A budget crunch will not prevent Prince George’s officials from seeking to increase its commercial tax base by trying to bring the FBI headquarters to the county. The county has been unsuccessful in attracting federal tenants, with the latest being the Department of Health and Human Services. Now the county has said it will conduct “aggressive outreach” to the General Services Administration.

This comes after the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed a resolution last month giving the GSA the authority to seek a new home for FBI Headquarters. A part of that resolution was specific parameters for what the new location must encompass.

It must be within 2 miles of a Metro station, 2.5 miles outside the Beltway, contain 2.1 million square feet of rentable space and a maximum of 4,300 parking spaces. Prince George’s County Assistant Deputy Chief Administrator Aubrey Thagard said the county is preparing its plans to present a winning bid to GSA.

“We are assessing those sites currently and looking at every possible contingency in terms of how to use the criteria and how it would be supported through infrastructure,” Thagard said. “There is a workgroup that has been formed to take a look at all that and to provide an analysis.”

The government also wants the land to be donated, and then, on a lease-back plan with the feds, leased to a developer for the rights to develop the land and any improvements. From there the federal government would take full ownership of the land. Thagard wants to make sure the county gets its piece of the pie if these are the terms of the deal. “What’s important is through this lease agreement tax revenue can be generated back into the county,” he said.

Right now, officials are mum on which sites are being considered for development, but the county has made it clear that it wanted to attract businesses to underused land around its Metro sites. It’s already begun the process of developing land around the New Carrollton Metro Station and has made it clear that it would like to do the same at Naylor Road and Suitland.

None of this can be done until Congress moves forward. As with anything on Capitol Hill both sides of Congress must approve something before it becomes law. Now the House must approve pass the resolution on its side for this process to move forward. So for the time being county officials are just remaining patient, but preparing if the day comes where they can move forward in attracting FBI to Prince George’s.

“There’s a timetable we’re hoping for, which would be tomorrow,” Thagard said jokingly. “It’s a long haul, obviously, when trying to get both sides of Congress to agree on anything. We’re hoping by the spring the House will have passed the resolution and whatever differences remain between those resolutions they get it worked out in that time frame.”

The County will have competition from Virginia though as Fairfax County is reportedly putting together a package to bring headquarters there.

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO