General Services Administration officials said Wednesday they had received nearly three dozen responses to a request for ideas about a new FBI headquarters, a potentially lucrative development that Maryland leaders hope to land in Prince George's County.
State and local officials have been working behind the scenes for months to lure the FBI to Maryland if the agency leaves its 38-year-old headquarters, the J. Edgar Hoover Building, in downtown Washington. The state is competing with Virginia and Washington for the roughly 11,000 jobs associated with the facility.
Despite deep federal budget cuts expected for the rest of the fiscal year, the GSA has pressed ahead with the initial stages of finding a site and a developer. As part of a formal solicitation in January, the agency said it is seeking a site in the Washington region that can accommodate 2.1 million square feet of office space.
GSA officials declined to discuss specifics about the responses — including how many came from Maryland — but said in a statement that the 35 proposals were an indication of "significant interest from the private sector to assist in developing a new, consolidated facility."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's current headquarters has been plagued with problems, including a crumbling facade that has threatened pedestrians with falling debris. A 2009 study found the building needs $80.5 million in upgrades. Many of its employees are scattered over nearly two dozen annex offices.
Maryland officials says Prince George's County is well suited to meet the FBI's unique needs.
"With several potential secure and convenient sites and a significant portion of the region's federal workforce, it is an ideal location," said Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, a Southern Maryland Democrat who is the House minority whip.
A hearing on the project by a House subcommittee on economic development was postponed Wednesday because of weather. A resolution to allow the development to proceed is pending in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Maryland officials say the economic impact of the headquarters would rival that of other large agencies based in the state, including the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda and the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn.
While many of the FBI's employees already live in the region, officials hope that concentrating those jobs in Prince George's County would stimulate nearby private investment.
To offset costs, the GSA has proposed granting development rights to the Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in the District.
Prince George's County leaders are promoting a site near the Greenbelt Metro station. Aubrey D. Thagard, an economic development official for the county, said the property near Interstate 95, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and the Capital Beltway allows quick access to Capitol Hill, the White House and the National Security Agency, as well as to the region's airports and highways.
"We have a site that fits perfectly in terms of their requirements," Thagard said.