It’s very clear to me that we as a community have to do everything we can to try and make sure we win the bid for that space.”
The joint letter also said Greenbelt’s proximity to other federal agencies in the area, particularly those involved in cybersecurity, would benefit the FBI.
“As growth continues in this new frontier in national security and crime fighting, locating the FBI in Prince George’s County, Maryland would be a strategic location for FBI that promotes collaboration among numerous federal agencies and the FBI on cyber security [sic] initiatives,” the letter read. “This would give FBI much greater access to experts working on research, development, and applications for cybersecurity programs.”
The FBI’s proximity to College Park could spark or enhance intelligence research being conducted at the university, College Park Mayor Andy Fellows said.
“Because of some of the intelligence community development that’s already happening at the College Park Metro Station … there’s a lot of potential ties with things that are going on at the University of Maryland in College Park,” Fellows said.
James Lynch, criminology and criminal justice chairman at this university, said he would expect collaboration between the FBI and university faculty or students.
“There could be some potential for exchange with the university for either advanced training or research,” Lynch said. “Any time you have a major university and they are a cab ride away, you would think there would be some opportunity for exchange.”
The influx of about 11,000 employees would also bring economic benefits to the county, said Michael Stiefvater College Park economic development coordinator.
“People [are] looking for jobs, looking for homes,” Stiefvater said. “That will help our housing market of course. People will run errands after work or whatever it might be, so that will help the neighborhood.”
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker submitted a proposal to the GSA in December with the support of other state officials, noting the economic benefits of the move for the county and the confirmation that the Greenbelt site meets all of the GSA’s requirements.
“Prince George’s County has the ability to donate, at no cost to the federal government, the proposed location that meets the size requirements and is located directly adjacent to a Metro station,” the proposal read. “This project would bring thousands of jobs to the County, boost our local economy and generate additional revenues for our community.”
Day said he hopes the GSA chooses Greenbelt for the potential cooperation with the surrounding agencies, universities and the entire area.
“It’s a great learning opportunity. I think the university can benefit from it; I think the FBI can benefit from having the university right here. It’s a win-win situation,” Day said. “[It will] bring people, bring families back to this community, grow this area like it needs to be grown.”